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Re: Re: Mathematica and Education

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  • Subject: [mg65099] Re: [mg65041] Re: [mg65014] Mathematica and Education
  • From: ggroup at
  • Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2006 06:00:28 -0500 (EST)
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  • Reply-to: ggroup at
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

On Sunday, March 12, 2006 at 11:58 PM, G. Raymond Brown wrote:

> I have also strongly encouraged my students to buy and use
> Mathematica (my institutions still, despite my urging, do not have
> site licenses for the software, and students mostly consider the
> software too expensive to obtain for themselves).

I don't understand this excuse from students.  The student edition of
Mathematica (at least when I bought my v5 copy) was less than the
price of most of my advanced Physics/Chemistry/Math textbooks.  Most
of those had to be bought new (or relatively new) anyway just because
the publisher changed editions fairly frequently.

And unlike some other CAS software, the Student Edition of Mathematica
doesn't (didn't?) have stripped down functionality. All I lost was the
printed copy of the Mathematica Book, which isn't a big problem with
all the online resources.

> Mathematica brings a host of benefits to any party, but IMHO its greatest
> benefit to education lies in its enabling of asynchronous mathematical
> discourse between students and instructor.

I think this is a critical point that hasn't been addressed so far.

From my experience, in undergrad, there were many physics courses that
required relatively advanced mathematical concepts at times when the
student wouldn't have gone through the corresponding math course. So
in the pencil and pen model, it seemed like a large fraction of the
time available for the physics course was spent learning the mechanics
of the required math, when it could have been spent learning the
underlying physics concepts. And it's not like the student wouldn't
have seen the mathematical detail, the syllabus required the advanced
math courses that covered these topics, just they were scheduled for
subsequent semesters.

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