[Mathematica] Using Mathematica as a main computational and analysis tool in a physic course I took

• From: "Nasser Abbasi" <nma@xxxxxxxxx>
• Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2007 00:48:24 -0700

I thought I share my experience with taking this one course last fall 2006.

In this course we used Mathematica as the main tool for computation and
analysis. This was a physics course at the University of California, Irvine.
I guess everything I say here about using Mathematica could also be said
about using other such capable CAS software. The main point was the use of a
CAS software in a physics course.

We did everything using Mathematica. HW's and exams. The instructor gave us
the assignments in notebooks and we returned the notebook back with our
solutions.

This was a very hard and intensive course for me. I learned better how to
use Mathematica as a tool to help me analyze and investigate things more
easily. The more one became familiar with using it, the more one was able
to use it better and more effectively to learn physics.

Mathematica took away many of the obstacles that one could face if they are
doing the analytical analysis by hand. I could now quickly try different
parameters and equations and see the effect on the solution analytically.
For me using Mathematica for dimensional analysis was the most fun.
Dimensional analysis was truly an amazing thing for me to learn more. Using
CAS can allow one to experiment in this field more easily and try different
mathematical models.

It really helped the class that we had an amazing physics professor also,
and the combination of the his physics insights and using Mathematica made
this course for me a special course. I've taken a computational physics
course many years earlier using Matlab, and this one was using CAS, and I
really thing that using a CAS tool over a numerical tool such as Matlab or
Fortran for learning physics is the better way to go about it. I see many
computational physics courses which are based on Fortran or Matlab, and I
think the students would be better of using a CAS tool instead.

Any way, enough rambling, here is my own web page for this course, including
all my Mathematica work on it if any one might find it interesting.

http://12000.org/my_courses/UCI_COURSES/CREDIT_COURSES/fall_2006/PHYS_100_comp_physics/index.htm

Nasser

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