On Fri, 21 Jun 2013, Peng Yu wrote:OK! I am afraid that I can not change how sourceforge arranges its forums
> My question is not a developer question. But the forum on sf is just
> inconvenience to use.
etc, but discussion here can be of interest to developers so you are
> Reduce-algebra is very capable and free
Sorry you do not like that. There are a range of ways you can help there!
(but the gui is bad, it fa.
The most extreme would be by working on a new GUI that you liked better -
the fact that Reduce is open source means you have access to pretty much
all you need to do that! Less extreme would be if there were MODEST
changes to what there is now that you believe might make a useful move in
the right direction. I say "modest" changes because I very definitely know
how much time and effort it takes to do anything in that direction. I have
a re-implementation of the GUI code for the CSL version of Reduce as one
of my projects that is at present stalled but when/if I ever get back to
it or if somebody else joins in and moves things forward it would be good
to know what users would like. Please note that explaining things in terms
that could relate to actually implementing something is liable to be a lot
more liable to influence things that high level statements of what is
desirable that do not map neatly onto implementation projects, and
stepwise ways to move from where we are to a better world may be easier to
digest than a "throw it all away and do something different"!
I think that different people are motivated by very different aspects of
> There are recent papers using it. But it is Mathematica is more used.
> Has anybody compared the pros and cons of reduce-algebra vs
> Mathematica? (I don't find a comparison.) Thanks.
the two systems. Here is my start at a few thoughts, but note very well
that somebody employed by Mathematica or Maple, or working on Axiom, or
who had used Maxima for years and years would put things differently (and
could still be right!). You specifically ask about Mathematica but I may
raise points that put Reduce in a broader context of other systems too...
(1) If you are employed in some companies or work in some universities you
may not personally have to pay for your software. You may choose only to
collaborate with others who do not have budget constraints. But some
algebra systems cost money and others do not. If a student starts using
Reduce while studying they do not suddenly have to pay once they graduate.
This issue is irrelevant to some users but matters a lot to others!
(2) If you pay for your algebra system you hope that the supplier will
provide support in all sorts of ways. If you fetch something that is open
source then the help from the developers is not something you can count on
100%. But if you find a bug then with a commercial offering you can report
it but then may need to wait until a patch or a new version is released.
With open source at least in principle you can inspect the source code and
track down issues for yourself and fix then. An extreme stance taken by
some is that they will not trust a result where they can not see all the
steps to it (hence they will view any results from a closed source system
as unverifiable and hence scientifically indefensible). Others will not
feel happy unless they are using something with paid for support (even if
they do not do a careful assessment of the frequency with which things are
fixed for them).
(3) Mathematica (in particular) emphasises a use-interface with graphing
and a load of other stuff fully integrated. If you need that sort of stuff
then you need something other than Reduce. Some people do and others just
want to compute algebraic results - and for them the notebook stuff and
graphing capability of Mathematica (or Maple... etc) is not central to
what they need of an ALGEBRA system.
(4) Some users need an algebra system for what I will describe as "general
algebra". Eg almost any use in high-school or at undergraduate level is
liable to be like that. Any of the full systems is liable to do what they
need (maybe)???? Others have special needs and so some particular systems
might thus suit them best. Let me list some things I think are strengths
of and then weaknesses of Reduce so you can see that for SOME people these
may be special reasons to go one way or the other:
(a) Maybe all of the "redlog" parts of Reduce are respectably
cutting edge tools for solving the sorts of problem that they
address? If you need that then you should probably take Reduce
(b) If you want to embed an algebra system within your existing
or future product then Reduce is a sane candidate to look at
rather carefully, and has been evaluated or adopted by a number
of people in the past.
(c) It may be that the Reduce origin in high energy physics makes it
a useful tool for those keen on non-commutating algebra. Each of
the various "loadable packages" in Reduce can represent a unique
selling point for some users!
(d) If you develop a new package for Reduce it can go out to the world
free of charge. Do you like that or do you view that as a problem?
There are things that some other systems do better that Reduce!
(a) Integration involving special functions is done better elsewhere.
There are plans for a big upgrade to Reduce on that front but no
(b) Branch cuts and multi-values functions are a menace - and in general
Reduce is not at the forefront of getting them right. Some other
systems are better at letting the user note that some values should
be positive or negative or non-zero or whatever.
(c) Mathematica will explain that it can do EVERYTHING. Graph theory,
number theory, group theory and probability (etc etc), and if you
count the number of built-in or library capabilities it has then it
beats Reduce easily. If you ever need any of those things!
(d) As we mentioned before, the Reduce interface to the user is
such as to try to get the job done. It has not benefitted from
hundreds of man-years of refinement to make it beautiful. That
really matters to some people.
(e) If you are working in some special domain then there may be
specialist software that will serve you much better than any of the
general purpose packages!
You can find comparisons of systems based on just what coverage of
capabilities they have. Eg the 1999 paper
is something to chew on if you have not found it already. Of course ANY
such report gets out of date after a few years, and for any particular
user there is a BIG issue of what capabilities they need, since my belief
is that most people have their own limited range of uses.
Mathematica makes a pitch for itself on its web-site, eg
which naturally explains how good it is and how it will solve all your
I then look at what Wikipedia reports, which is
"Mathematica is proprietary software restricted by both copyright law and
A regular single-user license for Mathematica used in a commercial
environment costs $2495 although new customers can purchase the "Starter
Edition" for $995. They include eight additional kernels for parallel
computations and one year of service that includes updates, technical
support, a home use license, a webMathematica Amateur license, a
Wolfram Workbench license and three Mathematica Player Pro licenses.
Discounts are available for government, charity, educational,
pre-college, school, student, home use and retiree use and depend on
geographical region. Student licenses cost $140. A general "home use"
license ("Mathematica Home Edition") is also available to the public and
is priced at $295. Educational site licenses allow use by students at
home. A license manager similar to FLEXnet is available to provide
sharing of licenses within a group."
and if they could NOT make a compelling argument that they had a bunch of
features makiing them better that Reduce (which you can download for free
and see all the source code for) then something would be seriously amiss.
The only two questions for an individual or which of the rungs of the
Mathematica pricing ladder might apply to them and whether one of the
(many) extra features Mathematica offers is important enough to them to
justify the cost (remembering that in some cases the license you buy will
expire after a while). Some people will jump one way some the other!
I hope that some who favour Reduce will join us in trying to keep its
existing capabilities up to date and in adding new refinements!
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