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Open source or free alternatives to MathCad

  1. Jan 3, 2008 #1
    I am just using MathCad as an example, as I don't know others. In college I did use something that did good 3D plots, and solved differential equations and performed integration.

    I was wondering if there were free or low-cost alternatives to these expensive programs. I just need something that can give me a solution to check my work against.

    I tend to have a problem of knowing when to stop deriving. I'll work on a problem, and wonder if I really have the solution.

    Since I don't have $100's to purchase something that probably does way more than I need, I'm wondering what other software will be suitable.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 3, 2008 #2


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    There's a GNU "version" of Matlab called Octave that is used in universities. Most of the commands and syntax are the same.
  4. Jan 3, 2008 #3
    Thanks. Can you also recommend a good GUI for Octave? I'm on a Windows system. I have Windows XP x64 and Windows Vista, on two separate systems.

    But I'll probably use my Windows x64 desktop because it's more powerful.
  5. Mar 23, 2010 #4
    Its just a front end, GNU Octave must be installed. It is available for Windows and it is pretty slick.
  6. Mar 24, 2010 #5


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    I just looked at the MathCad web page - it was clearly designed by business/marketing types so I do not know all the capabilities of mathcad.

    for the numeric stuff, Octave mentioned above is great. Doesn't have beautiful plots but they are functional ...

    If you do symbolic integration or other symbolic work, I would recommend gnu maxima. It also does arbitrary precision arithmetic if you are ever interested.

  7. Mar 24, 2010 #6


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    wxmaxima provides a very nice front-end to maxima.
    note that sage will integrate with latex very easily (3d graphing is a bit weak, however)
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