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MathGroup Archive 1996

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Re: What is Mathmatica

  • Subject: [mg3210] Re: [mg3193] What is Mathmatica
  • From: richard at seuss.math.wright.edu (Richard Mercer)
  • Date: 17 Feb 1996 23:51:31 -0600
  • Approved: usenet@wri.com
  • Distribution: local
  • Newsgroups: wri.mathgroup
  • Organization: Wolfram Research, Inc.
  • Sender: daemon at wri.com

>  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?
>  

>  Thnaks
>  

>  Tom

Mathematica itself will not teach you Calculus.

If you use a traditional Calculus textbook and 

use Mathematica to avoid doing homework problems by hand, 

you will have chosen the worst of both approaches.

If you use quality Calculus materials designed for use with  
Mathematica, perhaps in conjunction with a "reform" textbook, you will  
learn Calculus in a *different* way that is not strictly comparable to  
the "old-fashioned" way. There are trade-offs; some things you will  
learn less well, and others you will learn better.

But using Mathematica-based materials is very likely to be a better  
way, because it will use a balanced approach, including graphical and  
numerical approaches to the material, whereas a traditional approach  
concentrates very heavily on the algebraic approach. You will probably  
do fewer problems but better problems, in particular fewer "rote"  
problems and more problems requiring actual thought and planning. The  
same can generally be said for any "reform" approach to Calculus,  
regardless of the technology used.

Richard Mercer


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