Teaching Calculus with MATLAB
Jiro's pick this week is Teaching Calculus with MATLAB by the TCM Team.
I really like these apps that the folks from TU Darmstadt and University of Stuttgart created for teaching various calculus concepts. Many concepts taught in calculus can can be better understood if the students can visualize them. Back when I was in college, I remember learning the Newton's Method on paper, drawing tangent lines iteratively to find a root of a function. Just the fact I could draw (visualize) the process made it easier to understand.
It would be even better if I could repeat this learning experience for an arbitrary function. Using interactive apps like the ones the TCM Team made improves the experience greatly.
Here are a couple of other examples, polynomial interpolation and steepest descent.
In addition to the pure usefulness of these apps in teaching situations, here are my other reasons I like this submission.
- Well-written MATLAB code. All of the apps are written in a consistent manner, making use of nested functions to share two common structures across the app, one for maintaining the data specific to the concept and another for the user interface. Well-written code means maintainable code.
- Similar UI for all apps. Because all apps look similar with similar set of buttons and parameters, it's easy for you to use any of the other apps once you learn to use one.
- Because of points 1 and 2, the team can easily create other apps for other concepts, which they intend to do in the future.
Give this a try and let us know what you think here or leave a comment for the TCM Team.
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