Macsyma 2.0

DN Staff

April 24, 1995

4 Min Read
Macsyma 2.0

Macsyma 2.0 has been enhanced in three major areas - User Interface, Matrices, and Graphics. Its Help system is structured in two ways - by command or by function. The former has hypertext type descriptions of nearly 2,000 commands; the latter contains all Macsyma's capabilities organized by menu.

Notebook documents. Macsyma's Front End (MFE) is a new menu system to help you make crisp documents and connect to Macsyma's number crunching engine. The new notebook approach lets the user organize math operations by inserting text and graphics into the document. Macsyma's notebook appears as a regular spiral bound book. Input and output is done in the same way as before: on the C-ommand line you type the expression to be analyzed and Macsyma responds with the answer on the Display line with the same number.

The notebook may consist of several combinations of C & D lines in sequence. To save time and avoid errors, you can reference a previous calculation by simply referring to its sequential number. As the document gets longer, you can select certain inputs, outputs, or graphics for review by having Macsyma's front end interface highlight any one with the Navigate tool.

With the added text between the input and output you can make whole sections that are clearly defined and labeled like chapters. The Navigator can take you to any section of your notebook based on the "table of contents' you build, or to the exact input or output line. It can also list all inputs or outputs at once to eliminate scrolling. If you open more than one notebook at a time, it combines all inputs or outputs and displays them for easier searching and comparison.

Version 2.0 lets you take models developed with previous versions of Macsyma and have them as a notebook or batch file. Converting an old model to the notebook format is as easy as typing "make_notebook (filename)'. The notebooks in Macsyma are re-executable. Once you make changes to a parameter and invoke the Re-execute command, the whole notebook is recalculated and all graphics are updated.

Capabilities. Macsyma has more linear algebra commands and numerical analysis utilities than most products I've seen. Enhancements include 180 new commands for matrix operations that are approached symbolically and/or numerically.

The matrix toolbox includes commands for Matlab users also. Only the matrix related commands of Matlab 3.0 are compatible and supported by Macsyma. You can import directly, translate Matlab functions into files, or interactively type Matlab commands while in Macsyma.

The numerical side has also been enhanced with the addition of numerical integration modules, data fitting routines for multivariable least square curve fits, and relatively simplistic routines on uni- or multi-variate statistics. The symbolic integration side can now handle integrals with error functions, elliptic integrals, or incomplete gamma integrals. Macsyma's 30 methods for first- and second-order differential equations have increased with the addition of routines for stiff systems of ordinary differential equations.

Graphics. With Macsyma's graphics engine, once you point to a graphic in the notebook, 11 new icons for editing, animation playing, and exporting of your graphics are attached to the existing menu system. An object-oriented graphics viewer offers you crisp graphs in 2, 3, or 4 dimensions. The 4th dimension is the time that is exploited with the animation tool. Up to 200 editable attributes can be accessed to adjust the graphics output.

With enhancements in its graphics and user interface, this powerful tool promotes mathematical thinking and knowledge in the hands of either a novice or an experienced user.

Spec Box

Macsyma 2.0
Macsyma is an integrated tool for symbolic and mathematical manipulations of problems in the engineering and scientific disciplines in the Windows environment. The program requires a 386 or better PC with 8M bytes of RAM, 18M bytes of hard disk space, and up to 20M bytes for swap file.

List Price: $349

Macsyma, Inc., 20 Academy St., Arlington, MA 02174, Phone: (617) 646-4550; Fax: (617) 646-3161.

A similar product:

Mathematica - Wolfram Research Inc, 100 Trade Center Dr., Champaign, IL 61820; ph: (217) 398-0700.

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