Math / Algebra Software

Discussion in 'Math' started by tannercollin655, Sep 15, 2009.

  1. tannercollin655

    Thread Starter Member

    Jul 23, 2009
    14
    0
    Hi, I was wondering if anyone could recommend me a Math Software.

    I am taking Physics 11 and I think it would be a great tool to use to help me understand equations and algebra.


    I am looking for a program that can rearrange formulas, Example:

    If I enter: r = e / i
    I should then be able to click "i" and automatically rearrange the formula so that: i = e / r

    Other features should include the ability to solve equations showing each of the steps!

    I have tested out MathCAD but it doesn't seem to do what I want.
    MathCAD only gives me the answer, which wont help me understand or learn anything about algebra and physics.

    Thanks for you answer,
    Tanner
     
  2. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
    2,433
    469
    Using paper and pencil is still the best way to learn the fundamentals, but the available symbolic math programs can be very helpful too. I prefer to do things on paper, and then double check the results with a computer. The computer is good to guard against human error, and the hand calculations verify that you are using the computer tool correctly.

    The most well known software is Maple and Mathamatica, but they are a little expensive. There is a freely available program called Maxima. I like the graphical user interface provided by "wxmaxima", which is available for both Mac and PC. I've used both without any problems.

    http://wxmaxima.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

    Also, both HP and TI make calculators that do symbolic algebra, if you don't want to be tied to a computer.

    I'm just starting to use these tools now, but there are people here who have used them for a while. There are also other forums devoted to this topic area.

    There is one confession I'll make. I found learning the math fundamentals easier an much more enjoyable than trying to learn the proper commands and syntax with these computer programs. Math seems intuitive to me, but these programs frustrate me a little.:) However, once you figure out how to implement a method to solve a particular type of problem, they are a tremendous time saver whenever you face that same situation again.
     
  3. Ratch

    New Member

    Mar 20, 2007
    1,068
    3
    tannercollin655,

    steveb is correct about Maple's price and functionality. You don't just buy a program when you obtain Maple, you get a weapons system. Maple does have a "isolate" function that can manipulate a variable to be alone on the left side of a equation. That makes it great for graphing.

    Ratch
     
  4. tannercollin655

    Thread Starter Member

    Jul 23, 2009
    14
    0
    Wow thank you both for your replys.

    Fortunatly, price is not an issue, functionality is.

    It looks like Maple is a winner, thanks both of you!
     
  5. jrap

    Administrator

    Jun 25, 2006
    961
    200
    Added bonus with Maple - You're supporting a home grown product :) The company is based out of Waterloo, Ont.
     
  6. t_n_k

    AAC Fanatic!

    Mar 6, 2009
    5,448
    782
    I use Scilab which is free and works pretty well. OK it's not Matlab but it's still quite useful for most math work - including matrices and simulation / modelling. It also has a reasonable graphical interface.
     
  7. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
    144
    There are many free options: Octave, FreeMat, Scilab, and R to name a few.

    Dave
     
  8. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
    2,433
    469
    The original question seemed to imply he wanted software that would do symbolic calculations rather than numerical calculations. Matlab and the various clones are not suited to this.
     
  9. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
    144
    Steve, Matlab does have the Symbolic Math Toolbox (which if I'm not mistaken ships with the standard Matlab package) which is able to support symbolic maths functions. It is essentially a Matlab-function interface built around the Maple kernel with acces to the non-graphic Maple libraries and packages. I'm not aware of the status of such functionality for the "clones".

    Dave
     
  10. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
    2,433
    469
    Interesting. I wasn't aware of that. That's a good option for anyone who already uses Matlab.
     
  11. Thav

    Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    82
    0
    I definitely suggest Maxima for this. As per your example here is Maxima output. I find for me it has all the functionality of Maple (because I don't use much functionality) with none of the cost. I use this at work when dealing with cumbersome algebraic manipulation. You may not be able to massage into JUST the form you would like though, so you'll still have to think about some things by hand. I think that's a given for all tools.

    <br />
<br />
(%i4) \mathrm{solve}([R=E/I],I);\\<br />
(\%o4) [I=\frac{E}{R}]
     
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