Mathematica


A computer symbolic algebra system.

Basics

I’m all about open-source tools, as a rule. Mathematica is not that. But the fact remains that the best table of integrals that exists is Mathematica, that emergent computation of the cellular automaton that implements Stephen Wolfram’s mind. I should probably work out what else it does, while I have a their seductively cheap student-license edition chugging away.

Pros

  • Magickal calculus engine. It gives you all the integrals you can eat, but at great cost to your soul.
  • Built-in latex editor

Cons

  • It’s a weird language, with horrible default scoping (Cross-document namespace pollution? Really?)
  • Even as probably the most popular computer algebra system, just not that popular. Ergo, weak community.

Tips

The substitution operator is /. which is terrible to search for. The help easiest to find under the alias ReplaceAll.

{x, x^2, y, z} /. x -> 1

Typing weird symbols is easy; just use the combination of Esc and autocomplete.