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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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  • They left out RPL/2 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jdb2 (800046) * on Saturday January 30, 2010 @08:38PM (#30966904) Journal
    While technically not a "calculator", unless you run it in interactive mode, RPL/2 [rpl2.net] is one of the oldest and most mature of any HP28/48/49/50 style UserRPL [wikipedia.org] interpreters.

    What makes it so awesome is its ability to interface with the OS via POSIX compliant commands -- it's almost like using your HP48 as a scripting tool for Unix.Too bad they didn't mention it.

    jdb2
  • hp48 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tantrum (261762) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @08:53PM (#30967002)

    I'm amazed they left out the hp48 emulator. It was an amazing calculator, and the emulator does exactly what it it is supposed to do - everything.

    It did everything a calculator is supposed to do, and it was _almost_ able to boil my coffee.

    After my 10 years working with programming, this is still the environment i love the most. Actually it is probably the only thing i still know the exact location of at all times.

    I love beeing a geek :)

  • by Garble Snarky (715674) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @08:58PM (#30967040)
    I still use the TI89 that I've had for almost 10 years, because to this day I have yet to find a desktop symbolic calculator that satisfies me.

    I use matlab for work, and its command line interface to maple is decent. What I really want, though, is to somehow combine a command line interface with a nice typeset display - visually parsing the results is so much faster that way. Does such a thing exist?
  • by ls671 (1122017) * on Saturday January 30, 2010 @09:10PM (#30967138) Homepage

    I forgot to mention that I use it in scripts too:

    ~$ (echo scale=5 ; echo 22/7) | bc
    3.14285
    ~$

  • Great ones (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AlexWillisson (1348553) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @09:24PM (#30967230)
    I don't know about those in the article (never heard of any of them), but here's what I use: Emacs M-x calc, maxima and QtOctave. Gnuplot for graphs. Often Google or python shell for quick things, if I'm too lazy to open emacs calc. I'm surprised none of those were mentioned in article.
  • by Enleth (947766) <enleth@enleth.com> on Saturday January 30, 2010 @09:32PM (#30967286) Homepage

    I prefer the Python interactive shell and GNU Octave [gnu.org] (or any other Matlab-compatible environment, including Matlab itself) for numerical calculations, Asymptote [sourceforge.net] for plots and other methods of data visualisation, Maxima [sourceforge.net] when a CAS is in order and LaTeX to turn all the stuff generated by those packages into something readable and publishable.

    Throw in some scripted links between all those tools, a few functions from Peter Acklam's Matlab Utilities [online.no], your favourite function for converting a matrix to a LaTeX table and saving it into a file in a single call, a few exec()-equivalents here and there, and you'll get a rig that auto-regenerates your report/publication/thesis/shopping list/whatever else you might have been doing, in a single run of a single program, should you spot a mistake somewhere deep in the calculations, or a typo in the input.

    For one, I don't think I'll ever understand people who use spreadsheets. And copy their results to the word processor. And then spot a mistake in a formula, fix it and proceed to copy the new, correct results from scratch. And then spot a typo in the data.

    Why biased? Well, I'm studying control systems and robotics. It's all about task automation. Besides, everything in this field involves using Matlab for something, and just about everyone in the academia (the technical side of it, at least) is using LaTeX, so you just kind of get used to using those two for just about anything after a while, and automating everything with scripts.

    Of course, the above assumes somtheing more complicated than a few basic operations in a single line. We're talking about sophisticated calculators here. For simple tasks I'm just using Google [google.com]...

  • Exercise (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zogger (617870) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @09:36PM (#30967308) Homepage Journal

    OK linux calculator and math geeks, here's a question I have wondered about before. This is just for fun, show off your leet skillz. Start with the first released linux kernel, get the size, look at some major releases, etc, do your magic as of today's sized kernel, and give us the best guess in your graph or projection when the kernel will reach or exceed one gigabyte in size, the release date as close as possible.

  • Sage? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by selven (1556643) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @09:39PM (#30967322)

    Why hasn't anyone mentioned sage yet? It is quite bloated for a calculator (it's intended to rival Mathematica, not MS Calc), but it does plain old arithmetic, calculus, equation solving, factoring and plotting (2d, 3d, 2d/3d implicit, complex, complex implicit) quite well.

  • by Evil Shabazz (937088) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @09:44PM (#30967356)
    Perhaps at first blush, your reaction might seems right. But it only takes the a slight bit of thought to realize that most calculator interfaces, regardless of OS, mimic those of a physical world calculator - that is to say they don't take advantage of the extended output options of a desktop display and require you interact with numbers in the same archaic way as the physical models. A spreadsheet, on the other hand, allows you to keep all kinds of numbers all over the place for quick reference in addition to allowing you to quickly apply similar functions across different sets of numbers or more easily write more complex mathematical equations. Even when you calculator app allows that kind of thing, it's almost always more complicated to learn than its worth, and is way more easily done by just popping open a spreadsheet. As the parent said, anything more complicated than just adding a few numbers; I'm inclined to agree.
  • by markdavis (642305) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @09:46PM (#30967374)

    The Linux calculator we use at work is gtapecalc: http://gtapecalc.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

    It is oldler, but a great business calculator. The best feature it has is the ability to emulate a calculator WITH A PRINTOUT TAPE! So you can see everything you did, edit those numbers, add comments, even print the "tape".

  • Re:hp48 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dasqua (57144) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @09:51PM (#30967404)

    My hp48gx has been my calculator of choice ever since I first got it. Still works fine.

    The benefit of this:
        quicker to use, 1 second startup
        portable, its a physical device
        easily upload results to the PC when needed

    I also use python/SAGE...

  • Re:Christ (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Garridan (597129) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:00AM (#30968604)

    True, you need a browser to use Sage's GUI, but you certainly mustn't run Mozilla. It works in every reasonably modern browser, including Chrome (despite my opposition to supporting beta browsers) -- hell -- Willam Stein even uses from his iPhone. If you can't get it to run under NoScript... that's because it uses lots of javascript, and you've disabled it. It's like complaining that your car gets bad gas mileage after you let the air out of the tires!

    However, I must disagree with your description of Sage as "labyrinthine". It's got gobs of documentation that's easy to find and navigate, and it's a Python, which is ridiculously easy to learn. Furthermore, the community is large, and it's easy to get help, both on irc and over the mailing lists.

    (disclaimer -- I'm a Sage developer, and I love the notebook)

  • Re:hp48 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ducomputergeek (595742) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @05:22AM (#30969004)

    I have the 48G. Got it in middle school and still use it. And it spent 10 years being beat to death in my backpack. I remember in high school and college everyone had Ti, pretty much everyone. I remember people would ask to borrow it, couldn't figure out how to add 1+1, then give it back and never ask to borrow it again! It got me through every class in college except for finance (couldn't do Modified Internal rate of return and I went out and bought a HP business calculator that is in a box somewhere.

    It survived 10 years of being in a backpack and still works to this day and I still use it. It's in my shachel. (It's not a man purse. Indiana Jones has one).

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @08:35AM (#30969640) Journal
    I almost find RPN more natural, but it's too destructive. I'd like to have a calculator that stores the operations tree and lets me modify any part of it. But for everyday use, who uses a calculator app? I just use a system service that evaluates the selected text and appends the result.

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