Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Microsoft Mathematics

I’ve recently been exploring Microsoft Mathematics.

Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 is free software that can be downloaded from  It has a number of features that are implemented very well in an easy to use format.  The ones that I have used are the in-built CAS, the equation solver and graphing screen.

The CAS engine appears to be the same as many others – it gives the same results as Maxima for many things.  It’s easier to use than Maxima though: entering and editing are straightforward and there are some useful options, such as differentiation/integration, that are offered immediately upon entering an expression.  Using CAS can make writing questions easier as shown with the example below.

Equation solver
The equation solver will solve any equation, as a normal CAS engine would do, but it also includes the option to display detailed solution steps.  Where there are a couple of usual methods, such as completing the square of the quadratic formula for a quadratic equation, it will display both methods. 

Any expression or equation entered in the worksheet can be displayed in the graphing tab.  It automatically recognises parameters so y=x²+bx+c will plot a quadratic with sliders for b and c which can be animated.

Overall this is a very useful piece of software that, whilst it is free, is worth downloading.  The inbuilt triangle-solver and formula-solver in particular will be of use for many teachers and students.

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