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Mathematica as a Conjecture Making and a Multimedia Tool

Tilak de Alwis
Organization: Southeastern Louisiana University
Department: Department of Mathematics
Journal / Anthology

World Conference on Education Multimedia and Hypermedia
Year: 1994
Page range: 642-643

Today many university instructors across the world are integrating computer algebra systems (CAS) into their mathematics curriculums. One of their goals is to make the subject matter more appealing tot he student. The wide availability of the CAS has indeed revitalized the teaching of mathematics as well as the research. If used the right way, it has a big potential of exploring every corner of a curious student's mind, giving him ample opportunities to form, test, and prove mathematical conjectures (de Alwis, 1993). The popular CAS include, Mathematica, Maple, Derive, MacSynma, Theorist, Reduce and muMath. However, in this paper we will concentrate only on Mathematica. It is a CAS that can be used as a numerical or symbolic calculator, a tool for graphing, or as a visualization system to analyze data. One of the biggest strengths of Mathematica is its powerful built-in programming language. By combining the Mathematica programming language with its animation and sound capabilities, one can make mathematics spring to life! For example, in the subsequent sections, we will observe projectiles moving through the sky emitting various sounds and dynamic models for world population growth. These are excellent examples on how to use Mathematica as a multimedia studio. Not only that, we will also discover some useful theorems in the process. Our students will definitely be inspired by mathematics taught and presented this way. Consequently, they will be able to understand and appreciate the subject more. What we have used is Mathematica standard version 2.0 on a Macintosh IIfx platform running at a clock speed of 40 MHz. Some good references on Mathematica are (Wagon, 1991) and (Wolfram, 1991).