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Maxima and wxMaxima, free software for maths

Maxima is a computer algebra system that manipulate symbolic and numerical expressions such as differentiation, integration, systems of linear equations, vectors, matrices etc.
Palmira Ronchi, an Italian maths teacher enlightens you about this software.

Can you tell me more about Maxima?
- Maxima, a computer algebra system, produces high precision results by using exact fractions and arbitrarily long floating point representations. The software can also plot functions and data in 2D and 3D.
Regarding technical aspects, the Maxima source code can be compiled on many systems, including Windows and Linux.
- A very interesting related project is wxMaxima release (0.7.0a). It provides a graphical user interface for Maxima, with easy access to functions throught menus and a browsable help. Features such as symbolic manipulation of polynomials, rational functions, matrices, integration and graphics are as easy as point and click.

Who might be interested in Maxima?
Students and teachers can be interested.

How to use Maxima: an example
To define a function in Maxima you use the := operator.  E.g. f(x,y) := 2^(x2-y2); defines a function `f'.

In this picture, you can see the 3Dgraph of the function f.

Where can I find more information about MAXIMA?
- The source code for all systems and precompiled binaries for Windows and Linux are available here.
The last version, Maxima 5.10.0, was released on 20 September 2006. The SourceForge file manager has source and binary files, including a self-contained Windows installer. Maxima is constantly updated, to fix bugs and improve the code and the documentation. You can search for help and discuss about the programme via the Maxima mailing list

- Another way to find more information about the software is to use the Xplora DVD (Xplora Knoppix), based on the Linux Debian distribution and completely contained on a self-booting DVD. This Knoppix version allow you to work in Linux OS without installing it on your PC.
The DVD, which includes many open source softwares, can be given for free or copied.  (You can read more).

- You can get further details about the Maxima software, manuals, guides and didactic materials here:

Introduction to Maxima by Richard Rand (PDF)
The Computer Algebra Program Maxima by Boris Gaertner
(Entire tutorial in one file: gaertner-tutorial-revision.zip)
Micro introduction into Maxima at Harvard UK
Minimal Maxima by Robert Dodier (PDF) 
Document generated by Joshua David Goldstein on December, 6 2005
A Minimanual to study maths functions by Palmira Ronchi in the Xplora repository 
Finally, you can get more details about the wxMaxima software (free to download from here), and didactic materials concerning both Maxima and Wxmaxima by  Johann Weilharter.

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