Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Mathematical Notation Software?

MagicJigPipe - 7-3-2009 at 08:42

I'm looking for an easy-to-use (preferably) program for typing up and subsequently printing college level (calculus) mathematical formulas and equations.

I get to take a sheet of notes/equations in for this exam/quiz on Tuesday and I would like my notes to be very neat and as legible as possible (I can never draw the integral symbol the same way twice!)

Of course it needs to be able to do integrals w/ bounds, fractions, long division, Greek letters, infinity, mult-level/multi-variable exponents, square/cube/quad roots etc... And basically just be able to form all of those things into neat equations like in a textbook.

Freeware is, of course, preferable but not absolutely necessary.

Also, I found something that looked promising called InftyEditor but I can't seem to find a place to download it as their site seems to be down. And also it's always good to try more than one program (especially since I'll be using it often for years to come).

Thanks in advance my friends!


I know that I really should know this by now but it's just tripping me up for some reason. How would one take the integral of e^(x/2)? I see the answer but I don't know how they got there [the "equation" I made from looking at the answer is: [Integral of] ne^(x/C) = Cne^(x/C) ]. Would you use "power rule" with "quotient rule" inside it? No, because e is a defined number--but--it should still work. I'll try it but that still doesn't mean it's the right way just because it gives the right answer (like my "equation" above).

I know this is so obvious but--sometimes this happens. I'm really not clueless... I hope.

[Edited on 3-7-2009 by MagicJigPipe]

DJF90 - 7-3-2009 at 10:07

MJP: Microsoft Word 07 is pretty good and does everything I want it to do mathematically (I'm doing university level maths for my chemistry course - multiple integrals, spherical polar coordinates, vectors and determinants, partial differentials and differential equations).

I think you have to do you integral by reconition... or substitution. you could let u=x/2, then you can say that you have the integral of e^u. But you also have to change what you integrate by (i.e. no longer dx, but du, so you have to multiply by dx/du (dx/du x du = dx) which is found by differentiating u= x/2 and then inverting.

So you end up with the integral of e^u x 2 du.

2 can be taken outside the integral sign, and the integral of e^u du is e^u

So the answer = 2 (e^u). but then you need to substitute back in for u (remember u=x/2)

So the real answer is 2 (e^(x/2)) + c [dont forget the constant of integration!]

[Edited to add image - from word 07]

[Edited on 7-3-2009 by DJF90]

Integration.JPG - 24kB

pantone159 - 7-3-2009 at 13:01

LaTex is what you want, for writing nicely formatted equations.

It takes a little bit of practice to get used to formatting the equations, but they come out very nicely. I use PDF files as the output format.

Much better than MS Word IMO. The 2007 and 2003 versions don't work the same (and files can't be shared between them). You can use the equation editor in Word to format things without learning formatting codes, but once you get the hang of LaTex you can make very nice, sophisticated, formatted equations, you won't want to go back.

Edit - LaTex is free.

[Edited on 7-3-2009 by pantone159]

Blind Angel - 7-3-2009 at 13:07

Mathtype is what you want. It is the upgraded version of the Word add-on, also act as an independant software.

It's not a freeware, but you can easily find a cracked version

[Edited on 7-3-2009 by Blind Angel]

JohnWW - 7-3-2009 at 23:35 5,857 Kb 5,571 Kb 5,425 Kb 5,239 Kb 4,888 Kb 5,427 password: 8,542 Kb 5,422 Kb

chief - 8-3-2009 at 00:47

Every professional does it with latex: Even the journals and books are made like that. Get yourself some linux (eg. debian), install the latex packages and there you go. Has lots of advantages, eg. making the documents in automatic way, to include the always actual and new dataplots etc. .
If you want to do everything by hand, then you might use the "Texmacs"(if I remember right) editor; functions a an intermediate to latex ...

pantone159 - 8-3-2009 at 07:33

You can use Tex on Windows as well as Linux, btw. I have 'TeXnicCenter' installed on my Windows machine, and it seems to work nicely.

watson.fawkes - 8-3-2009 at 08:56

I'll second all the recommendations to use TeX. Indeed many of the other math packages use TeX notation inside. The right way to think of TeX is a programming language whose output is a document. The language is, for ordinary purpose, quite simple. You can also, however, do complicated and nasty things with it.
Originally posted by pantone159
I have 'TeXnicCenter' installed on my Windows machine, and it seems to work nicely.
I use this regularly. It works great. One of the best features is back-linking from the previewer to the source text. It's excellent for correcting typos.

