I'm a mature student enrolling at a Maths degree course soon at the university. I'd like to be able to use some software package to help me visualize equations, graphs, play around with variables with some sort of sliders, watch the results, use that to help me understand Maths better.
Not interested in "real world" stuff for now (realistic simulations for engineering purposes and stuff like that). Just a good piece of software that I can use to better understand and manipulate and visualize mathematical principles; but at the same time something user friendly enough to allow me to concentrate more on the maths side of things, rather than spending all of my limited time fighting with the software to achieve the most menial of tasks.
I understand there's always a learning curve involved when picking up a new piece of software, I'm not afraid of that. But different packages will have different curve steepnesses...
Don't care if it's commercial or open source software.
I've been reading about Mathematica, Maple, Matlab and something called Sage. Looks like these are the main players in this market.
Any opinions on which software should I invest in to help me with my studies? Again, mostly to visualize and understand Maths. No need for anything more elaborate for now, although no problem if the potential for growth is already there.