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Y. Zinder, N. Nicorovici, T. Langtry

University of Technology Sydney (AUSTRALIA)
One of the major challenges in teaching applied mathematics is the large amount of calculation involved in many practical mathematical methods. On one hand, mastering these methods requires students to gain experience in performing all steps of a calculation. This experience is crucial for gaining an understanding of the methods, their capabilities and limitations, and cannot be replaced by black box type commercial software which simply displays the results of calculations and gives no insight into the nature of the operations performed. On the other hand, the calculations involved in many modern mathematical methods are tedious and time consuming with fatal results caused by even minor computational mistakes.

The advent of computer algebra systems such as Mathematica opened new horizons in teaching mathematics. The ability to perform symbolic calculations in combination with powerful graphics and programming capabilities makes it possible to develop software that provides students with the opportunity for step by step exploration of mathematical procedures. We present the results of an ongoing research project aimed at the development of a Mathematica based platform which allows academics to develop software for self-paced learning.