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I am an avid Mathematica user. Not because I need to evaluate that much math, but because I really like its wysiwyg notebook structure for note-taking. It's great for keeping up with lectures and including decent looking equations and tables when they come up (which is fairly often in technical classes). The export to latex is a nice added bonus.

As far as I know, there aren't great alternatives to the Mathematica front end - I'd love to be proven wrong, through.




The ipython notebook is rapidly moving in that direction. See http://nbviewer.ipython.org/ for some examples. It can even embed R, ruby, bash, and Perl code.

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Personally I'm looking forward to start playing with this: http://reference.wolfram.com/mathematica/RLink/guide/RLink.h...

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If you do, make sure to read this discussion: http://mathematica.stackexchange.com/questions/16657/special...

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part of what makes Mathematica notebooks particularly powerful is that they are Mathematica expressions themselves (Mathematica expressions are M-expressions), thus they can be thoroughly manipulated in all sorts of ways.

then there's Dynamic[1], which is the most straightforward event mechanism you're going to find in any language

[1] http://reference.wolfram.com/mathematica/ref/Dynamic.html

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check out the sagemath project, too.

http://wiki.sagemath.org/sage_mathematica

there are some other electronic notebooks out there but not many do latexification, drawing of inline graphs, etc.

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Yes! I took all of my math notes in university in Mathematica notebooks. Lead to much quicker and deeper understanding of the material, not to mention the side effect that I then knew how to actually use the math to solve real problems.

One thing that came out of that was a nice Wheatstone Bridge calculator w/ GUI that was really useful for prototyping signal acquisition circuits.

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Ugh. Ask your professor to provide notes, so you can learn, instead of scribe. Or offer to provide yours, with compensation for your efforts.

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