Mathematica touch/intuitive input frontend

1. Jun 11, 2009

quelarion

hello everyone,
as a theoretical PhD student I came up (I'm sure I'm not the first ;) ) with an idea.

Many times for our work we spend a lot of time just rearranging or making substitutions in quite long equations (I think about the Virasoro algebra in this very moment :D ), something that is just mechanical and tedious, and most of all its RISKY, because we (maybe just me! :) ) end up forgetting on sign or some exponent, wasting hours.

At the same time Mathematica is quite fast doing this, but needs a lot of assumptions and many times to type a complicated expression takes so long that its not worth it.

But what if we have a tablet pc, or a similar input device.

First we could write an equation very quickly, without ctrl+_ and stuff. It would be pretty direct to build up a set of macros relating symbols to mathematica inputs.
Then if we want to rearrange terms, we could just select every piece with the pen, drawing a circle or tapping on the bracket around it, and dragging it to a new line.
Then we could do a substitution, just by writing down the definition a=b somewhere, selecting it and dragging it on the equation to simplify.
To eliminate a term one could just draw a line on it, erasing it on the fly.

Mathematica would do just the "mechanical" calculations, so that it would not need lenghty and sometimes ignored assumptions.
The notebook would be "clean", being just our input, with the real code "hidden".
For sure the usual mathematica input method is way more powerful, but for the "small" purpose of *stupid* calculations this thing can be very helpful.

Has anyone an idea on how one could implement this? My programming skills are imaginary :D
What else one could do with that?

Actually I think that such a thing could speed up my work by 20% at least :D
No paper to waste, no cancellations on the sheets, which are annoying and dangerous...

I want it!

2. Jun 11, 2009

chroot

Staff Emeritus
It would indeed by a dream come true for many mathematicians and physicists -- it'd be an intelligent chalkboard, which never makes algebraic mistakes, simplifies expressions as you go, etc.

It would be pretty difficult to code, really. Just translating gestures to symbols is a pretty amazingly difficult problem. If your programming skills are non-existent, this is probably not a project you should tackle.

- Warren

3. Jun 11, 2009

quelarion

Well, actually there are not many gestures to include... I mean, all the inputs are quite simple, its just some sort of Palm "Graffiti". Even for Windows there is a freeware that allows to define custom gestures and associate text to them (maybe just single characters, but its the same).
As for mathematica code, like \Simplify and so on, maybe its more difficult, but since one doesn't need a lot of commands, just replace, solve and this simple algebraic things, it should not be so huge and difficult... but anyway I dont know.

And sure, I was not thinking to do that actually, but maybe someone could be interested and capable :D Anyway, i take a look to this freeware :D If its opensource it can be a good starting point!

4. Jun 12, 2009

chroot

Staff Emeritus
Mathematics gestures are actually much more difficult to translate into symbols than those of english text. The symbols can be different sizes relative to each other, occur in all sorts of weird one-over-the-other forms, etc.

By the way, MathCAD already works as a sort of "virtual notebook" and is quite good. It doesn't do gesture translation, but it does a lot of the things you seem to want a mathematics program to do.

- Warren