Perhaps you're one of those people who get suspicious when the word "free" and something of value-- lunch, say--are used in the same sentence. Well, then you might be as pleasantly surprised as i was to discover Antonio's posting about free math programs over at the Math Blog. They are:
- Maxima, an open source, general purpose CAS (Computer Algebra System) program "that’s able to perform symbolic manipulation for the resolution of common problems." The 3D plot illustrated here was generated by Maxima.
- Scilab, a numerical computing tool that stands out as the best among currently available clones and alternatives to the much more expensive Mathlab.
- R is a programming language and environment for statistical computing and analysis. It "enables you to do pretty much anything that the commercial software (S-Plus) does.
In a thoughtful follow-up posting on the Math Blog (June 4), Antonio offers practical guidance on the use of Maxima for those who may not be acquainted with CAS software. In his own words:
Maxima may appear very complicated and difficult to use, even for the resolution of simple high school or calculus problems. This doesn’t have to be the case though, Maxima is very friendly and this 10 minute tutorial will get you started right away.
Great job, Antonio!