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A student of mine has cooked up a new graphical notation for computing with knots on surfaces. The trouble is, writing up his results is difficult due to his new notation. Is there a good "drawing tool" for mathematics that anyone can suggest?

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It is not clear from your question, whether you're asking about software suitable for pictures and diagrams use in mathematics in general, or whether you're particularly interested in something suitable for knot theory. If it is the alter, then perhaps this question might be interesting for you:… – Martin Sleziak May 3 '12 at 4:10
I'm interested in both. Thanks for the comment, Martin! – Jon Bannon May 23 '12 at 1:40


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Inkscape is a good open source drawing package, and it integrates with LaTeX.

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GeoGebra is nice tool that worth. I recomend using it.

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On unix or Mac environments try xfig. There are windows simulators. Picture environments can be used with LaTeX to draw, but they are a pain (we used this in "The Classical and Quantum 6j symbols"). We used xfig for both "Knotted Surfaces and Their Diagrams" and "Surfaces in 4-Space." Otherwise, get a good set of Rapidograph pens, some blue pencil, and lots of white-out.

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I strongly recommend you check out ipe instead of Xfig. The interface is a bit different, but just as easy. The main advantage is its integration with LaTeX. A second advantage is its ability to snap to intersections or other constructs. – yasmar Oct 2 '10 at 19:12

I like to use the TikZ package in laTeX. It has a bit of a learning curve, but I like the fact that you don't have to call external graphics files when you compile the laTeX code. I used to use (and sometimes still use) Adobe Illustrator to create pdf files to incorporate into the tex code via an \includegraphics command.

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LaTeX is a good way to write all mathematical formulas and graphical notations.

It is a lot more than that, but personnaly, I use it frequently only for that.

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There is also something called as TeXmacs which you might be interested in. As Xavier quote LaTeX is the best way to start.

In case you are in need of a drawing package i list the following 3 packages which are commonly used:

  • pstricks

  • PgfTikZ

  • Gnuplot

Please google the names and you shall find lot of interesting things.

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I often use both LaTeX and GeoGebra. They are my favourites these days...

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