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Math Software Linux

7 of the Best Free Linux Calculators 289

Posted by timothy
from the open-in-tabs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "One of the basic utilities supplied with any operating system is a desktop calculator. These are often simple utilities that are perfectly adequate for basic use. They typically include trigonometric functions, logarithms, factorials, parentheses and a memory function. However, the calculators featured in this article are significantly more sophisticated with the ability to process difficult mathematical functions, to plot graphs in 2D and 3D, and much more. Occasionally, the calculator tool provided with an operating system did not engender any confidence. The classic example being the calculator shipped with Windows 3.1 which could not even reliably subtract two numbers. Rest assured, the calculators listed below are of precision quality."
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7 of the Best Free Linux Calculators

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  • by bcmm (768152) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @07:44PM (#30966946)

    anything more complicated than adding a few numbers, it's easier to open a spreadsheet than to learn how any particular calculator functions.

    Or "anything more complicated than adding a few numbers, it's easier to open a calculator than to learn how any particular spreadsheet functions".

    That's really just a fancy way of saying that you are familiar with a spreadsheet, and not with a calculator program.

  • by Gerald (9696) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @07:44PM (#30966948) Homepage

    My favorite Linux calculator:

    function math
    {
            echo "scale=2 ; $*" | sed -e "s:x:*:g" | sed -e "s:,::g" | bc
    }

    $ math 12,147.2 x 3
    36441.6

  • Re:Where's DC/BC? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday January 30, 2010 @07:54PM (#30967020) Homepage Journal

    bc is crippled by the past in classic Unix style. Why does scale default to 0? Because otherwise you break things.

  • Christ (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Blakey Rat (99501) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @07:59PM (#30967046)

    Half the people on this site probably weren't even alive when Windows 3.1 came out... could you guys give the pointless Microsoft bashing a rest? Just once, ever?

    Could we maybe just get over it instead of posting another "LOLZ Microsoft BOB is bad guyz!!"

    This shit pisses me off.

  • Re:Where's DC/BC? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cow Jones (615566) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @08:16PM (#30967184)

    bc is crippled by the past in classic Unix style. Why does scale default to 0? Because otherwise you break things.

    alias bc='bc -ql'

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday January 30, 2010 @08:20PM (#30967204) Homepage Journal

    That's really just a fancy way of saying that you are familiar with a spreadsheet, and not with a calculator program.

    Maybe it's just a way of saying that he thinks visually instead of mathematically, and finds it more useful to see an entire spreadsheet with notes and information, where he can look at parts of the formula at once.

    I'm math-challenged, and find the spreadsheet easier to use, too. It's not because I know Excel better than bc. I don't really know either worth a shit. It's because I think visually, and not numerically. My hat's off to you if you can think numerically, but I haven't learned how yet.

    Don't be so sure you know everything.

  • octave in an xterm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @08:30PM (#30967272) Journal

    what more could you possibly want?

  • Re:hp48 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Overzeetop (214511) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @08:40PM (#30967326) Journal

    There was a disturbance in the force when Carly the Horrible 86'd the calculator line at HP, and collective sigh when they came back. I keep a sheet of 1/8" aluminum in the front of my HP48Gx soft case to protect the LCD when it's in there. I can't imagine engineering without it. I fully expect to have it buried with me when I die.

    RPN FTW!

  • Re:Where's DC/BC? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by amRadioHed (463061) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @09:02PM (#30967446)

    What does it matter what the default is? Put your preferred scale in your .bcrc file and be done with it.

  • by crazybit (918023) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @10:21PM (#30967782)

    My hat's off to you if you can think numerically, but I haven't learned how yet.

    My hat's off if you can write an spreadsheet formula without thinking numerically. As fas as I know you can't define functions geometrically in any of the available spreadsheets.
    Having a spreadsheet implies a graphic way of organizing/presenting the information, but reasonably numerical skills are always necessary for writing functions.

    Also, there is a widely used (some people consider is somewhat of a standard) calculator language called RPL [wikipedia.org], supported by many handheld calculators and computer software (including GPL alternatives).

