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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Octave: Matlab's clone

In this world there are a number of clones of Matlab. Even though Matlab really grew up to take over majority of high-tech industries, these clones also could manage to survive. There could be two major reasons behind this: (i) Matlab is relatively high priced (ii) Some people in academic world felt the urge to reinvent the wheel or may be they just could not avoid the intellectual urge for continuing a parallel evolution.

These parallel developments date back to 1980s when the power of matrix based numerical computation was realised. The general viewpoint was that the matrix programming could be developed with an interface that could get away with Fortran syntax with its declaration of variables of different kinds. Octave is the closest clone of Matlab. It was developed at University of Wisconsin by John W Eaton as a companion program of a textbook, so that students could solve Chemical Engineering problems without wasting time in debugging ugly-looking Fortran codes.

It has a popular user-base in a number of universities in USA - especially where no or only a limited number of licenses are available to students. Octave is available as both source code and binaries for Windows, Linux, Unix and is freely distributable under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Click here to download Octave.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


SAGE stands for 'Software for Algebra and Geometry Exploration' and it's a new concept that was bound to happen in the web sooner or later. Rather than being a new general purpose math tool, it brings together many existing open source math tools under one interface and makes them web accessible.

SAGE is free and open software that supports research and teaching in a wide range of topics including algebra, geometry, number theory, cryptography, etc. SAGE includes the about 9 Softwares allowing symbolic or numerical computations covering topics like Group theory, Commutative algebra, Number theory etc.

Here is Homepage of SAGE. You can directly go to a good tutorial here and the web-based interface here. Currently, SAGE runs on Mac OS X, Linux and Windows.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Indo-UK Film on Ramanujan

Indian Director Dev Benegal and English writer-actor-director Stephen Fry are joining hands together to make a film on Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan -- His incredible journey to England and friendship with the famous Cambridge mathematician G.H. Hardy. The film will be mainly based on Robert Kanigel's amazing biography "The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan".

Benegal has been preparing himself for this project for the last 20 years and Fry wanted to make a film on the story ever since he read about it while studying at Cambridge.

Stephen Fry was in India recently at the invitation of the UK Film Council to sign the official India-UK Film co-production treaty in March. Benegal and Fry met President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The president, who himself is a scientist, was born in a village neighbouring Ramanujan's and grew up sharing passion for science and technology. The prime minister studied economics at Cambridge.