# Integrals!

February 27, 2007 11:35 AM Subscribe

The Integrator is Mathematica's integration capabilities, available over the web. Other online resources from Wolfram include Tones, an automatic music generator, and the venerable Mathworld, an extensive collection of math terms and theorems. (which, yes, has been mentioned previously.)

From my infrequently-used-but-when-I-need-it-I-NEED-it bookmark: online math tools (of which The Integrator) is one.

posted by DU at 11:48 AM on February 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

posted by DU at 11:48 AM on February 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

*Gah! Wolfram, where were you in 1990 when I needed you!*

Heh. Three years after that, Mathematica was seriously fucking up my education; the head of our math department was so deeply in love with the program that my first two quarters of Calc were almost solely devoted to learning how to plug things into Mathematica. I still hold a grudge.

posted by COBRA! at 11:51 AM on February 27, 2007

The other branches of ScienceWorld are less known that MathWorld (they're newer, and not nearly as comprehensive), and hard to find links to from elsewhere on the site. I love the functions site, too. Then again, I'm a complete nerd for coding in Mathematica. It's a beautiful, beautiful language.

posted by Wolfdog at 11:54 AM on February 27, 2007

posted by Wolfdog at 11:54 AM on February 27, 2007

Symbolic integration, by the way, has reached heights I never expected. The same is true for summation of series. Sometimes it's just jaw-dropping, even if you're acquainted with some of the machinery behind the scenes.

posted by Wolfdog at 11:57 AM on February 27, 2007

posted by Wolfdog at 11:57 AM on February 27, 2007

*I still hold a grudge.*

Three years later, safely beyond the grasp of math professors, out came Maple. Yeah. I was bitter. But not much, because back in the day it was harder to encode a complex formula for Maple than it was to just integrate it by hand. Well, for the stuff I was doing, which was merely senior undergrad work as opposed to first-year undergrad work. Those Maple guys needs to get their web on.

posted by GuyZero at 12:00 PM on February 27, 2007

I was about to sigh about how I wished I had access to this at the beginning of my mathematical education in college, but then I realized

posted by grobstein at 12:31 PM on February 27, 2007

*I did*(though not on the web).posted by grobstein at 12:31 PM on February 27, 2007

This is awesome, as my Calc class just started Integration yesterday! Thanks.

posted by jesirose at 12:43 PM on February 27, 2007

posted by jesirose at 12:43 PM on February 27, 2007

This is awesome, 'cause I lost my TI-89 years ago.

posted by thecaddy at 12:53 PM on February 27, 2007

posted by thecaddy at 12:53 PM on February 27, 2007

How does Mathematica compare to Matlab? I've used Matlab for doing financial modeling but never used Mathematica ... worth the switch?

posted by geoff. at 1:25 PM on February 27, 2007

posted by geoff. at 1:25 PM on February 27, 2007

geoff.:

Mathematica's big strength is its ability to do symbolic computations.

MATLAB cannot do this unless you are using the rather unintuitive sym toolbox (which is really just a front end to Maple anyway).

posted by NormieP at 1:43 PM on February 27, 2007

Mathematica's big strength is its ability to do symbolic computations.

MATLAB cannot do this unless you are using the rather unintuitive sym toolbox (which is really just a front end to Maple anyway).

posted by NormieP at 1:43 PM on February 27, 2007

geoff: It depends on what you're using it for. In my engineering school there is a bitter divide between departments over which is better, but they are quite similar. If you've found Matlab useful, it probably isn't worth the effort to switch.

posted by tylermoody at 1:46 PM on February 27, 2007

posted by tylermoody at 1:46 PM on February 27, 2007

No, they aren't very similar at all unless your scope is limited to doing 2+2 kind of stuff that you could do on an old-school scientific calculator anyway.

posted by Wolfdog at 1:59 PM on February 27, 2007

posted by Wolfdog at 1:59 PM on February 27, 2007

*Have math problems to solve? Get the right answers with Mathematica for Students.*

Now where was this when I was in calc?

posted by caddis at 2:37 PM on February 27, 2007

I found this post derivative.

posted by staggernation at 3:00 PM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by staggernation at 3:00 PM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Am I the only person who gets irritated by the existence of yet another single-purpose language? Seriously, why can't Mathematica (and MATLAB/Maple) use Perl or Python or something *standard* as its scripting language of choice?

posted by spaceman_spiff at 3:50 PM on February 27, 2007

posted by spaceman_spiff at 3:50 PM on February 27, 2007

Well, Mathematica long predates PHP and had its first public version appear roughly contemporaneously with Perl 1.0. It would have taken some kind of foresight, hm? In any event, Mathematica is a functional language; its philosophy has about as much in common with Perl and PHP as chalk has with cheese.

posted by Wolfdog at 4:01 PM on February 27, 2007

posted by Wolfdog at 4:01 PM on February 27, 2007

spaceman_spiff: Mathematica has been around since 1988, so it's almost exactly the same age as Perl and is several years older than Python. It's not such a surprise that it uses its own language.

posted by xil at 4:14 PM on February 27, 2007

posted by xil at 4:14 PM on February 27, 2007

Heh, this reminds me of the time my physics TA returned a problem set to me with the note "please do not use an integral table for these simple integrals".

