 # Engineers: Stop Doing Algebra by Hand!

By Altair Partner Alliance | Maplesoft |

Save Time and Reduce Risk with Computer Algebra Systems
Manual equation manipulation is labor intensive, time consuming, and notoriously prone to error. Simply put, doing algebra by hand is expensive. When faced with expensive processes, engineers find ways to mechanize and cut costs. Math should be no different. Computer algebra systems automate the task of equation manipulation, reducing the need for human involvement and hence eliminate a source of risk. Pioneered originally by mathematicians and physicists, two trends have influenced their popularity with engineers.
• Human-centered design principles have vastly improved usability. Tasks such as equation manipulation, differentiation and ODE solving are now much easier to do, reducing the need for specialized training.
• Computer algebra systems now also offer tools for numerical math, plotting, connectivity, data analysis, documentation and deployment. This means that algebraic computations can be fully integrated into the entire engineering design process.
Better usability and broader capability have, in effect, democratized computer algebra systems. They are now a pragmatic tool for engineers of all skills and disciplines.

Benefits of Computer Algebra Systems
Fewer Errors, and Faster than Manual Equation Manipulation
Manual equation manipulation requires intense cognitive effort. If that level of concentration is not maintained, errors will invariably pollute the equations. Computer algebra systems, however, eliminate the errors that invariably accompany manual equation manipulation, and are much faster. Additionally, removing the cognitive overhead associated with manual equation derivation enables engineers to concentrate on higher-level, higher-value tasks.
Model More Sophisticated Systems
As the size of engineering systems increase linearly, the size of the equations that describe those engineering systems increases exponentially. A key example is the modeling of multiple degree of freedom (DOF) robotic systems. As the number of joints increases, the transformation matrices required to describe joint motion exponentially increase in size. At some point, equation manipulation by hand is impractical; software support is hence needed. A corollary is that computer algebra systems can be used to model more sophisticated engineering systems than is possible by hand.
Computationally Faster than Numeric Computation
Numerical computation refers to the iterative solution of equations using software; this is computationally time-consuming. In many cases, computer algebra systems can be used to rearrange equations to an explicit formulation; this eliminates the need for time-consuming iterative approaches.