Saturday, February 24, 2007

Using maxima -- baby steps

The use of symbolic computing makes it easy to visualize and solve problems that were otherwise dry and would put you to sleep. To test the simplicity of a freely available tool called maxima, I tried to solve a common problem with it.

The problem is quite simple, remember high school physics? Well I don't :-). Consider a tuning fork, which oscillates and produces a sound (depending on it's frequency).

We start by entering the mathematical model of the fork

'm*diff(x(t), t, 2)=-k*x(t);

Maxima prints

We now request maxima to solve the equation for us by


Maxima asks

Is k * m positive, negative, or zero? We say positive

Maxima prints

We ask maxima to simplify the result for us


Maxima outputs

That's it, we have our solution.

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