Like Mathematica and Maple, MatLab has now been around long enough to have a wide variety of custom plug in applications available, many free on the web (.M files are source/ASCII; .MAT are immediately executable binary files). Since MathWorks dropped Maple as a sub (graphic) engine and added MuPAD, MatLab's graphics (already the best) have been supercharged. The latest edition (2010) of Pratap's fine book picks up at release 6-- and MathWorks is now selling release 12+. The book is completely up to date. Oxford's update website for the book is not yet up for this release ([...]) at the time of this review, which is surprising since the book's been around for 16 years.
Don't let the title mislead you-- because of its power, both MatLab and this beginner's guide are outstanding for ANY field that is vector process driven, or graphically intensive, including Neurology, Molecular Biology, Finance, and video game programming to name a few-- any field that is heavy on vectors and matrices, in fact (MatLab stands for MatrixLaboratory). Don't let the Matrix foundation scare you, however, because the popularity of this program has now brought it up to Mathematica and Maple level with symbolic math also (the SM toolbox comes with the student editions of the software), which means MatLab will not only process flat files from other sources (including C, Fortran and Java as well as Mathematica and Maple), but its own algebraic/symbolic calculation power is just as formidable as Mathematica once you learn it, with the added benefit of being able to breeze through 2D, 3D and even animation graphics.
If you're in an advanced calculus, numerical analysis, Fourier, or even applications class, you'll love the graphics in this program, which are very intuitive, and Pratap does a great job hitting just the right starting points. It is a seamless transition from Pratap to MatLab's own online help documentation. Add plug ins from your own field, or discs and files available from publishers in many fields, and you've got the 1-2-3 punch to get really good, really fast, with this program.
The astonishing thing about both this book and the program, is that you can approach as a user from any level of competence, because the program itself encompasses a progression from simple use as an application (like Excel), to user-defined functions (like macros or writing in Visual Basic), to actual object-level programming (yes, this also is a high level language with a DOS/Fortran/Unix/C++ like interface with program/file lines in which you also can write custom applications, and the software automatically compiles your coding and even seamlessly uses your own user-written functions like they were the program's own built-in functions!). For a beginner, this means you can get modules written specifically in your field, and this book and the program step you into using them right away, even if you do no programming at all.
If your future field is math/graphics intensive (and even ODE's and PDE's are now thought of more as graphs than just functions), this book and familiarity with MatLab is a must. Even high level compiled applications programs (such as those used to program video games, and the Adobe matrix/vector code) dump back and forth between MatLab, which allows the user to see the underlying vectors to adjust input and output, without having to work at the polynomial level. The program is so user friendly, that you can animate functions that you don't even understand (ok, your unconscious will be doing Fourier transforms as your brain resonates with the graphics, but you don't have to be applying chain rules in your prefrontal cortex at the same time).
This little guide is a MUST HAVE and great starting point if you're ready to supercharge your understanding of math graphically and via animation-- regardless of your field. And if you teach-- what a treat for your students to see what those functions and transforms look like when animated!
- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: OUP USA (25 February 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199731241
- ISBN-13: 978-0199731244
- Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 1.8 x 19 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 499 g
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