App for calculus students (one-variable plotting)
Jiro‘s Pick this week is ez plotter by Martin C.
For my work, I spend a lot of my time thinking about how MATLAB can help with the learning and understanding of mathematical concepts. Being able to try things out themselves and immediately see the effect of the change is an important aspect of active learning.
By its nature, MATLAB gives you that immediate feedback and the ability to change things on the fly. With a UI front end, one can focus the attention of the learner to a particular aspect of a problem. Martin created this app to allow learners to “ezily” plot one-variable functions and interact with them.
Martin has customized the interactivity of the plot to allow constrained zooming (vertical, horizontal). He included abilities to set axes limits, add labels, and customize line properties. He also created a short tutorial on YouTube showing how to use the app.
One small feature that I’d like to highlight is the ability he added to allow for users to type “10x” instead of “10*x”. I think this is a convenience he added to allow for notation similar to what students use in calculus courses. One can argue that this may be discouraging students from learning MATLAB syntax, but I think for this purpose the convenience is a good reason for this feature. If I were to make an enhancement request, it would be great if it also allowed for a more complete flexibility in the notation, such as $2cos(5x)sin(2x)$. Perhaps a nice text parsing challenge. :)
Give it a try and let us know what you think here or leave a comment for Martin.
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