MuPAD

MuPAD deserves the full support of the Linux community, and if you use mathematics in any way, then MuPAD should find a home on your system.
Other Documentation

The canonical MuPAD site is

www.mupad.de

but most information is at

www.sciface.com

to which you are directed from the MuPAD site. Here you will find a few FAQs, some examples of MuPAD in different areas of mathematics, and some comparisons with other CASs. Unfortunately these comparisons are fairly old, and at the time of writing they have not been upgraded to the latest version of MuPAD. There are also a few technical articles written by members of the MuPAD team discussing aspects of MuPAD internal workings. These articles should be read if you wish to master MuPAD.

You will also find some MathPAD journals. These are published by the MuPAD team, and cover CASs and their uses in general. Only a few of them are devoted to MuPAD, and these few are well worth reading, as they give fascinating insight into the development of MuPAD, and the reasons for various design considerations.

As yet, there are no books on MuPAD, aside from the published manual, and few articles in the open literature. The two sites above, and the on-line documentation, pretty much cover the lot.

Installation of MuPAD

Couldn't be easier! You need to download two files: one containing the binaries (mupad, xmupad, vcam, hypage and such); and the other the “shared” material: the documentation and MuPAD libraries. Uncompress them, and untar them in a suitable directory (/usr/local/MuPAD is a good spot, but anywhere will do), and add /usr/local/MuPAD/share/bin (or whatever) to your path. As I mentioned before, this bin directory contains only shell scripts, which set all necessary environment variables before calling the binaries. Thus there is no need for any extra fiddling.

To use the graphical capabilities of MuPAD, you also need the xview libraries installed on your system.

You will find that MuPAD, thus installed, has certain memory restrictions: you will be unable to deal with commands requiring intensive memory use. To overcome this, you need to register your copy of MuPAD. This will provide you with a license key which you can use to unlock the MuPAD's memory use.

Comparisons, Conclusions, and Other “C” Words...

One of the most commonly asked questions to the sci.math.symbolic newsgroup is: “What's the difference between...?” The best answer I've seen so far is: “They're spelled differently!” In that spirit, I intend not to give a detailed anaysis of the differences between MuPAD and other CASs, but instead to make a few general points.

First, MuPAD can't be beaten on price: it's free! Strictly speaking, this is not true; there are circumstances for which you must pay to use MuPAD. But for a single-user Linux user (and which of us is not?), it costs nothing.

The interface is pretty clumsy compared with the lovely worksheet interface of Maple and Mathematica. The interface for MuPAD under MS Windows 95/NT is much more refined, but you have to pay for it. For this reason alone, I would say that MuPAD is not as well suited as its rivals for elementary teaching. It's nice to see input and output in different colours, and for mathematics output to be presented properly typeset. I also like having graphical output as part of the worksheet. Currently, none of these are possible in MuPAD.

Again, MuPAD does not have the mathematical breadth of its rivals. An example will illustrate my point: the attempt to solve the Riccati differential equation dy 2 2 -- = x + y , y(0) = 1. dx Maple can solve this with no problem; the solution is a complicated expression involving Bessel functions. However, MuPAD can't solve this; it doesn't know enough about Bessel functions to recognize all possible places where they may apply. Also, its solve command, as applied to differential equations, does not have the power of Maple's dsolve command. However, MuPAD is a much younger product, and wheras both Maple and Mathematica are produced by large companies with enviable resources, MuPAD is produced by one small and chronically underfunded research team.

On the flip side, MuPAD is as extendible as its rivals. Its programming power is easily equal to that of Maple and Mathematica. What's more, it provides different programming paradigms, and doesn't force you into any particular style. Again, it offers full parallel programming, and comes with an excellent graphical debugger. To do these topics justice would require at least another article the same size as this one, so get MuPAD and read its documentation!

The use of domains in MuPAD means that it is possible to explore deep aspects of mathematics, and to write very general routines. Thus MuPAD has a depth equal to or greater than its rivals, even if it loses out on breadth.

So why use MuPAD? If you are after a CAS to be used as a “black box” to churn out solutions to equations; then MuPAD is not as suitable as its rivals (at least, not yet). However, if you are exploring mathematical relationships and structures, then MuPAD would appear to be the tool of choice.

I am extremely impressed with MuPAD; free software of this excellence is produced very rarely indeed. MuPAD deserves the full support of the Linux community, and if you use mathematics in any way, then MuPAD should find a home on your system.

Alasdair McAndrew lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife, three young children and a grumpy cat. He is a Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Technology, where he teaches mathematics and computing. He is an enthusiastic and satisfied user of Linux, and has been since kernel 0.99; currently he is running Linux on both a desktop and a laptop. He enjoys trawling the Internet for Linux software suitable for children, and when he has time, playing the viola da gamba.

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Sellout

Anonymous's picture

Mupad has been bought out by mathworks and all code is now under matlab (junk) licence.
any and all open source work is now dead.

Thankyou for a well written a

Donald MacKinnon's picture

Thankyou for a well written article. TeXmacs acts as an excellent interface to mupad. I assume that the TeXmacs screen display generated by TeX. The graphics is generated by javaview. The combination of TeXmacs and javaview greatly enhance the mupad experience.

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