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Open-source web-based graphing calculator?

  1. Sep 10, 2015 #1

    bcrowell

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    I'm teaching first-semester calculus right now, and I'm noticing that a lot of my students are using the online graphing calculator at desmos.com. (I think this sort of thing is like nuclear power, it can be used for good or for evil.) I played with the desmos app, and although it seems nice in some ways (human-like math notation, ease of use), in others it doesn't seem that great (e.g., you can't independently adjust the x and y scales, which makes it useless for some functions).

    I also feel that like is too short to waste time with proprietary software, so I spent some time trying to figure out whether or not desmos is open-source, and I couldn't find any info. (There appears to be a project of that name on github, but the README is uninformative, and I can't even tell easily if it's the same thing as the web-based calculator.)

    I've also used something called relplot: http://www.cs.cornell.edu/w8/~andru/relplot/ . It's cool because it can handle things like implicit functions and inequalities, and it can do ps and pdf output. However, it's not really open-source. (It's only free for noncommercial use.)

    Does anyone have any comments on whether there is a free and open-source web-based graphing calculator application that is best of breed?
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 10, 2015 #2
    Click the spanner.

    Someone has clearly invested a lot of money in this, I doubt the code will be open sourced. The API is public though.
     
  4. Sep 10, 2015 #3

    bcrowell

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    Ah, I see. Thanks.

    Well, if that logic always worked, then linux wouldn't be open-source, because millions of dollars have been invested in it. Anyway, I'm only interested in the open-source possibilities, so if desmos isn't open-source but there is something open-source and not quite as slick, the latter is what I'm looking for.
     
  5. Sep 10, 2015 #4
    The millions of dollars have been invested since the first open source publication of the linux kernel, which Linus Torvalds wrote as a hobby with an investment of approximately FIM0.
     
  6. Sep 10, 2015 #5

    jedishrfu

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    Another option for your students is the FreeMat app that runs directly on your machine. It has many core features of MATLAB and can dynamically generate and scale plots automatically.

    A heftier solution would be to go with Julia and use the Anaconda distribution which is a web-based notebook page format i.e. you enter some code in a textbook and then it shows the output and allows you to either reedit or enter more code on the a succeeding textbook. Prof Dave Sanders has a tutorial on Julia using the Notebook style for teaching:

     
  7. Sep 12, 2015 #6

    bcrowell

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    @jedishrfu: Thanks for the info about FreeMat, although what I had more in mind was browser-based software.

    I've fiddled with julia and got a very negative impression of the quality of its implementation, which has scared me off.
     
  8. Sep 13, 2015 #7
    You could mash something up from an expression parser and a chart plotter, math.js is pretty good for the former, I've only used flot charting which is OK but there are now lots of alternatives that look good.
     
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