|Frequently Asked Questions|
What is symbolic computation?
Basically, symbolic computation deals with mathematical computations on numbers, symbols, expressions, and formulas, in an exact manner, as opposed to numeric computation that deals only with floating-point numbers (and therefore approximations). Typical operations include symbolic differention, integration, polynomial greatest common divisors, etc.
What languages are used for symbolic computations?
SAC systems are interactive and most use a language very close to common mathematical notations. The mathematical operations can also be sequenced together in a program using a language defined by the SAC system.
Where can I get SAC systems and how expensive are they?
Look under the systems section on SymbolicNet. The MAXIMA system is free and can be downloaded for different platforms. Commercial systems are also available.
What machines do SAC systems run on?
UNIX workstations, PC's, and MAC's.
Is there a USNET news group for SAC?
Yes. Look under the USENET group sci.math.symbolic on SymbolicNet for more information.
Can you name some popular SAC systems?
Large general-purpose systems include "AXIOM", "REDUCE", "MACSYMA", "MAPLE", and "MATHEMATICA". Look at the systems section on SymbolicNet.
Can I see computer algebra systems in action online?
Yes, simply visit the live demos page. The ICM live demos can be experienced on the Web.
Are there professional organizations for SAC?
Yes, there is the Special Interest Group on Symbolic and Algebraic Manipulation SIGSAM within the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). SIGSAM publishes the SIGSAM Bulletin (quarterly) and co-sponsers the annual International Symposium on SAC (ISSAC).
What are the applications of SAC systems?
SAC systems can help with routine and tedious computations in any technical application area. Scientist and engineers find SAC systems to be effective tools. See tutorial information on SymbolicNet for more information.
Can SAC systems help numeric computing?
Yes, most definitely. Combining exact symbolic computing with approximate numeric computing can be very helpful in many applications. Also, SAC systems offer infinite precision integer arithmetic and indefinite precision floating-point arithmetic operations.
Are there books on SAC?
Yes. Look at references on SymbolicNet
How extensive is the R&D efforts in SAC?
R&D is world-wide. Commercial systems are beginning to find a large number of users. Also look at research groups on SymbolicNet.
How do I meet people in the SAC field?
International, national, and regional meetings in SAC are being held regularly. The major yearly conference is International Symposium on Symbolic and Algebraic Computation (ISSAC). See conferences on SymbolicNet. The USENET group sci.math.symbolic can be very useful as well.
Are there standard data representations for mathematics?
This is an area of recent research and development. The W3C MathML is an XM-Ldefined markup language for mathematics. MathML has presentation encoding for displaying math formulas and content encoding to capture the meaning of math formulas. Openmath is a system to rigiorously define the meaning and semantics of mathematics notations.
Can Mathematical Information/Computation be obtained on the Web/Internet?
This is also an area of research and development. See Internet Accessible Mathematical Computation Homepage for more information.