Confessions of a Mathematica Addict
September 19, 2001--Associate Professor John Browne of Swinburne
University of Technology is a self-described "Mathematica addict,"
using Mathematica not only as an
all-purpose teaching tool in the classroom but also exclusively for his
research. Why Mathematica? Says Browne, "It provides a high-level
programming, computation, and graphics environment in which professionals
can prototype their ideas and computations, create packages encapsulating
their algorithms, and make them easily available to colleagues around the
Browne teaches an undergraduate-level engineering design course as well as
a Mathematica-based programming course for second-year engineering
students. He says Mathematica is ideal for developing formulas
symbolically in his engineering design class. "We don't need to be
satisfied with one-off calculations any more. Now, Mathematica can
develop many of the complex general design formulas we need, live in front
of the class."
One of Browne's research interests is Grassmann algebra, which is now
emerging as a potential mathematical system for describing such diverse
applications as engineering mechanics and fundamental theories of matter.
Why was he drawn to Grassmann algebra? Says Browne, "As an engineer, what
enticed me to distraction was that Grassmann algebra could represent a
force in such a way that Newton's law for rigid bodies reduced to just one
equation, instead of the standard two equations for the force and moment
vectors when using three-dimensional vector algebra."
Browne has been working on a Grassmann algebra package for
that will significantly reduce the time needed for calculations. "Now I
could do all my theoretical computations, be assured of their correctness,
do them in orders-of-magnitude less time, and have the results nicely and
legibly presented," he says. Browne is also writing a book
entitled Grassmann Algebra: Exploring Applications of Extended
Vector Algebra with Mathematica.
In addition, Browne and a colleague recently started Quantica Pty Ltd, a
Mathematica consulting company. Its mission is to specialize in all
Mathematica-related from training and consulting to webMathematica
and technical publishing.
story about John Browne and Mathematica is available in the
higher education section of our web site.