24 July 2013

Little iPython notebook test

After wanting to experiment with the iPython Notebook for a while, I finally decided to do it to produce a step by step analytic calculation. This calculation involved some standard Gaussian integrals and I performed it half a year ago with the help of Mathematica (via their web interface) and some old good pen and paper.

So, as a proof of concept as a learning experience I sat down to replicate in a coherent way what I already had done. First started watching these three video tutorial performed at the SciPy Conference in Texas this year (part1, part2, part3) to get acquainted to magical notebook.

A screenshot of the iPython Notebook. And yes, it runs as a sort of web service!

To add support for symbolic mathematics (CAS) I used SymPy. The result of my little experiment can be seen live here. I have to say, that after some experience with other notebook like environments (particularly Maple 10 years ago), iPython notebook is awesome! I have to recognize that I had my doubts about the browser based environment, but it gives so much flexibility and annexed technologies to make use of (for example JavaScript and CSS).

I cannot recommend it enough to free yourself of Mathematica-like closed environments and to have a fully powered programming environment along. I will definitely continue using it, probably mostly to produce other interactive tutorial-like material in physics.

For more information and examples, this is an online renderer of notebooks and here a gallery of interesting notebooks curated by the people behind iPython.

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