Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Mathematica vs. Other Math Apps

  1. Mar 2, 2014 #1
    I have been using Maxima to help me review to go back to grad school for physics. I think I might be running to the limits of its functionality (or maybe I just don't know how to use it correctly). I used to have a lot of experience with Mathematica, but their license system has grown to be oppressive. What are some other options for powerful analytic math programs that are comparable to Mathematica, or is Mathematica so much better it is worth the abuse.

    Chris Maness
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 2, 2014 #2

    Simon Bridge

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    There is a gnu-octave app - it is more basic than Mathematica, mainly in the UI.
    ... this is what I use.

    Sage is more gui-ish, combining many OSS and FS programs -("sage-math" on google play I think)
    ... never used it.

    There's a bunch of others.
    Desktop versions are in repos for most versions of GNU/Linux.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014
  4. Mar 2, 2014 #3

    D H

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Octave is nothing like Mathematica. You are perhaps thinking of Matlab, which is what octave is attempting to replicate.
  5. Mar 3, 2014 #4
    Reduce, Axiom, Maple, ...


    Mostly I think what you need is an excellent supply of well written books on the system you choose and a high quality responsive forum with people who are very skilled in figuring out why something isn't working.
  6. Mar 3, 2014 #5
    Awesome, Bill. Your comments are most helpful. I am a member of a Maxima list, but I haven't received any response to this. I probably need to find a better one. I am playing around with sage, and find that I like it. I am not sure if it can do the series I was trying.

    Chris Maness
  7. Mar 3, 2014 #6

    Simon Bridge

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Yes - GNU-Octave is designed to be a free-software replacement for Matlab and a core for other programs with the same aim but perhaps more gui-oriented and with prettier output.
    Did not mean to appear to claim that it was anything else.

    The similarities and differences have been the subject of another thread.

    And here is a comparison between octave and maxima. On a reveiw of 20 sites, it seems typical of the observations, though some posts in the physicsforums thread (prev link) extend the typical observations.

    Octave and Sage come up a lot in other forum responses to the same question with sage being touted as most similar to mathematica. When someone is most used to one, they are best to look for the most similar, appropriately licensed, replacement that otherwise suits their needs.

    Maxima uses DOE-MACSIMA
    GNU-Octave uses GiNaC and CLN for symbolic computing.
    Perhaps it would be helpful to know where Maxima fails the OP before making any firm recommendations. Meantime - found a review comparing the three names that keep coming up:
    Octave - Spyder - Maxima ... also a description of how SAGE relates to these three.

    Should be a place to start anyway.
  8. Mar 3, 2014 #7
    Thanks, Simon. I will check these articles out. I need to find a good forum for Maxima. I am a member of one, but it is a very quiet list.

  9. Mar 3, 2014 #8
    You might be careful with the answers to a question like "Is there anything better than a Chevy?" I suspect that most people with experience will not reply. But I suspect more than enough who know a little bit about one system, have never seen anything else, and will happily tell you that the one they have seen is the best one.

    Really really knowing one of these takes enough time, knowing enough about several to be able to provide qualified comparisons is much harder.
  10. Mar 3, 2014 #9
    This is true, Bill.

    I have been playing with Sage for some time today, and it seems to be doing what I want. Pretty nice actually. I used Mathematical extensively about 15 years ago. I have been using Maxima very casually the past couple of years, so I have some basis for comparison. Mathematica is more powerful, but Maxima is more intuitive (in my opinion).

    Chris Maness
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook