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There isn't any progression through the book, simply "this is roughly how to use this functionality", which I didn't feel was particularly helpful (the SymPy documentation is a better reference for this).
25% of the book is simply describing how to install & setup Python/iPython... The next quarter goes through creating a curve, with not much description of what you're doing and seems a bit disjointed. The final half is basically shortened versions of the SymPy documentation; covering expressions, evaluation, calculus, solving equations.
I wouldn't recommend this book, the knowledge or cohesion of SymPy gleaned from it is minimal assuming you've looked at the SymPy documentation and are relatively familiar with Python.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
As the name implies, this book is really short introduction to SymPy, and intended to get someone started. It starts by describing the installation procedures on various operating systems and also mentioning the live shell which can be used to get a taste of SymPy without any installation. Then, the author introduces a curve sketching problem and uses it as a means to introduce various features of SymPy.
After that, the author describes some of the SymPy features as outlined in the table of contents.
Summary and my thoughts
I am not very clear about the purpose the book is aimed to serve other than making readers aware of SymPy. It is neither an exhaustive introduction to SymPy nor is it a collection of "recipes".
In my opinion, the official tutorial is good to get started with and the documentation is detailed and exhaustive for getting started with and learning all about SymPy.
Since the book is from Instant series, it is not a thick one, only around 50 pages and it does not aim to teach each and every feature of the SymPy to the reader. Instead of that, 5 common features were chosen to be covered in the book. These features are: creating and manipulating expressions, numerical evaluation, calculus and solving equations. In addition to that there are instructions for installing SymPy and various other tools that could be useful and a quick example on curve sketching.
Each section contains clear examples that teach how to for example simplify symbolic expressions or calculate limits. The mathematical reasons behind examples are not explained, but it assumed that the reader is proficient with mathematics. I liked the decision since it kept the book short and compact and there are plenty of resources for mathematics elsewhere.
In the end of the book there is some resources for further study, like articles, tutorials, mailing lists and blogs.
The book is good purchase for a person who has not used SymPy before and wants to quickly get started with the basics. The same information can be found from internet of course, but in the book it has been laid out in a nice format and explained in such a way that the reader does not get sidetracked with unnecessary details.