Re: Math graphics

Subject: Re: Math graphics
From: Hollister Technical Services <Holtec -at- COMITY -dot- DEMON -dot- CO -dot- UK>
Date: Sun, 28 Feb 1999 16:13:31 +0000

In message , Walter Crockett <BrufusD -at- AOL -dot- COM> writes
>I'm looking for a math graphics program, or combination of them, that would be
>good for tech writing purposes. I'd like something that can automatically
>draw, measure and label angles and shapes, etc., not to mention write
>equations and math problems. And something that could also be used by the rest
>of my family for algebra through calculus.
>I've seen Maple mentioned on this list before. Does anyone have experience
>with it? Is Geometer's Scratchpad a powerful enough program? Any advice?
>Walter Crockett
Hi Walter,

I do not know for sure but I think that you want two different things
that are: a mathematical calculations program and a draughting program.

The only draughting programs that I have come across are in the Autocad
family. The cheapest is Autosketch but I do not know whether this will
do automatic dimensioning (it ought to!). CorelDraw V8 will do auto-
dimension for line lengths and angles but is an illustration program not
able to do any mathematical calculations.

For maths I suggest Mathcad. This can be obtained with a Maple
interpreter and has a fairly intuitive WYSIWYG front end. This means
that you can type in mathematical equations and get real results (that
are dimensionally correct if that bothers you -- i.e. if you have feet
on one side of the equation Mathcad will tell you that you may not have
feet per second on the other side).

Mathcad will also do symbolic maths using Maple. The equations may be
pasted into other documents (or linked I think) and you may produce some
fairly pretty graphics though I do not think you can produce the same
sort of diagrammatic dimensioning that a draughting package can do
(horses for courses). I have used several Windows versions of Mathcad
and think that it just gets better. I believe that the current version
allows style sheets so that, if your writing is mathematically intense,
you can produce a reasonable document directly in Mathcad. I cannot say
how good the publication quality of the Mathcad output is (having used
it exclusively in engineering environments).

One caution, if you have a slow computer be prepared to wait many
minutes for Mathcad to do a difficult sum. For simple things the answers
pop up almost immediately, for big matrices (such as are used to make
'3D image' data sets) it takes longer.
Peter Jones
e-mail Holtec -at- comity -dot- demon -dot- co -dot- uk

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