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CASs vs. octave numerics (was: Re: Symbolic expand function doesn't alwa

From: John W. Eaton
Subject: CASs vs. octave numerics (was: Re: Symbolic expand function doesn't always do anything)
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 15:37:11 -0400

On 14-Sep-2004, Jonathan Stickel <address@hidden> wrote:

| edA-qa mort-ora-y wrote:
| > I must admit though, I truly don't understand why there is a separation 
| > between tools such as Octave and Maxima.  Why would I choose to use one 
| > over the other?
| I've been troubled by this as well.  For the most part, though, I use a 
| CAS to arrive at formulas which I then use for numerical calculations. 
| I'd love to see an example where one interfaces symbolic manipulation 
| with numerical methods, but from my experience they are often completely 
| separate.

In case it is not already obvious, writing something like Octave or
Maxima is a big job.  Probably the people who work on Octave are
primarily interested in numerics, and those who work on Maxima are
primarily interested in symbolic manipulation.

My experience was that when I started working on Octave in 1992, I saw
the job of doing a numerically oriented language is being hard
enough.  I did not know enough about symbolic manipulation to even see
how to make it possible for Octave to do that and numerics.  If I knew
then what I know now, maybe I would have done things differently.

OTOH, the existence of the "sym" data type in octave-forge shows that
it might not be too difficult for Octave to support symbolic
manipulation in a relatively clean way.

Since Maxima is free software, I don't know that it makes sense to try
to duplicate the capabilities of Maxima in Octave.  It would probably
be better to make it possible to use Maxima within Octave, either by
sending and receiving data to a separate Maxima process, or by
modifying Maxima so that it can be embedded in Octave.


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