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Publisher:

Chapman & Hall/CRC

Publication Date:

2011

Number of Pages:

260

Format:

Paperback

Series:

Discrete Mathematics and Its Applications

Price:

39.95

ISBN:

9781439846063

Category:

Textbook

[Reviewed by , on ]

John D. Cook

02/10/2011

Mathematics students, particularly graduate students, need to learn a variety of tools, often with little guidance. Somewhere along the way they learn LaTeX and become familiar with packages such as Mathematica, MATLAB, R, etc. Donald Bindner and Martin Erickson have written a book to introduce mathematics students to these tools: *A Student’s Guide to the Study, Practice, and Tools of Modern Mathematics*.

The first 20% of the book is general advice on studying mathematics. The latter 80% of the book is devoted to software. The book says little about the study and practice of modern mathematics but much more about its tools.

*A Student’s Guide* surveys many software packages in 200 pages and so the space devoted to each is necessarily limited. However, each section ends with references for further reading. Also, some packages, such as LaTeX, appropriately receive more attention than others. Since LaTeX is the de facto standard for mathematical typesetting, it does not need to share space with rivals.

No computational package has the same dominance that LaTeX has in typesetting, and so the authors survey several packages with overlapping functionality: Mathematica, Maple, Maxima, MATLAB, Octave, and R. (SAGE, which is both very powerful and free, is not mentioned.) The authors discuss creating graphics with these packages and also survey more packages for specifically for graphics: PSTricks, PostScript, gnuplot, Graphviz, Geometer’s Sketchpad, and GeoGerba.

The broad scope of the book is an advantage for someone wanting to survey the possibilities. Some readers, however, might prefer a book that discusses fewer options but goes into more depth or one that gives more advice on which tools to use for which tasks.

The coverage of some topics is so brief as to provide little value. For example, in the chapter How to choose a programming language, the languages Perl, Ruby, and Python share half a page. The chapter did not mention that Python is far more common in scientific computing than the other two languages, nor did it mention Python’s SciPy and matplotlib libraries.

*A Student’s Guide* provides a useful service by gathering into one place information that students might otherwise be expected to learn by osmosis.

John D. Cook is a research statistician at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and blogs daily at The Endeavour.

**THE STUDY AND PRACTICE OF MODERN MATHEMATICSIntroduction **

** **

**How to Learn Mathematics**

Why Learn Mathematics?

Studying Mathematics

Homework Assignments and Problem Solving

Tests

Inspiration

** **

**How to Write Mathematics**

What Is the Goal of Mathematical Writing?

General Principles of Mathematical Writing

Writing Mathematical Sentences

Avoiding Errors

Writing Mathematical Solutions and Proofs

Writing Longer Mathematical Works

The Revision Process

** **

**How to Research Mathematics**

What Is Mathematical Research?

Finding a Research Topic

General Advice

Taking Basic Steps

Fixing Common Problems

Using Resources

Practicing Good Mathematical Judgment

** **

**How to Present Mathematics**

Why Give a Presentation of Mathematics?

Preparing Your Talk

Do’s and Don’ts

Using Technology

Answering Questions

Publishing Your Research

**Looking Ahead: Taking Professional Steps **

** **

**What Is It Like Being a Mathematician? **

** **

**Guide to Web Resources **

** **

**A Mathematical Scavenger Hunt**

Mathematicians

Mathematical Concepts

Mathematical Challenges

Mathematical Culture

Mathematical Fun

**THE TOOLS OF MODERN MATHEMATICSIntroduction**

**Getting Started with LaTeX**

What Is TeX?

What Is LaTeX?

How to Create LaTeX Files

How to Create and Typeset a Simple LaTeX Document

How to Add Basic Information to Your Document

How to Do Elementary Mathematical Typesetting

How to Do Advanced Mathematical Typesetting

How to Use Graphics

How to Learn More

**Getting Started with PSTricks **What Is PSTricks?

How to Make Simple Pictures

How to Plot Functions

How to Make Pictures with Nodes

How to Learn More

** **

**Getting Started with Beamer**

What Is Beamer?

How to Think in Terms of Frames

How to Set up a Beamer Document

How to Enhance a Beamer Presentation

How to Learn More

** **

**Getting Started with Mathematica, Maple, and Maxima**

What Is a Computer Algebra System (CAS)?

How to Use a CAS as a Calculator

How to Compute Functions

How to Make Graphs

How to Do Simple Programming

How to Learn More

** **

**Getting Started with MATLAB and Octave**

What Are MATLAB and Octave?

How to Explore Linear Algebra

How to Plot a Curve in Two Dimensions

How to Plot a Surface in Three Dimensions

How to Manipulate the Appearance of Plots

Other Considerations

How to Learn More

** **

**Getting Started with R**

What Is R?

How to Use R as a Calculator

How to Explore and Describe Data

How to Explore Relationships

How to Test Hypotheses

How to Generate Table Values and Simulate Data

How to Make a Plot Ready to Print

How to Learn More

** **

**Getting Started with HTML**What Is HTML?

How to Create a Simple Web Page

How to Add Images to Your Web Pages

How to Add Links to Your Web Pages

How to Design Your Web Pages

How to Organize Your Web Pages

How to Learn More

**Getting Started with Geometer’s Sketchpad and GeoGebra**

What Are Geometer’s Sketchpad and GeoGebra?

How to Use Geometer’s Sketchpad

How to Use GeoGebra

How to Do More Elaborate Sketches in Geometer’s Sketchpad

How to Do More Elaborate Sketches in GeoGebra

How to Export Images from Geometer’s Sketchpad and GeoGebra

How to Learn More

** **

**Getting Started with PostScript**

What Is PostScript?

How to Use the Stack

How to Make Simple Pictures

How to Add Text to Pictures

How to Use Programming Constructs

How to Add Color to Pictures

More Examples

How to Learn More

**Getting Started with Computer Programming Languages**

Why Program?

How to Choose a Language

How to Learn More

**Getting Started with Free and Open Source Software**

What Is Free and Open Source Software?

Why Use Free and Open Source Software?

What Is Linux?

How to Install Linux

Where to Get Linux Applications

How Is Linux Familiar?

How Is Linux Different?

How to Learn More

**Putting It All Together **

**Bibliography **

**Index**

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