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I'm curious whether Mathematica could help me in software development or not. Do you use it for that, and for what? For instance, do you use it to analyze algorithms, or to do something else?

I will probably buy myself a (student) license, but I'm not completely sure (if it isn't good for software development, I might still use of it for math, of course).

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No. Never used it, never needed it. I imagine it would depend upon the type of development you're doing, though. – Michael Todd Jan 27 '11 at 18:29
As I never calculate complex calculations (I do let the computer calculate lots of calculations, but relatively simple ones), it's not a necessity for me. My lovely Google Chrome Developers Tools window can handle all the calculations directly in JavaScript which is just sufficient for me. – pimvdb Jan 27 '11 at 18:45
No, I also do not use a calculator and my NumLock key is always off. – Job Jan 27 '11 at 23:54
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Mathematica is a truly fantastic tool which allows you to analyze and visualize large amounts of data, and many many other things which can be very helpful.

If you are not very well acquainted with Mathematica and you do not do scientific programming I do not think you will gain much from it, and other tooling - more relevant to the tool chain you use - will most likely be more useful.

WHat were you indending to use it for?

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I'm just 15 and I don't do very math heavy computing right now, but I like math and I might create some math heavy stuff with it. I can of course a – Anto Jan 28 '11 at 13:58
If you find math and programming to be fun, and you want to learn just for the fun of it, I can highly recommend learning Mathematica! The power tools available is truly astonishing. – user1249 Jan 28 '11 at 14:18
Since you are most likely still in school, you should qualify for a student license. If you learn Mathematica well as well as a lot of math, I would expect you to be better qualified for almost any programming job when you leave school. – user1249 Jan 29 '11 at 17:48
@Anto,you might find this answer interesting:… – user1249 Jan 30 '11 at 22:01
Thanks a lot :) – Anto Jan 31 '11 at 14:13

This greatly depends on kind of stuff you're going to develop.

For me, Google + Wikipedia + (very rarely) Wolfram alpha provide enough math reference for problems I solve. I don't do any hardcore stuff, though.

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Wolfram Alpha is indeed good, at least sufficient as a free service. But for programming, I never use it actually, just don't need it. – pimvdb Jan 27 '11 at 18:37

I don't use Mathematica, but I do use a similar but free (as in both speech and beer) program called Maxima. I do very math-heavy work scientific computing work in bioinformatics. I learned Maxima primarily for some math-heavy courses I was taking, and for solving problems that are more domain-related than programming related. Nevertheless, it's since proved occasionally invaluable to me even in a few programming related cases:

  1. It's a very good arbitrary-precision calculator for when I'm trying to figure out simple arithmetic with really huge numbers, for example, figuring out upper bounds on how much memory a program could use or how big a number could get and what integer width I'd need.

  2. If I have an equation that I need to program, plugging it into Maxima will make it easy to see it in all kinds of different forms so I can select the most computationally efficient one.

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I've only used products like Mathematica (Matlab to be precise) when working on DSP projects. While the current job/project involves modeling heat transfer, the folks working on that part of the project are all mechanical engineers. They are using Python not Mathematica.

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