Numerical Mathematics in the Wolfram Language
One of the important features of the Wolfram Language is its ability to give you exact, symbolic results for computations. There are, however, computations where it is just mathematically impossible to get exact "closed form" results. In such cases, you can still often get approximate numerical results.
When the Wolfram Language cannot find an explicit result for something like a definite integral, it returns a symbolic form. You can take this symbolic form and try to get an approximate numerical value by applying N.
If you want to evaluate an integral numerically in the Wolfram Language, then using Integrate and applying N to the result is not the most efficient way to do it. It is better instead to use the function NIntegrate, which immediately gives a numerical answer, without first trying to get an exact symbolic result. You should realize that even when Integrate does not in the end manage to give you an exact result, it may spend a lot of time trying to do so.
|Solve||NSolve||solutions of algebraic equations|
|DSolve||NDSolve||solutions of differential equations|