For students in high school or college that are taking advanced mathematics or science courses, performing some of the more advanced calculations and graphing routines that are required can be somewhat difficult to learn. Microsoft now offers an impressive, free application called Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 that offers just about everything that most of the more expensive advanced calculators offer, and Microsoft provides it as a free download
This isn't just your standard calculator, it is a dramatically improved calculator application that is like the standard Windows calculator on steroids. You'll find tools and features that will help you solve complicated algebraic equations, geometry calculations and even advanced calculus formulas and graphs like integrals and derivatives.
In the following review, you'll see just how feature-filled Microsoft Mathematics actually is, and how much it can help any student accomplish much more with their homework assignments. It's also useful for scientists, engineers or anyone else that requires a more advanced toolset for mathematic calculations.
The Main Calculator
When you first launch Microsoft Calculator 4.0, the part of the application that will probably attract your attention first is the realistic-looking calculator pad. It sits on the left side of the application window and actually looks like a large scientific calculator, complete with a glowing green LCD screen with all of the advanced functions you can use. You can change the look and feel of this calculator pad using the "Skins" button under the File menu.
The advanced features available in this calculator are tucked away under the drop down menus on the calculator LED screen. When you click on the "+" sign next to options like "Calculus" or "Statistics", you'll see all of the functions that are available under that category. For example, under calculus you'll find functions for derivatives, integrals, summation and more.
Working in the Worksheet Area
When you're ready to start trying to solve equations, click on the "Worksheet" tab on the right pane and type the formula into the bottom text field. When you press "enter", that formula gets reformatted into a form that you're familiar to seeing in a mathematics textbook. This is placed as an "input." The calculator does its best to solve the formula into its simplest form and places the result in the "Output" field. This is probably the simplest use of this scientific calculator - to solve equations.
If you want to take a graphical approach to analyzing the formula you've typed in (if there are unknown variables), just click on the "Graphing" tab. In this view, you'll see either a 2D or 3D graphical representation of your formula, depending on the graphic view you've selected. This view charts values into an x,y,z coordinate system. You'll see ways that you can manipulate these graphs in the left menu panel.
When you're in the graphing view, at the top of the screen you'll see the "graphing tools" menu. This is where you can tweak the graphical view of your formula by choosing options like proportional display, toggle between a color surface and wireframe, spin or rotate the graph, hide the axes or zoom in and out. It's a perfect view to really explore and examine in detail the graphical output of any mathematical formula.
In the worksheet view, you'll see the top menu bar switch to the list of tools for typing formulas into the lower text field. There are two areas of this menu that are especially impressive, the Ink input feature and the list of additional tools that are available.
Ink Entry Mode
When you click on the "Ink" entry mode rather than the keyboard mode, you can actually write the formula by hand, and Microsoft Mathematics will analyze your handwriting and convert it into the formula that it believes you're trying to write. For students or scientists that use a digital writing tablet with their computer, this is a very useful feature for quickly inputting formulas into the advanced calculator.
Additional Calculator Tools
If you click on the "tools" button in the top menu bar, you'll see four tools you can use that extend the capabilities of this calculator even further. These tools include a small equation solver that will quickly solve a single equation with one unknown, a reference area with a list of formulas and equations in fields like trigonometry, physics, chemistry and more. One of the most innovative tools is the "triangle solver," which lets you type in just a few unknown measurements of a triangle and it solves for the remaining sides and angles.
The Triangle Solver
This tool is useful not only to help students with their homework problems, but also in a wide range of applications in physics, the sciences and even engineering, where just a few unknown dimensions of a triangle are known and the remaining dimensions are needed.
Steps and Rules
The best aspect of Microsoft Mathematics for students is that whether you're solving equations or solving for triangle dimensions, you'll typically find that the calculator provides more information as to how problems are solved, and not only a simple output of the answer. This makes it easier to understand how the solution was developed and to learn the underlying principles of those calculations.
There are many scientific calculator applications available for Windows users, but Microsoft certainly went above and beyond in developing this free application. Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 offers enough features and tools to easily assist students in both high school and college with any advanced math problems they may need to solve.
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