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MathGroup Archive 1996

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Re: What is Mathmatica

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg3209] Re: [mg3193] What is Mathmatica
  • From: Preston Nichols <nichols at godel.math.cmu.edu>
  • Date: Sat, 17 Feb 1996 14:16:44 -0500
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

tom_bates at city-net.com (Thomas Bates) wrote:

>Although I have a general idea what mathematica is I still wonder: 
>if I used the program to learn calculus would I have learned the
>subject just as well as if I learned it the old fashion way?

Yes, probably, and perhaps better, but possibly not as well.   
(How's that for waffling!)

In general, how well one learns calculus is affected MUCH more by  
the teacher, the textbook, the exercises, and the study habits of  
the student, than by the use or non-use of Mathematica.  There are  
many valuable and instructive uses for Mathematica in a calculus  
course, but there are many pointless, irrelevant ways to "use" it  
too.  Nothing can be inferred just from the fact that Mathematica is  
being used.

(The same is true for any mathematical computing system, including  
graphical calculators.)

Preston Nichols
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Mathematics
Carnegie Mellon University

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