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Mathcad – what is it. A fancy calculator. A problem solving tool. A unit converter. An equation writer. We will explore pieces of all of these. Mathcad is a Windows type program. Menu bar across the top. Toolbars & buttons in other rows. Many of the tool palettes “float”.

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Mathcad – what is it

A fancy calculator

A problem solving tool

A unit converter

An equation writer

We will explore pieces of all of these


Mathcad is a Windows type program

Menu bar across the top

Toolbars & buttons in other rows

Many of the tool palettes “float”


Main use of Mathcad is for mathematical calculations(duh!)

Write formulae using variables & numbers & math symbols


Mathcad has a lot of pre-defined names that are very useful:

c The speed of light

g Acceleration due to gravity

And a host of units, so many unit conversions are done automagically:

m meter

ft ft

kg kilogram

lb pound


Mathcad Variable Names

A string of characters (including numbers and some

“special” characters (e.g. #, %, _, and a few more)

Cannot start with a number

Capitalization & spelling count!!!

A1 is different from a1

Be careful not to conflict with predefined name

(e.g. g = acceleration due to gravity, m = meter,

etc. -- which we will discuss later)

Be careful that variables and functions have different names



The “.” (period) starts a text subscript, which really is

part of the variable name

A1 is different from A1

The “[“ indicates an array subscript. Thus

A1 indicates an element in the array A

(it is the second element, as array

subscripts start with 0 by default

in Mathcad)

And, unfortunately, the two are very difficult to tell apart when you just look at them. Avoid the superscript tool on the tool bar!


To build equations, Mathcad has three or four types of equal signs

Need to keep them straight and know when to use each!!!!



Type a “:” and see “:=“

Assigns value on right side to variable on left


Type a “=“ and see a “=“

Evaluates expression on left and displays on right


Type a “ctrl = “ and see a bold = sign

Boolean Equal:

Indicates a logical equivalence between the left and right sides (Don’t worry about the details of this, but watch for its use.)

This is tough to see, but in Mcad the = sign is bold.

Main use is in solving equations.



or replacement:

Type a “~” and see three horizontal lines

Causes expression on left to be replaced by expression on right everywhere in the worksheet

Would cause all occurrences of “A” to be replaced by

y2 + 3

We won’t use this one, but here for completeness


And something to remember:

Mathcad evaluates the worksheet from left to right and top to bottom every time the worksheet is evaluated.

(unless you set the option to manual recalculation)


Do some of the tutorials




Getting Started Primers


Entering Math Expressions


Calculating with Variables.