What is the policy for using symbolic manipulation on homework sets?

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You are welcome to use symbolic manipulation programs as long as you show any derivations that are required to demonstrate understanding of the solution that you present (eg, don't just give the answer, but show the steps that demonstrate you understand what the answer represents).

One word of warning: we typically don't allow the use of Mathematica, Maple, MATLAB symbolic toolbox, etc on the midterm or final, since that could give unfair advantage to students who know how to use it versus those who work things by hand. So you should use those tools to make sure your algebra is right, not to avoid thinking about the derivation completely.

--Richard Murray, posted by Julia Braman 21:36, 5 October 2008 (PDT)