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Maxima, a Computer Algebra System
Submitted by Nick Hershman on 2008-04-06
Dear reader, if you teach a branch dealing with algebra and you do not already use a computer algebra system, get your hands on one. I am in the middle of grading quizzes that involve simplifying long expressions. Although I trust my work, it's nice to have a second check. I did some searching and found a great, free, open source package named "Maxima." Maxima can simplify, solve, integrate, graph, and manage anything I think I could ever hope to through into it and more. If you are interested in downloading it or learning how to use it you will find helpful resources. I just wanted to simplify the expression:
-x + y - 3 - 2 - [2x - 4(5x - y)] - 2x + x
Maxima quickly added the correct command:
ratsimp(-x + y - 3 - 2 - [2x - 4(5x - y)] - 2x + x);
and produced the result:
[-3y + 16x - 5]
on the next line.
Instantly, I became a fan.