Special Programme in Science (SPS)

Software for Scientists

The use of computational tools in science has become ubiquitous, and essential. From simple tasks of visualising (e.g. plotting experimental data) to creating sophisticated mathematical models (e.g. blackhole simulation in ‘Interstellar’) computational tools are propelling scientific research. It is therefore imperative that members of SPS be trained in using computers for science. To this end two software, Mathematica and Python are introduced to all new SPS students during their first two semesters (as part of SP2171 Discovering Science). In addition, the use of these (and other) software is incorporated into the thematic modules (Atoms to Molecules, The Cell, The Earth, The Universe) of the Integrated Science Curriculum.


Mathematica is a powerful (commercial) software that is able to perform symbolic mathematics and also supports animated graphics, an interactive user-interface without requiring much configuration, making it an excellent and visually engaging pedagogical tool. NUS provides all students of the Faculty of Science a FREE licensed copy of Mathematica (available for PC, Mac or Linux users) throughout their candidature. Please follow the instructions given here to get your copy installed.

Here is an example (installation of CDF Player or Mathematica required):

Polyhedral Koalas from the Wolfram Demonstrations Project by Catherine Wolfram

And, of course, it’s pretty cool! These people say so:


Python is a powerful (non-commercial) software that is immensely popular amongst the science research community. The fact that Python is open-source (hence free) allows students to use the software skills acquired in SPS even after they progress beyond NUS.