View Full Version : Favorite Computer Algebra Packages?

2005-Nov-15, 04:20 AM
Has anyone else here used such software?

I myself have used
Maxima (http://maxima.sourceforge.net)
Mathematica (http://www.wolfram.com/)

though not
Maple (http://www.maplesoft.com/)
MuPAD (http://www.mupad.de/)
REDUCE (http://www.reduce-algebra.com/)
Derive (http://www.chartwellyorke.com/derive.html)

The likes of
Matlab (http://www.mathworks.com/)
Octave (http://www.octave.org/)
etc. I consider only part of the way there, because they are purely numerical.

I've used both Maxima and Mathematica for a long time, though Maxima in the form of its earlier incarnation as DOE Macsyma. Between the two, I think I prefer Mathematica, because of its greater variety of features and more elegant design, but Mathematica is very pricey, and I am currently using version 3.0 instead of 5.2, which I have to run in Mac Classic in OSX. Maxima, however, produces less Sticker Shock, because it is open-source and a free download.

2005-Nov-15, 05:05 AM
Matlab is capable of symbolic manipulation if you want to, although that is not its primary purpose. It is pretty much the standard mathematics software for biomedical engineering. I have personally used Maple as well as Matlab (technically the symbolic manipulation component of MatLab is Maple, Maple has been programmed into MatLab). However, I generally just stick to my handy TI-89 for symbolic manipulation and use Matlab for matrix and data analysis. Once you learn how to do it, the TI-89 can do symbolic algebra, simultaneous equation solving, symbolic circular and hyperbolic trig, symbolic calculus I and II, symbolic complex calculus, and symbolic polynomial vectors and matrices, 2D, 3D, parametric, polar, sequence, and differential equation plots, as well as many other things. This is ignoring many add-on packages and downloadable software. I currently have a software package on mine that does 1D and 2D signal processing, including DFT, FFT, iDFT, iFFT, correlation, convolution, and various filters and windowing functions. Its slow as mollases but can get the job done on small vectors and matrices in a reasonable amount of time.

2005-Nov-15, 07:30 AM
standard for dsp/comm, too.


2005-Nov-15, 11:48 AM
I used matlab in uni. It can do the symbolic stuff as has been pointed out but from what i remember it wasnt wildly quick at it.

2005-Nov-15, 06:54 PM
I've used Maple a lot. It's nice because it is very easy to learn. It's the standard software for math labs in a lot of the universities around here. On the down side, it is extremely slow at performing complex tasks or purely numerical things. I have no idea how it compares to other packages, but I don't use it except for solving integrals or finding formulae for summations when I am too lazy to do it by hand.

I'm going to try out Maxima. It will be nice to have something I can run on my own machine, rather than having to connect to a university computer to run Maple there. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

2005-Nov-15, 07:21 PM
You could always just buy Maple. The student version is about $150 if I remember correctly.

2005-Nov-15, 10:58 PM
Yes, but I am poor. $150 is I'm also unwilling to pirate a copy.

Maxima is actually pretty nice. It's not as polished as Maple, but that's to be expected. I like the wide variety of libraries. I haven't yet figured out if it has arbitrary precision routines, but all in all I'm impressed. The support for groups is pretty cool, and the pattern matching stuff is neat, too. I understand that the latest version of Maple stores units along with values, which I haven't seen in Maxima... but then again, I'd probably never use Maple for physics calculations anyway. Maybe for testing against my code... but I digress.

I like how the symmetry documentation is in French, too. :)

The primep() function is a bit inefficient... Maple's isprime() seems to do a test for Mersenne-ness for 2^x - 1 forms, and other simple tests for other large numbers, but it looks like Maxima just crunches through with a sieve, eventually running out of stack space.

That aside, it does everything I expect from such a program. Two thumbs up for Maxima!

2005-Nov-18, 10:45 AM
There is also MathCad, which I've used a bit and is quite nice in that you place equations as you'd write them on a bit of paper. Used it for filter characteristics, and parasitic capacitance losses.