[SciPy-user] One step closer to a scipy matlab/mathematica/mathcad replacement?

lanceboyle@bluebottle.com lanceboyle at bluebottle.com
Tue Nov 8 03:51:58 CST 2005

This would be a way noble project. Didn't someone else just post here  
a few days ago about combining a symbolic package and TeX with  
Python? If that wasn't you, are you guys communicating?

The Matlab symbolics module is Maple, apparently Maple 8. (Maple  
itself is currently at v10). www.maplesoft.com

A more appropriate (IMO) target is Maple itself, since it (I suppose)  
more elegantly integrates symbolics, numerics, and document  
preparation into a single, _very_ deep program. And its programming  
language is more like a real language than Matlab's pathos. (All  
these remarks by a Maple newbie.) But the sadness of Maple is that it  
now runs its cross-platform interface on Java. As as Mac human  
interface Nazis, that's bad news to me. But Maple is an awesome  
program and in terms of its current interface (Java warts  
notwithstanding) it makes Mathematica look like 1986 (which it is) in  
terms of interface.

There are two programs that bear attention from someone making  
progress in this area. Both are real, "grown-up" programs, both have  
been around since the late 1980s, both are still available and  
actively marketed, both are very reasonably priced, and both have  
fully-functioning demos, I think.

LiveMath Maker was formerly known as Theorist. Its interface lets you  
drag parts of expressions around and does all the symbolics and  
plotting that most people could want. For some odd reason it is  
marketed as a tool for high school and college students, but I've  
used it for years for some very extensive stuff. www.livemath.com  
This company also makes a killer equation setter that for 15 years  
has made most others look like pikers. Their programs are a little  
rusty around the edges (no Quartz drawing for Macintosh LiveMath  
Maker, for example).

The other program is Igor Pro www.wavemetrics.com. It is strictly  
numeric but has a stunningly capable interface for organizing huge  
projects and manipulating data as well as document production.

I would love to see the best features of Maple, LiveMath Maker, and  
Igor Pro combined into one coherent package with Python  
underpinnings. It seems like all of the pieces are already available  
as open source and are awaiting someone to take on the large task of  
making them play together. BTW, what is the state of affairs on Chaco?


On Nov 5, 2005, at 9:58 PM, Brendan Simons wrote:

> Just came across this project to add symbolic processing to python,
> for anyone interested:
> http://swiginac.berlios.de/
> One day I hope to have the skills to put Ginac, Scipy, iPython, and
> matplotlib together into a viable matlab replacement.
>    Brendan

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