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Mathematica Information

This page provides information about the use of Mathematica in PH421, the Paradigms Program and at OSU. Please email the instructor with information you find interesting that should be posted here, or with suggestions about how to make this page more useful.

Physics students must become proficient in a computer algebra program. In the Paradigms program, we use Mathematica, by Wolfram. Similar programs are Maple and MathCad. After many years of using Maple, we have switched to Mathematica because we believe it is a better program and there is better support for it. Mathematica 8 is installed on the computers in Wngr 212, Wngr 304, Wngr 304F for your use. OSU students may obtain Mathematica free of charge for use on their home computers. Information is here: You can also access Mathematica via OSU's Virtual Software Laboratory, Umbrella. There is also a free Mathmatica "player", which is sotware that allows you to run Mathematica programs, but not alter them.

Students need not have used Mathematica (or Maple or MathCad) before; we assue no previous knowledge. You will need to learn only very basic techniques, but we hope that you will explore on your own and become ever more proficient. It's a great tool to help you learn. We expect you to make extensive use of the built in Help features and the very impressive tutorials provided by Wolfram. Please collaborate with your fellow students; learn from them and help them to learn. We provide a template notebook with our favorite features (fonts, sizes, plot line thicknesses, etc.) already defined, so that you can start from this template each time.

Site Description Basic "Getting Started" Mathematica tutorials. The first four videos under "Hands-on Start to Mathematica" by Cliff Hastings are essential viewing. They refer to Mathematica 8, which has some new features, so they may have some extraneous info if you're using an earlier version. They are 4 min, 10 min, 7 min and 9 min respectively. The "Mathematica Basics" by Jon McLoone is also helpful. Mathematica's learning center. This has a much wider range of information than the link above (which can be reached from this page). Very helpful with a mutlitude of ways to learn. Videos, tutorials, demos, etc. WolframAlpha - a Mathematica-based computation engine. Enter equations into the box in the window and get instant results. A remarkably powerful piece of sotware. Free Mathematica Player. You can run notebooks (.nb files) , but you can't create new files or new content.
http:// OSU's central software distribution link. You can obtain Mathematica and several other software packages via OSU's license.
Below are Mathematica notebooks created for PH421. Control-click (Mac) or right-click (Windows) on the link and choose "Save as ..." Save the file on your computer, making sure it has a .nb extension and not .txt or anything else. Then open the file with Mathematica. (A normal click simply opens the raw code in the browser.)
PH421 Mathematica template A mathematica notebook that I have created that has some useful default settings.
Pendulum period calculation A mathematica notebook that helps calculate the period of a plane pendulum
Apply 3-frequency voltage to LRC A mathematica notebook that shows the current in a series LRC circuit in response to an applied voltage that has components at three frequencies. Not well commented yet, but useful.
Guess the Fourier Series A mathematica notebook that illustrates how to replicate a simple function by guessing the Fourier coeffients.