For those discussing the Matlab/Mathmatica difference: I've not used Mathematica but Matlab is designed for doing linear algebra and manipulating arrays. I find it very useful for data analysis and other operations where the native entity is a vector or an array. My understanding is that Mathematica is designed more for solving equations.

And Matlab dates to 1984, so it also has a good reason for not using perl/python/php/etc.

posted by pombe at 5:14 PM on February 27, 2007

For those discussing the Matlab/Mathmatica difference: I've not used Mathematica but Matlab is designed for doing linear algebra and manipulating arrays. I find it very useful for data analysis and other operations where the native entity is a vector or an array. My understanding is that Mathematica is designed more for solving equations.

And Matlab dates to 1984, so it also has a good reason for not using perl/python/php/etc.

posted by pombe at 5:14 PM on February 27, 2007

Bad choice of language examples on my part ... I'm still frustrated that these programs use their own languages, as opposed to languages that are "out there" in the wild.

But then, I suppose I'm just being lazy. I'd rather use the chainsaw I have than the Xacto knife I'd have to go buy.

posted by spaceman_spiff at 5:32 PM on February 27, 2007

But then, I suppose I'm just being lazy. I'd rather use the chainsaw I have than the Xacto knife I'd have to go buy.

posted by spaceman_spiff at 5:32 PM on February 27, 2007

Yeah, I'm totally a maxima man. It's pretty awesome.

And.....Viva la R!

posted by redbeard at 5:51 PM on February 27, 2007

And.....Viva la R!

posted by redbeard at 5:51 PM on February 27, 2007

Oh, the integrator, favored tool of me when I was in my first year of college.

Of course, now I'm in my fourth year and I kind of panic a little when I'm asked to do calculus.

posted by crinklebat at 5:53 PM on February 27, 2007

Of course, now I'm in my fourth year and I kind of panic a little when I'm asked to do calculus.

posted by crinklebat at 5:53 PM on February 27, 2007

If I'm reading you right, you seem to have the idea that the language is something auxilliary that has been grafted onto a computer algebra system; the fact is that Mathematica or Maple simply

posted by Wolfdog at 5:53 PM on February 27, 2007

*is*a language, nothing more, nothing less; they were invented because no other existing language made it comfortable and natural to do the things mathematicians (or at least, their authors) routinely want to do. Saying "Why doesn't Mathematica just use Perl?" (or any other language you like) makes about as much sense as saying "Why doesn't LISP just use C?" What the heck would that even mean?posted by Wolfdog at 5:53 PM on February 27, 2007

wolfdog, i totally agree, btw - the functions site is about the most useful free thing in the universe. saved my ass more than once last semester (up yours, j.d. jackson!)

posted by sergeant sandwich at 8:44 PM on February 27, 2007

posted by sergeant sandwich at 8:44 PM on February 27, 2007

*How does Mathematica compare to Matlab? I've used Matlab for doing financial modeling but never used Mathematica ... worth the switch?*

At a conference, I once heard someone offer this comparison:

"When Matlab crashes, it crashes fast."

*Bad choice of language examples on my part ... I'm still frustrated that these programs use their own languages, as opposed to languages that are "out there" in the wild.*

Both M's are deeply smart software that have been around for years, from when it was necessary to write a new language to do such deep math. Still, I think it would be great if "someone" (i.e. the ubiquitous someone other than me, with plenty of time for such a mammoth task) made a computer mathematical system based on a more modern or flexible language. Although Wolfram has made noise about making Mathematica a more general programming environment / language, in my experience it's ill-suited for such a thing: slow, resource-hungry and you need to use it daily to stay familiar.

(Note: to clarify, Mathematica is fabulous for what it does. Above, I'm disparaging it's ability to do non-mathematical tasks.)

posted by outlier at 6:46 AM on February 28, 2007

Sucks to you, fancy software! My TI-92 saved my life more times than I care to count. Sure, it didn't make girls like me in college, but who needs that when your calculator can do symbolic integrals?

Oh, I needed that.

posted by jewzilla at 7:04 PM on February 28, 2007

Oh, I needed that.

posted by jewzilla at 7:04 PM on February 28, 2007

*but who needs that when your calculator can do symbolic integrals*

this is why you need a puppy. calculators solve math problems, and puppies solve people problems.

posted by caddis at 7:25 PM on February 28, 2007

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posted by GuyZero at 11:44 AM on February 27, 2007