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T R O T T ’ S C O R N E R
Why Care about Mathematical Functions?
Special functions occur in exact models and approximate solutions of virtually thousands of problems in mathematics and the exact sciences. Typical examples are the eigenfunctions of a quantum mechanical harmonic oscillator that contain Hermite polynomials, or Bessel functions that appear in the solution of Newton’s equations of motion for a chain of masses connected by springs. There are so many examples that I do not even attempt to give references at this point. The fact that these functions were given a name indicates their role in the exact sciences better than anything else.
Mathematica users are surely used to a variety of special functions returned by functions such as Integrate, Sum, and DSolve. Here are some typical examples.
Why Make Such a Website at All?
While Mathematica is able to perform a variety of operations on special functions, it does not completely replace special functions textbooks and reference books. Here is a list of the main reasons why such a website is still needed at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
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