Re: Mathematica and Education

*To*: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net*Subject*: [mg64962] Re: Mathematica and Education*From*: "Dave (from the UK)" <see-my-signature at southminster-branch-line.org.uk>*Date*: Fri, 10 Mar 2006 05:14:54 -0500 (EST)*References*: <dulsnr$39r$1@smc.vnet.net>*Reply-to*: Mar-2006 at southminster-branch-line.org.uk*Sender*: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

fizzy wrote: > Recently, there were several discussions regarding the use of > Mathematica in the classroom, etc... I just took a course in Advanced > Electromagnetic Engineering I did something pretty similar 'Computer modeling of Fields' as part of an MSc Microwaves and Optoelectronics - I later did a PhD, although not on this subject. I am also the author of an open-source program for computing impedance of transmission lines of arbitrary cross section. http://atlc.sourceforge.net/ > and I'm happy to say that I did not perform > a single pencil and paper operation. Personally I would be sorry to say that. And if you have any sense, I would not admit it at a job interview. > I did all the homework and exams > using Mathematica. Were you allowed Mathematica in an exam? At UCL they are very restrictive on the sort of calculators allowed, so something like Mathematica would not be allowed. > Also, in hindsight, without Mathematica I would > never take the course nor can I conceive of how I could without it > although I realize there was a time where people did work without > Mathematica. The amount of homework was horrendous and how you could > do it with pencil and paper operations is beyond me. I can't help feeling that doing some by pencil and paper is better for learning. > In fact, I've > gotten so used to Mathematica that if I were told I can no longer use > it in my work, etc. , I would give Science up. You might well find like I did that I worked for a commercial company and got presented with something far less capable. I forget what I had to use at Marconi, but it was next to useless. I was quite glad when I later worked in the uni again and had Mathematica. > That is how attached > I've become to Mathematica and how much more enjoyment I've gotten out > of Science problems using it. I think science problems are interesting, not just because Mathematica exists. If the problem was not interesting, solving it with Mathematica would not give me any thrills. > Also, when I have to use other languages I feel like a Programmer and I > dont relish that at all. With Mathematica I actually feel that I'm > doing some thinking and analyzing instead of just writing lines of code. To me, if you use a lower level language you have to think far more. That enforces understanding in *some* ways. In some cases, using a high level language you can think more about the problem than the details - and in many cases the details are not important. Do I really case how to calculate a log - probably not. I'd use Mathematica, a calculator or years ago a table of logs. But I think in many cases the use of such a high level language can allow you to get answers without understanding. I like Mathematica and introduced colleagues to it at uni. I arranged for us to buy copies for a Sun and later to get a departmental license. I was involved to a certain extent on discussions on a campus wide license. > Jerry Blimbaum I can't help feeling your views are rather extream, and one I doubt even Wolfram Research as a company would share. -- Dave K Minefield Consultant and Solitaire Expert (MCSE). Please note my email address changes periodically to avoid spam. It is always of the form: month-year@domain. Hitting reply will work for a couple of months only. Later set it manually.