"Indispensable for physics"
Version: Mathematica 7.0
- Powerful symbolic mathematics
- Extensive built-in numerical routines
- Easily handles day-to-day mathematical tasks for me. I work for NASA as an experimental cosmologist.
- For me, this is a game changer. Had mathematica been available when I was a Ph.D. student in the 1980's, my career might have taken a different path.
- Mathematica is very good, but it is not as good as a good human. It does not "see" symmetries in systems of equations. Sometimes I have to go in by hand and solve things that Mathematica cannot. When this happens, the problem at hand is usually postgraduate level or higher.
- Mathematica is clumsy with tensors. When doing tensor computations, I often have to trick it to get it to do what I want. I admit that more expert users might be able to get it to work straight away.
I use Mathematica every day in my work as an experimental cosmologist at NASA. I use it for designing scientific instruments and for solving many statistical problems. I tend to use IDL for numerical computation, but for symbolic work Mathematica is unparalleled in my experience. Yes, I still occasionally have to call on the standard post-gradualte level texts, but Mathematica is indispensable.
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