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Essential Mathematica for Students of Science: Tutorial Approach to Mastery of Mathematica

James J. Kelly
Organization: University of Maryland
Department: Department of Physics
Education level


Conceptual and operational mastery of the Mathematica tools and techniques most relevant to scientists and engineers.

All required materials may be obtained from the URL below. More than 30 notebooks covering a wide variety of topics are available.

The course materials consist of a collection of notebooks that present Mathematica in a tutorial format. Two types of notebooks are provided:
  • Language notebooks present basic concepts and techniques in a systematic fashion using relatively simple examples and exercises. Exercises embedded in the text are intended for use in class, while those at the end are more suitable for homework.
  • Application notebooks present solutions to more challenging problems at considerably greater depth and are intended to illustrate the use of Mathematica as a problem-solving tool. Applications are drawn from a wide variety of topics, including physics, chemistry, population biology, nonlinear dynamcs, and deterministic chaos.

    These materials were developed for a course that I teach at the University of Maryland. Although I am a professor of physics, the course is intended for advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate students in any field of science, engineering, or mathematics. My course is taught in a teaching theater in which every student has a computer. The instructor can project his/her monitor or that of any student on a screen, view any monitor, or interact with any session. Typically I make a brief introduction to the topic of the day. Students then work through the tutorial exercises while I circulate through the room providing help as needed. Sometimes I project student solutions. This interactive approach is much more successful than lecturing -- active learning is much more effective means of acquiring computational skills than passive listening. Students come to the course with a wide range of backgrounds and experience, but most become quite proficient with Mathematica and go on to use it extensively in later coursework or research. Evaluation comments are generally quite positive.
The essential core of a one semester course includes:
  • Getting started
  • Programming techniques
  • Plotting
  • Manipulating expressions
  • Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Differential equations

*Applied Mathematics
*Mathematica Technology > Programming > Equation Solving
*Mathematica Technology > Programming > Symbolic Computation
Related items

*Intermediate Methods of Mathematical Physics   [in Courseware and Class Materials]
*Statistical Physics Using Mathematica   [in Courseware and Class Materials]