February 15, 2011, 11:42 am
In my Linear Algebra class we use a lot of MATLAB — including on our timed tests and all throughout our class meetings. I want to stress to students that using professional-grade technological tools is an essential part of learning a subject whose real-life applications closely involve the use of those tools. However, there are a few essential calculations in linear algebra, the understanding of which benefits from doing by hand. One of those calculations is row-reduction. Nobody does this by hand; but doing it by hand is useful for understanding elementary row operations and for getting a feel for the numerical processes that are going on under the hood. And it helps with understanding later concepts, notably that of the LU factorization of a matrix.
I have students take a mastery exam where they have to reduce a 3×5 or 4×6 matrix to reduced echelon form by hand. They are not…
February 4, 2010, 10:14 pm
There seem to be two pieces of technology that all mathematicians and other technical professionals use, regardless of how technophobic they might be: email, and \(\LaTeX\). There are ways to typeset mathematical expressions out there that have a more shallow learning curve, but when it comes to flexibility, extendability, and just the sheer aesthetic quality of the result, \(\LaTeX\) has no rival. Plus, it’s free and runs on every computing platform in existence. It even runs on WordPress.com blogs (as you can see here) and just made its entry into Google Documents in miniature form as Google Docs’ equation editor. \(\LaTeX\) is not going anywhere anytime soon, and in fact it seems to be showing up in more and more places as the typesetting system of choice.
But \(\LaTeX\) gets a bad rap as too complicated for normal people to use. It seems to be something people learn …
June 19, 2008, 2:34 pm
Good article here at The Productive Student giving five reasons why students should use \(\LaTeX\) as their word processor and not Microsoft Word:
1. Never worry about formatting again.
2. It looks way better. [By the way: Very nice article on LaTeX's typesetting at that link.]
3. It won’t crash: LaTeX is basically a plain text file. You can edit it anywhere, in any text editor, and it basically can’t crash on you. File size is very small which makes it very portable.
4. It’s great for displaying equations, which is why it’s the leading standard among sciencitifc scholars.
5. It fits in with the workflow of a student and allows you to do one thing well: Write.
The writer also shares some of his practices for writing papers (not necessarily math or science papers) with \(\LaTeX\), stressing \(\LaTeX\)’s ability to handle bibliographic data as the “killer feature”….