#### sailmike

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Thanks,

Mike

- Thread starter sailmike
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Thanks,

Mike

Study hard, the engineering market sucks right now, so you need to be the best!

Ken

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That having been said, if you are a student, the student discounts are excellent (I believe Matlab R2008B with a bunch of toolboxes, including symbolic math, is something like $100 for the student edition, rather than thousands). It could be well worth it to get the student edition of one of those (I personally find Maple, Matlab, and Mathematica far more useful than MathCAD), but it does depend on both what you are using them for and how much you would actually be able to use them. I'm using matlab 3 or 4 times a week minimum for my labs (I'm an Aerospace engineering student at the University of Colorado). I'm not sure it would be as useful just as a side program, depending on how dedicated you are to learning it and using it.

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In the space industry, Excel is probably used for 80+% of the engineering calculations, because it's quick and easy for simple calculations, and it's good at acting like a pseudo-database to provide tables to review. Even text-based requirements documents are frequently imported into Excel to because it's good at formatting tables and everyone has it. And until recently, you could use Visual Basic to extend the capabilities to solve larger or more complicated analysis problems. Unfortunately, the company where I work is "upgrading" from Excel 2003 to Excel 2007, and my analysis tools that I have developed over years run literally 100x slower than they did with Excel 2003, rendering them useless. Fortunately, I also work with Matlab, so I'll be porting the portions of my tools that aren't already in Matlab to be Matlab tools too.

For the other tools that you mentioned, the last time I have seen them used was when I was in grad school.

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http://www.gnu.org/software/octave/

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I haven't checked out the open source software yet.

Besides engineering applications, did you find it useful for visualizing calculus problems like graphs of multivariable equations?

Thanks,

Mike

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I took a look at these open source software's. How intuitive are they?Maxima and scilab. Both open source!

How intuitive is Matlab? I hope the university has it on their system so I can try out there first before buying it.

Thanks,

Mike

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I use Matlab at work, and d/l scilab to play with at home. They aren't intuitive, but learning one helps you with the other. I was trying to plot some strain gage data once, and was able to play at home w/ scilab and take what I learned to work and apply it in Matlab. My main use of Matlab is analyzing test data.

To me, Mathcad is a graphical calculator--in fact when it first came out and we ran it in DOS, it was very quick and I got to where I used it instead of a calculator because I could save my work and reuse it later. After about ver 7, they tried to cram so many features into it, it became bloated and is slow to startup and run. I still use it, especially with my legacy stuff, but excel does alot of what I need.

I like Maple when trying to solve symbolic math -- solving for variables, roots, etc. Once I get my equations, I put them in excel or mathcad. I know there are symbolic solvers in mathcad and matlab now, but I tend to go with what I know

Ignoring all the inefficiencies in Matlab, it is still not a great programing language in my opinion. They do a lot of things differently from most other languages, like starting indexes at 1 instead of 0 (that's all I can think of off the top of my head, besides obvious syntax differences).

I haven't used any of the other math software mentioned here, though, so I can't make any comparisons.

If you are an undergrad, then any of the packages will be able to handle the calculus you are doing. As a generalization, I would characterize Maple and Mathematica as being geared more toward mathematicians, and the other two more for engineers. Since you are a student, I would suggest getting the one with the best academic discount.

For the record, that function was provided to us, and they only gave us P-code (precompiled code, kind of like java bytecode), so I was not able to view the source and see what was causing the problem or try to optimize it. I could try to rewrite it, but that's too much work!...but there is more of a learning curve to using it effectively - otherwise you can end up using all your memory to analyze a few milliseconds of data..

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100% true (unfortunately).In the space industry, Excel is probably used for 80+% of the engineering calculations, because it's quick and easy for simple calculations

Sure it's fine for simple things, but then people start trying to use excel to extract data from text logs with all kinds of crazy formulae, and then hitting the 65k lines limit and then finding that you can only use 32k of those lines in a plot. While I sit there and craft a quick grep/sed/awk command quicker than they can open excel

We've had licences for pretty much all the main engineering packages, but tbh, all of those that were purchased for general use have never really been used. They only really make sense when a system is designed from the outset to use a specific package.

On a previous project, we had to sample about 8 different packages, before we could make a decision, and were treated to a free demo day at the main UK distributor (which fortunately handled about 5 of them). It really can be a case of "I need to do this... what package can do this best?", rather than "I have this package, now how do I get it to do what I want?".

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Thanks,

Mike