skip page navigationOregon State University

Mathematica Information

This page provides information about the use of Mathematica in PH421, the Paradigms Program and at OSU. Please email the instructor with information you find interesting that should be posted here, or with suggestions about how to make this page more useful.

Physics students must become proficient in a computer algebra program. In the Paradigms program, we use Mathematica, by Wolfram. Similar programs are Maple and MathCad. After many years of using Maple, we have switched to Mathematica because we believe it is a better program and there is better support for it. Mathematica x is installed on the computers in Wngr 212, Wngr 304, Wngr 304F for your use. OSU students may also access Mathematica via OSU's Virtual Software Laboratory, Umbrella. There is also a free Mathmatica "player", which is sotware that allows you to run Mathematica programs, but not alter them. Mathematica 8 student version costs about $140.

Students need not have used Mathematica (or Maple or MathCad) before; we assue no previous knowledge. You will need to learn only very basic techniques, but we hope that you will explore on your own and become ever more proficient. It's a great tool to help you learn. We expect you to make extensive use of the built in Help features and the very impressive tutorials provided by Wolfram. Please collaborate with your fellow students; learn from them and help them to learn. We provide a template notebook with our favorite features (fonts, sizes, plot line thicknesses, etc.) already defined, so that you can start from this template each time.

Site Description Basic "Getting Started" Mathematica tutorials. The first four videos under "Hands-on Start to Mathematica" by Cliff Hastings are essential viewing. They refer to Mathematica 8, which has some new features, so they may have some extraneous info if you're using an earlier version. They are 4 min, 10 min, 7 min and 9 min respectively. The "Mathematica Basics" by Jon McLoone is also helpful. Mathematica's learning center. This has a much wider range of information than the link above (which can be reached from this page). Very helpful with a mutlitude of ways to learn. Videos, tutorials, demos, etc. WolframAlpha - a Mathematica-based computation engine. Enter equations into the box in the window and get instant results. A remarkably powerful piece of sotware. Free Mathematica Player. You can run notebooks (.nb files) , but you can't create new files or new content. OSU's virtual computer lab "Umbrella". OSU students can use Mathematica via this interface.
Download the remote desktop client if you don't already have it, and log on to Umbrella according to the instructions on the page.
Find Mathematica by clicking on: Start (windows logo) -> All programs -> Mathematics -> Mathematica -> Wolfram Mathematica 7
You're ready to use Mathematica and you can save notebooks to your onid account.
Below are Mathematica notebooks created for PH424. Control-click (Mac) or right-click (Windows) on the link and choose "Save as ..." Save the file on your computer, making sure it has a .nb extension and not .txt or anything else. Then open the file with Mathematica. (A normal click simply opens the raw code in the browser.)
PH424 Mathematica template A mathematica notebook that I have created that has some useful default settings.
Traveling & standing waves Difference between "v" and "d(psi)/dt"
Material velocity Difference between "v" and "d(psi)/dt"
Initial conditions Shows how general solution to non-dispersivewave equation develops with different intiial conditions
Reflection and transmission Incident wave is reflected and transmitted at an abrupt boundary (animation)
Displacement and force (pressure) waves Illustration of longitudinal displacement and force waves (animation)
Energy density Potential, kinetic and total energy density in traveling and standing waves
Animate triangle wave Time development of triangle standing wave (hwk 2)
Finite well eigenstates Manipulate the finite well to see effect of the change of the well depth on the eigenstates (note that the zero of potential energy is at the top of the well, not the bottom, as was the convention in class)
Animate Gaussian wave packet Time development of Gaussian wave packet that disperses but does not propagate
Animate Gaussian wave packet Time development of Gaussian wave packet that disperses and propagates