
#1
Sep2808, 11:20 PM

P: 4

I'm currently taking a college algebra course. I have been using matlab to check answers to problems not given in the back of the book. Although I respect the power and flexibility of the program, I've found the interface to be time consuming and errorprone. Can anyone recommend a program capable of symbolic math with an easier to use interface?
Difficulty: must run on *nix and be opensource or easily thievable. 



#2
Sep2908, 12:06 AM

P: 252

Mathematica is perfect but it is VERY expensive.




#3
Sep2908, 12:07 AM

P: 290

Maple rules!!
Actually, I have to say that, as my job involves Maple development. But actually, it's a great program  find a copy, even Maple 11 is fine  go to the classic worksheet. Then at the prompt you can read about the commands by typing a ? with a topic or command name, i.e. > ?DifferentialGeometry and it will bring up the help files. The commands might seem crazy at first, but if you go through the tutorial, you'll have it all in your head in no time. It took me 2 months to become proficient enough not just to use Maple, but to write code for new Maple commands. :) And I think it is a far more powerful tool for symbolic features, while Matlab tends to do well with very large sets of data that need number crunching. Let's see, for college algebra, Maple can factor and find roots of polynomials, simplify expressions, you can check if lhs of equation = rhs, the list just goes on and on! 



#4
Sep2908, 12:08 AM

P: 290

Alternative to matlab
I forgot to add: your university might have a copy that you can use. Our openaccess computer labs all have Maple, and our CS department has a Maple disk that they'll loan for you to take home and put on your personal computer. So as long as you're a student, you can use the software for free, at some universities.




#5
Sep2908, 02:48 AM

P: 4

Thank you both. maple seems to be perfectly suited to my needs. I'll go see if my computer lab has a copy tomorrow.




#6
Sep2908, 03:29 AM

Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
P: 6,238

That said, if you need *free* alternatives, there are matlablike free suites, like Scilab (I like it), or Octave for numerical work, and there are free CAS systems like maxima if you need symbolic manipulation. They are not as userfriendly and powerful as matlab, mathematica or maple, but they are free, and run as well under linux as windows and mac.



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