MagicJigPipe - 8-3-2009 at 10:45

Thanks for the advice everybody. JohnWW, I appreciate your help too but, unfortunately, Rapidshare is pretty unreliable and apparently there are "no slots for free users" and I need to wait 2 minutes. Oh wait, now I need to wait 2 more minutes. Two more. Two more. Two more. Two more. I give up for now... Ugh...

I'm going to try all of these programs.

Thanks again!

P.S. I knew it was something simple like a u-substitution! Damn! Thanks...


I got MathType to work (of course I paid for it ;) )

[Edited on 3-8-2009 by MagicJigPipe]

MathTypeScreenShot.png - 27kB

JohnWW - 8-3-2009 at 13:51

Re TexnicCenter: See .
It is a free open-source utility. It can be downloaded from:
which links to

[Edited on 9-3-09 by JohnWW]

not_important - 8-3-2009 at 22:42

While I agree with the LaTex suggestions, if you also need general purpose text editing and/or "Office" functionality, Open Office might be the way to go. There's it's built-in equation editing

and a LaTeX plug-in

While the UI of OpenOffice was somewhat modeled after MS Word, and thus looks to have been designed by demented ferrets after a coke binge, it is free and somewhat usable. It's PDF output generally works well, too; a plus for on-line publications.

chief - 9-3-2009 at 01:35

Definately the latex-linux- learning-curve pays out a lot, once taken ... ; also with the latex there are lots of extensional packages (all free) for drawing molecular structures, technical plots, circuits ... (... even musical notations)

But maybe it's too much of overblow for a single small mini-project ...

MagicJigPipe - 9-3-2009 at 13:02

Well, I most likely will use it for many other things later on. I will definitely check it out. I will need to use a Windows program for now since I don't have Linux or the time to install it and get comfortable with it right now. I've been planning on installing it for quite some time but I never seem to get around to it.

The last time I used Linux was about 5 years ago. I had ManDrake. Does that still exist?

chief - 9-3-2009 at 13:34

Debian would be the stuff of choice -- more than 18000 software-packages available, and easy installation: One command ("synaptic" or directly "apt-get") installs the desired program, and thereby resolves all the dependencies automatically

pantone159 - 9-3-2009 at 17:39

I have used Ubuntu, which is related to Debian I think. (Same process for getting stuff: apt-get.) Ubuntu is easy to setup, not any harder than Windows XP.

Again, you don't need this for LaTex, I have this working on XP, and it is great.

watson.fawkes - 9-3-2009 at 19:15

Originally posted by MagicJigPipe
Well, I most likely will use it for many other things later on. I will definitely check it out
TeX becomes a way of life after a while. I've begun typesetting all my notes; TeX makes it easy to put them under version control. For anybody in a science field, TeX is pretty much <i>de rigeur</i> as a communication tool. It's a learning investment that will pay off, and I say that about very little having to do with software products.

pantone159 - 9-3-2009 at 19:49

Originally posted by watson.fawkes
TeX makes it easy to put them under version control.

This is worth repeating for emphasis!

Version control tools are very useful programs that keep track of the history of revisions of datafiles, and allow multiple users to edit and synchronize their changes. They are indespensible in software development, and useful for all kinds of things. If you have used one, you will not go back.

These systems work most efficiently with text files. In that case, the files are a set of lines, and typically only a few lines change with each revision, which means this can be stored very easily. TeX source files are text files like this. OTOH, binary files such as Microsoft Word files, have to be saved in their entirety with each change, which consumes far more space in the database.

There are free version control systems, Subversion is one I have used.