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I'm an undergrad. maths student and have been looking at a few different free maths programs (mainly CAS systems, I've been very impressed with Octave as a MATLAB clone.) I've been tossing up between learning to use Maxima (the logical, stable, powerful, widespread option) and Sympy (the newer, less comprehensive option but which is written in Python (which for me is a big plus :) )). My question is: if anyone out there has any experience with Sympy or Maxima, what would you recomend? Is sympy comprehensive/powerful enough to handle most of the undergraduate maths that Maxima can? Would it be wiser/more beneficial in the long run if I taught myself how to use the more widespread maxima? And ofcourse, does anyone else have any other recomended CAS systems?


BTW, I'm afraid, to my eternal shame, I'm pretty much a Windows-only user, in case there are any SAGE-evangelists out there :D

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I was going to suggest Sage! It can work under Cygwin. Or, it can be used online as well – Juan S May 6 '11 at 12:03
Oh, can it work under Cygwin? I shall check this out! Thanks, I was under the impression you had to use VMWare, which I found really quite inconvenient compared to just opening something from the taskbar, but maybe I'm just fussy :D – tom May 6 '11 at 13:33
@Qwirk, sorry to annoy you again, I've just been looking online for guides to install Sage with Cygwin. When I ran Sage through VMWare I found it laggy and inconvenient using the virtual desktop. Before (re)commiting to another install, I would love to know how easy Sage is to use with cygwin. After installing can you just open the Sage Cygwin application and then open Sage in your windows browser? I only ask because 90% of my use atm tends to be quick plots or calculations, so a long boot-up time is extremely offputting. Thanks again! – tom May 6 '11 at 14:40
sorry I can't help - I do run it through Linux – Juan S May 8 '11 at 10:47
up vote 11 down vote accepted

(I am the lead developer of SymPy)

I would recommend SymPy because it is in Python, which you will find is indeed a real plus. Also, in the past few years it's grown to be a very powerful computer algebra system, with some very fast, powerful, and nontrivial algorithms implemented. Also, in my experience, Maxima is slow (slower than both SymPy and most other alternatives as well).

Also, we have a great community if you need help :)

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I recommand this online CAS calculator:

click on calculator image to access. No download/install!

it does algebra, trig, matrix, calculus. it is also a gaphing calculator.

this calculator is maxima based but can also use maple and mathematica as its CAS engine.

have fun!

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