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Re: Mathematica and Education

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg64955] Re: Mathematica and Education
  • From: Paul Abbott <paul at>
  • Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2006 05:14:46 -0500 (EST)
  • Organization: The University of Western Australia
  • References: <dulsnr$39r$>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

In article <dulsnr$39r$1 at>, "fizzy" <fizzycist at> 

> Recently, there were several discussions regarding the use of 
> Mathematica in the classroom, etc...   I just took a course in Advanced 
> Electromagnetic Engineering and I'm happy to say that I did not perform 
> a single pencil and paper operation.    I did all the homework and exams 
> using  Mathematica.    

I assume, then, that the exams were "take-home"? Can you provide more 
information about this course? I have given an undergraduate 
Electromagnetism course to second-year students. I permit them 
(encourage them) to do their assignments using Mathematica -- but the 
final exam is a standard 90 minute written paper.

> 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.    

As long as the "by hand" operations are understood, using Mathematica to 
perform the calculations is fine. 

Another barrier to its wider use is that the instructor has to be 
prepared to receive Notebooks as solutions to assignments and exams. 
Clearly, yours must have been ok about this.

> 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.   That is how attached 
> I've become to Mathematica and how much more enjoyment I've gotten out 
> of Science problems using it.

I more or less feel the same way.
> 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. 

Though I solve a lot of problems using Mathematica, I would not consider 
myself as a programmer either..


Paul Abbott                                      Phone:  61 8 6488 2734
School of Physics, M013                            Fax: +61 8 6488 1014
The University of Western Australia         (CRICOS Provider No 00126G)    

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