back to article Mathematica hits the Web

Wolfram wants to broaden the appeal of its Mathematica product, adding a fully-online version to the existing standalone software applications. Announcing the online version in this blog post, Stephen Wolfram says it's a zero-configuration browse-and-login version of the product that replicates most of the features of the …

  1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

    Or run it for free...

    ...but slowly on a Raspberry Pi.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If there is one subject one might have expected there to be a good free and open source application it is Mathematics.

    Instead we have Mathematica and other very expensive packages like Mathlab, that way ensuring modern computer treatments of mathematics are hidden well away from 99% of the people and businesses that might benefit.

    I'm not arguing its somehow wrong for Wolfram to charge what their market can support just bemoaning the fact that open source has not delivered much in the way of 'Mathematics for the masses' and the potential of access to many mathematical tools for science and technology is hidden away in the tiny golden-walled garden of Mathematica.

    [I am aware of 'SageMath' project but any software setup that first asks a user to install VirtualBox is a long way away from real world believability, and anyway its a mishmash nothing like Mathematica or Mathlab].

    1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge
      Thumb Up


      For stats can I recommend R. A great tool - with lots of additional packages. While I use Mathematica every day, I find R the place to go for my stats work

    2. Benchops

      Open source maths packages

      It's been a long time since I was actively researching maths, but even then there was (and still is) a fantastically fast number-theory based CLI environment called PARI/GP (sudo apt-get install pari-gp) and a massively comprehensive algebra package called GAP [Groups Algorithms and Programming] (sudo apt-get install gap) . Both still being actively developed.

      They didn't have the GUI or comprehensive coverage that Mathematica or Maple had then but they covered their own fields pretty damn well. I daresay there are other packages for other areas of maths.

      Having said that, not really very school-pupil friendly unless you're already a programmer.

      I guess the problem, in the field of pure maths at least, is that once it is known a solution exists the researcher loses interest in actually finding it, so once there's a CLI, they lose interest in actually building a GUI on top (that's just /bookwork/)! ;)

      1. John Gamble

        Re: Open source maths packages

        And SAGE, which incorporates many existing packages with a python interface.

        They even say on their main page, "Mission: Creating a viable free open source alternative to Magma, Maple, Mathematica and Matlab."

    3. Paul Kinsler

      Re: (Matlab)

      I find Scilab a perfectly good (and free) replacement for Matlab

    4. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      What about Octave?

      A high level of language compatibility with Matlab, and there's even a GUI for it now.

      Though personally, I'd just do it in Fortran...

    5. jpb421


      Things started well with Reduce and I think Maple was initially a free package (though I may be wrong on that) but I agree that there has not been much progress in the last 20 years.

    6. GrumpenKraut Silver badge


      A strong point of Sage is that it's programming language is python, not another bad ad hoc language.

      Develepment is very active; documentation ranges from good to excellent.

      It's a big piece of software, not because of bloat but because it is quite powerful.

      1. eulampios

        Re: Sage

        Python is cool, however the many ad-hoc CAS languages are not bad.yet quite simple, it was a piece of cake to learn Pari-gp for me, for example. The names of the programming operators most probably will be the same anyways. Pari-gp for that matter also exists as a C library and is "ported" to many languages, including Python, Perl, Java etc ( I use Math::Pari module myself) . There is also the GSL libraries for the most popular languages as well... (Yes, I know that the word "libraries" is redundant there)

        1. LionelB

          Re: Sage

          Indeed. I use Matlab extensively in my day-to-day work (research in computational neuroscience) and while it may well be "bad" in any number of senses (e.g. their bolt-on attempt at OO is horrendous), it is nonetheless fabulously flexible and easily refactorable, which is exactly what you want from a research perspective. Maybe best think of it as a scriptable wrapper for Fortran...

          My language of choice would probably be Python, but although it is gaining ground in my field, Matlab, unfortunately, remains a de-facto standard.

          Aside: I once went for a job interview which included a programming test in R, which I tried to learn in a week. I rather liked R, which seemed extremely flexible, powerful and well thought out, but the learning curve was precipitous to say the least... I never got the job (and as it happened the company folded within months).

    7. eulampios


      >>..just bemoaning the fact that open source has not delivered much in the way of 'Mathematics for the masses' and the potential of access to many mathematical tools...

      You don't seem to be familiar with the subject then. Don't bemoan this, please. There are more than a few of free CAS out there. Some of them are not as generalist systems as Mathematica, but sure excel it in their "little" areas, like GAP in general group theory, Pari-gp in algebraic number theory or R in statistics. All of those are GPL, btw. There is also Maxima, Octave, Axiom, Ycas and more. I particularly like the quite capable and nice Emacs Calc. Sometimes the good ol' small RPN'ish dc can be just enough..

      BTW, many of the free CAS are ported to Android already and work pretty damn well there. Pari-gp and even lisp-based Maxima are on Google play. The latter can do everything on the phone what it does on a PC box., (a bit) slower though, I suppose.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I must be getting old..

    .. wondering what took Metallica that long.

    Never mind. Pass me that blanket so I can back to sleep.

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