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One very useful approach to problem solving is to look at the problem from a
different point of view. Many scientists and engineers will agree that the meaning behind a mathematical equation is more easily seen and explained to someone else when using a good graphical representation of the function. Visualization through plotting or creating images is a great way to improve the effectiveness of teaching a wide range of scientific and engineering topics.
There are many ways to visualize mathematical equations including simple x,y graphs, mesh surfaces, bar graphs, and imaging, to name a few. Combining these visualization tools with more advanced techniques such as perspective shading can further improve understanding. One of the key advantages of these visualization techniques is to be able to look at the problem and the solution in different ways.
In this chapter, MATLAB will be used to calculate mathematical functions and plot them in different formats. The optical problem that will be considered and used throughout this chapter will be the familiar single-slit intensity pattern. The mathematical functions of interest will be used to illustrate different visualization tools and demonstrate how simple it is to use MATLAB to view equations.
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