  • Re:Christ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digitalhermit (113459) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:06PM (#30967970) Homepage

    could you guys give the pointless Microsoft bashing a rest? Just once, ever?

    No. Users of Microsoft product have a shared experience. It's no different from that knowing wink when I talk to other Florida residents about Hurricane Andrew. Or comisserate with a Cubs fan. Or talk about the most recent inanities of the most recent PHB with another cubicle dweller. Windows is our shared hell, our Inferno. We could no more stop talking about its pains than we could stop complaining about taxes or the latest government screwup. Indeed, I could holler over my cubicle wall, "Remember Code Red?" or "Just like Nimda" and four people will join in a collective groan of agreement.

  • Re:Where's DC/BC? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cow Jones (615566) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:07PM (#30967978)

    From your comment you apparently think I am a fucktard.

    I don't know how you arrived at that conclusion. FWIW, I agree with you that the bc defaults aren't what people usually want. All I did was point out a simple way to make bc more useful; I've had that line in my .bashrc for ages. If you'd rather complain than use an alias, that's fine by me.

    CJ

  • by mrcaseyj (902945) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:14PM (#30968010)

    Algebraic: (2 + 4) * (5 + 6)
    11 keystrokes

    RPN: 2 4 + 5 6 + *
    7 keystrokes

    By my count:
    Algebraic: 2 + 4 = * ( 5 + 6 =
    10 keystrokes

    RPN: 2 Enter 4 + 5 Enter 6 + *
    9 keystrokes

    Although it is only a single stroke on this problem, there does seem to be an advantage in keystrokes. I think there would be an additional keystroke saved on each additional sum in parenthesis that you tacked on to the product.

  • Re:Christ (Score:3, Insightful)

    by l3v1 (787564) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:11AM (#30968454)
    Half the people on this site probably weren't even alive when Windows 3.1 came out... could you guys give the pointless Microsoft bashing a rest? Just once, ever?

    Age is not an excuse for ignorance. What's crap it's crap, even time can't change that, also, short memory isn't always a good thing.
  • by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:47AM (#30968574) Journal

    Half the people on this site probably weren't even alive when Windows 3.1 came out... could you guys give the pointless Microsoft bashing a rest? Just once, ever?

    Could we maybe just get over it instead of posting another "LOLZ Microsoft BOB is bad guyz!!"

    This shit pisses me off.

    Except every few years they remind us how much they really suck.

    And 3.1 wasn't that bad. Except when you compared it with an Amiga.

    But since then they've had Windows ME, and Vista to remind us how much they suck.

  • by Rich0 (548339) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @05:38AM (#30969200) Homepage

    One or two others have hinted at this, but I find that RPN just seems much more natural. The fact that you have a stack means that you can attack a problem in almost any order, without really any sacrifice of keystrokes or hacks like the "Ans->" key or memories or whatever.

    Want to start on the outside of a big equation and work your way in? No problem - although you'll have to keep track of a few values on the stack (usually not a big deal unless the expression is very unwieldy). Want to start on the inside and work your way out? That is trivial.

    When I see people working with normal calculators and they need to capture intermediate values I often see lots of rounding and re-entry. With an RPN calculator I can see the intermediate values, and yet keep them at full precision without any need for memories/etc.

    Seeing all the intermediate values often is useful in real-world situations, as well. For example, often you'll run into equations in real life where some value of interest is a sum or product of lots of components (each of which is the result of a short calc). With an RPN calc you just perform each short calc and end up with a stack full of values, and then you hit + or * 10 times or whatever to sum/product the whole list. However, before you do that you can easily look at the list (or just watch the stack collapse and see the values as you use them). This gives you a quick idea of how the various values contribute to the whole.

    When I use infix calculators I find myself having to plan ahead a lot more to do a calculation, or writing out big long strings of math. RPN just fits how I think better.

  • Re:Christ (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:26PM (#30971916)

    Users of AmigaOS would disagree with you.

  • Re:Christ (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:53PM (#30972910) Homepage Journal

    No. Those flaws do say something about Microsoft. Just about any flaw exposed in their products is of the same type: functions accepting outside input without validation. The fact that so many flaws have turned up over the years says outright that you guys are sloppy coders.

    Mart

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