Popularity of CAS programming languages: Maxima, Maple, Mathematica

A few months ago, inspired by the PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language,  I compared Google trends data for the 3M of CAS software:  Maxima, Maple, and Mathematica based searches of the form “<language> tutorial”.  The result was that Maxima seems to be slowly increasing in popularity  with about 20% of the interest in the 3M.

Today I saw another popularity metric: The TIOBE index.  Using their methodology of Google trends data for the search string <language> + programming, I have these  results for the proportion of searches among the 3M:



An undocumented synonym for diff() in Maxima

Today, a student turned in some Maxima work for my class. I discovered he had successfully used the command derivative() in place of diff() with seemingly identical results.  I verified that the same thing works in several versions of Maxima I have installed on my windows computer.  Who knew?


Legend Position in Maxima Plots

Here’s something I just learned and want to share with others and record for my use the next time I need to do this and have already forgotten!

The position and appearance of the figure legend in Maxima plots drawn with plot() (by setting gnuplot_preamble) and in draw() (by setting user_preamble),  can be manipulated to any of the gnuplot options listed here.

Here are some examples:




A pause() function for Maxima

In MATLAB, pause interrupts execution of a loop until the user strikes a key, and pause(<n>) pauses for <n> seconds before resuming execution.
Here’s my attempt at a pause() function for Maxima that works in a similar way to MATLAB.  It uses Maxima’s read() to stop everything and wait for user input, and it uses the lisp function sleep to stop for a fixed number of seconds.
**note that a lisp function
     (function-name argument)
can be called inside Maxima as
I’m not happy that in order to resume after the pause, the user needs to enter a valid character (space or nothing results in an error) followed by CTRL-SHIFT.  I hope to either figure something else out or even better hear suggestions from other Maxima users!
    if tsecs=0 then
       read("Execution Paused...enter any character then CTRL-ENTER")
        disp(sconcat("paused for ", tsecs," seconds")),
call this either as
or, for a three second pause

Multiple plots in a single Maxima figure

In MATLAB, I often use the subplot() command to make an array of multiple plots in a single figure.

In Maxima, we can achieve that by generating each of the subplots using gr2d(),  and then putting them all together with a call to draw() or wxdraw():


There’s an optional columns argument — the subplots are drawn row-wise in an array with the specified number of columns:


And of course all this works for 3d plots using gr3d():


Maxima Language Syntax Highlighting in Notepad++


Notepad++ is lots of people’s favorite text editor for Windows.  I use it every day.

A little googling around led me to a Notepad++ user-defined syntax highlighting  file for the Maxima language, written by David Scherfgen and shared at the Maxima-Discuss list.

I made a little change to the file that overcame a nagging difficulty —  I found that .mac file extensions weren’t automatically being recognized upon opening.

Here’s a link to my modifed file.

To include Maxima syntax highlighting in Notepad++ do this:

  1. unzip the downloaded file MaximaNotepadDS.zip
  2. in Notepad++, go to Language –> Define your language…
  3. Press Import and navigate to the file MaximaNotepadDS.xml
  4. Quit Notepad++ and then start the program again.
  5. Now in Language menu, you’ll see Maxima in the list of languages at the bottom of the drop-down menu
  6. A  .mac file already open won’t display with the new syntax highlighting, but any .mac file you open or save from new will automatically show with syntax highlighting.