Re: [dev] a suckless computer algebra system

From: David Tweed <>
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 2009 13:19:51 +0000

On Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 12:51 AM, Kris Maglione <> wrote:
> On Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 02:23:35PM -0600, A.J. Gardner wrote:
>> I'm interested in math and CASs, but my opinions on available software
>> are ill-formed and mostly ignorant. Does anyone else here have an
>> interest in this topic, broadly speaking? If so, do you have any
>> preferences for one package over another? Have you found any math
>> software that seem to follow the worse-is-better design model?
> Don't be silly. There's nothing like a "suckless" CAS, at least nothing
> remotely approaching the simplicity of software. Computer
> algebra and calculus are complex and computationally intensive. They can't
> (and arguably shouldn't) be simplified beyond a point.

There's a related issue: often the task you want to perform inherently
has too high a computational complexity as "generic problem" (at least
the complexity is too high if you're working on problems that tend to
come up), so you either want multiple different algorithms (or
different systems) which employ approaches which might be have
different problems they solve quickly. (For instance, the Fermat
system ( uses an algorithm that's not used
by other CAS for some polynomial manipulations, and apparently
succeeds on some problems they out-of-memory on, whilst failing on
problems that others can solve. So if you only care about acheiving
your mathematical task and not on only using "aesthetically righteous
software" you might well try both systems.). Contast this with, eg, a
typesetting system where you can have one "best" algorithm that does

I have a lot of sympathy with you on the UI front: I dislike intensely
the "programmer personal" GUI choices each CAS I've used seems to make
and in an ideal world there would be a common GUI (and syntax would be
modified for consistency where the system's semantic representation
makes it possible). But I don't think anyone (me included) actually
wants to do the work to do that.

Incidentally, one system I haven't seen mentioned so far is axiom

Not compellingly brilliant but not bad either.

cheers, dave tweed__________________________
computer vision reasearcher:
"while having code so boring anyone can maintain it, use Python." --
attempted insult seen on slashdot
Received on Fri Nov 20 2009 - 13:19:51 UTC

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