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Enhancing Sophomore Engineering Calculus with Computer Symbolic Algebra

John H. Mathews
Organization: California State University Fullerton
Department: Mathematics
Journal / Anthology

CATS '90: International Conference on Computer Aided Training in Science and Technology Proceedings (Barcelona, 9-13 July 1990)
Page range: 397-404

Tedious computations involving rote skills in algebra and calculus can be assisted with computer algebra software (CAS). Students have more time to pursue complicated problems and see graphical solutions unfold before their eyes. Powerful procedures are used to determine coefficients of Taylor and Fourier series, and the results are displayed using high resolution graphics. Examples of double integration in the area of engineering statics lead to the discovery of general formulas for centroids, moments of inertia and radii of gyration. The extrema of functions of several variables can be located symbolically and numerically. Vector curves in three dimensions and their derivatives can be studied both analytically and graphically. Graphical tools can be used to study families of solutions in differential equations. The CAS Mathematica is used in this research.