Mathematics and Quantitative Tools: Select Software Product Briefs

Interactive Mathematics

Academic Systems' Interactive Mathematics offers a series of multimedia lessons in basic mathematics and pre-, elementary, intermediate, and college algebra. The 26 topics and 92 lessons provide instructors with graphics, animation, video, and real-time feedback to engage students and assess their individual needs. Students work at their own pace, and, if necessary, can utilize online help to receive instruction appropriate to their individual learning style. The program can also be used for distance learning applications.

Mathcad 2001

The latest version of Mathsoft's technical calculation software, Mathcad 2001 features improved memory management, a new high-performance calculation engine, and a picture component for image manipulation. Designed to serve as the centerpiece of an engineering desktop, Mathcad 2001 is compatible with the Microsoft Office Suite, and readily interoperates with most of the common engineering tools, including Excel, Visio 2000, AutoCAD 2000 and MATLAB. Additionally, this release of Mathcad allows for real-time data acquisition from National Instruments analog I/O boards.

MathXpert Calculus Assistant

Designed to help first-year calculus students interpret concepts such as limits, differentiation, and integration, the MathXpert Calculus Assistant offers a self-paced learning environment with over 2,100 problems to solve. For each problem, MathXpert carries out a step, identifies that step in red, and records it to the right, repeating the process until the correct solution is achieved. To ensure student accuracy, every step that MathXpert allows is mathematically correct. Finally, a system of operation menus, automatic assistance, and written justification guides students through areas of difficulty.

MATLAB Student Version

Release 12 of the MATLAB Student Version, including MATLAB 6 and Simulink 4, integrates computation, graphics, and programming to offer an intuitive language for expressing problems and their solutions, both mathematically and visually. Applications include signal and image processing, control system design, financial engineering, and medical research. A flexible design combined with a variety of companion products enables users to explore data and create custom tools. This year, this version will be also be available to students on the Windows and Linux platforms.

Mathematica 4.1

The latest version of Wolfram's Mathematica software, Mathematica 4.1 allows users to perform a single task, such as solving a differential equation, or an entire solution, prototype, or application. Presentation tools include structured outlines, buttons, palettes, hyperlinks, and calculations that remain fully active throughout the entire session. All notebooks are stored as plain text and can be pasted into e-mails, or put on a Web or FTP site without affecting their quality. In addition, Mathematica 4.1 automatically chooses the appropriate algorithms for the tasks given, but allows users to override this function with their own method.

Data Desk 6.0

Data Desk 6.0 provides interactive tools for the examination of data and display based on the concepts and philosophy of Exploratory Data Analysis. The program includes tools for data exploration that simplify intuitive analysis without requiring users to have special statistics training. Additionally, users can run alternative analyses and linking capabilities to develop a better understanding of data patterns, relationships, and exceptions. Also available is Data Desk Plus, which combines Data Desk 6.0 with the ActivStats software.


The latest statistical package from SPSS Inc., SYSTAT 10.0 enables users to compare subgroups, overlay charts, and transform coordinates. Other new features include advanced chart types such as maps, multiplots, kernel densities, Voronoi tessellations, function plots, contours, and scatterplot matrices with 20 diagonal density options. The software still includes extensive graphing capabilities and statistical algorithms, an intuitive Windows interface, and a flexible command language.

IDL Student Version

The IDL Student Version is an economical rendering of Interactive Data Language software that enables students to use it in highly technical curricula. Built on IDL 5.0, the Student Version integrates a powerful and flexible structured programming language with math libraries, a broad range of statistical routines, and state-of-the-art graphics. Some IDL features, such as IDL Save, IDL Insight, and the ability to integrate with external programs, are disabled. Supported operating systems include Windows (3.11, 95, and NT) and PowerMac.

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