Mathematics on the Pocket PC
Around 3 years ago Russell Herman asked the question “Can Mathematics be done on pocket PCs?” and he came up with some very interesting results that included graphing packages, computer algebra systems and even an implementation of Latex! Well 3 years is a long time in the world of software so I thought I would ask the question again and post the results on here.
Surprisingly, little has changed in some areas and many of the entries in Russel’s 3 year old article are still bang up to date! For example, the only way to get Maxima on a pocket PC is still by using Rainer Keuchel’s port of Maxima 5.5 from 2001. Rainer’s port of Pari-GP is also the only version that runs on windows mobile at the present time which is a shame because the platform is much more capable than it was then.
There are also some changes for the worst – for example it seems that it is no longer possible to get the programmable calculator, rdcalc, as the developers website has disappeared. If anyone discovers a (legal) way of obtaining this software then please let me know.
It’s not all bad though – there have been some superb additions to the mathematical software library on the pocket PC. One of the most obvious ones is the superb package – SpaceTime – which really demonstrates what is possible on this platform. Then there is André Stemper’s port of version 4.2 of Gnuplot which is a great improvement on the old 3.7 version offered by the prolific Rainer Keuchel. Other new packages include YacasCE, pocket LME, Eigenmath PPC and Planmaker 2006.
My intention is to keep this page up to date so if you know of any other good pieces of mathematical pocket pc software then please let me know and I will include them here.
The entries that I have personally tested will have something like “works on WM6″ or “Does not work on WM6″ as part of the description. If this is missing then it simply means I have not yet got round to testing it yet.
Amazingly powerful Computer algebra systems and beautiful plotting packages are all well and good but sometimes what you need is a good, old fashioned calculator. There are literally hundreds available for the pocket PC and sorting the wheat from the chaff can be a painful (and potentially expensive) experience. Personally, I use Calc98 and have never looked back.
- Calc98 (free/commercial) An easy to use but powerful scientific calculator that has all of the functions you would expect and several that you would not. It works just like most standard scientific calculators by default (eg type in 1.2 and then press Sin to get the sine of 1.2) but will also work in Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) if that’s what you prefer. Some of its features include functions from science/engineering, complex numbers, matrices, vectors, statistics and finance. There is a free version available for download as well as a paid-for upgrade. Works on WM 6 devices.
Graphical and Programmable Calculators
The packages in this section allow you to generate plots and create simple programs.
- AllWave MathCal Pocket PC Edition (commercial)
- Easy Calc – (free) This was my calculator of choice back when I was using a palm PDA rather than a pocket PC. Lots of functions, easy to use and free – you don’t get much better than that. It also works on the Pocket PC via the Palm emulation software – Style Tap.
- Gnuplot 4.2 – (free) The popular open-source plotting package, gnuplot, ported to the pocket PC by André Stemper. Works on Windows Mobile 6 – I have also written a review of this application.
- Gnuplot 3.7 – (free) An older port of gnuplot to the pocket PC – this time by Rainer Keuchel. I have not yet checked that this works on Windows Mobile 6 devices but it worked just fine on Windows Mobile 2003 SE.
- MathTablet – (commercial)
- Pocket Atlantis – (commercial)
- RealCalculator – (commercial) A very nice looking shareware calculator that can handle complex numbers, matrices and 2 and 3D plotting among other things. Thanks to Petr for alerting me to this one.
Computer Algebra Systems
In an ideal world it would be possible to have something like Mathematica or Matlab on a pocket PC. Unfortunately the world is far from ideal but there are still quite a few very nice packages out there that can do symbolic and matrix based calculations.
- Eigenmath PPC – (free) This is a port of the open-source computer algebra system, eigenmath, to the pocket PC.
- Formula 1 – (commercial) This commerical CAS requires the Jeode JVM and only works on specific machines. I have not used it myself and so have no idea if it works on WM 6 devices.
- LME for pocket PC – (free) This technology preview is a Matlab-like programming language aimed at numerical computing. Works on WM6.
- Maxima 5.5 for Win CE - (free) – I have not yet tried this myself because the installation is complicated enough to need instructions and I am feeling lazy. I will do soon though – Promise!
- Pari-GP for Pocket PC (link dead as of March 2008) – (free) Pari-GP is a well known open source computer algebra system that has many features which are useful to number theorists. This pocket PC port is out of date (2002) but is still useful. It requires pocket console to be installed and works fine on Windows Mobile 6 devices.
- qdCas -(free) qdCas (quick n dirty Computer Algebra System) is a freeware port of GIAC/XCAS developed by Bernard Parisse.
- SpaceTime Mathematics - (commercial) This package is truly amazing and includes advanced plotting features, symbolic calculus and scripting. Possibly the closest thing to Mathematica in the Windows Mobile world. Works on WM 6.
- YacasCE – (free) a port of the open source CAS, Yacas (Yet Another Computer Algebra System) in german. Works on Windows Mobile 6.
Some people use a particular calculator for so long that they get very attached to it – I have known people who have used the same device for over 20 years because they know it inside out and it ‘just works’. Inevitably though even the best made calculator will die eventually and when it does you either have to move on and find a new calculator, try and find a working 2nd hand model or bring your old favourite back to life via the wonders of emulation.
- Emu48 CE/PPC – (free) Emulator for the HP48GX calculator.
- Free42 – (free) Simulator for the HP42-S calculator. Works fine on WM6 devices
- Pocket 16C - (commercial) Emulator for the HP-16C calculator
- VTI Pocket Emulator – (free) Emulator for various Texas Instruments calculators(eg TI-89,TI-86,TI-85 etc). This requires the original ROM files from a TI calculator.
An excellent article concerning the details of emulating Texas Instruments calculators on the pocket PC can be found over at the XDA developer Wiki.
Pocket Excel comes as standard on my Windows Mobile device but it might not be enough for some people. The following alternatives have had good reviews but I have not yet tried them myself.
I did consider creating a separate post for languages but in the end I thought I would just include them here for the sake of completeness.
- J (free) – A successor to APL that is very well suited to mathematics. Works on WM 6. Thanks to ‘fairplay’ for pointing this application out to me
- OpenLisp (free) – Works on WM6 – Thanks to Arseny for this one.
- Python 2.5 (free) Works on WM6.
- Pocket Scheme (free) Works on WM6.
…because they are pretty!
- Mandelbrot and Co.2003a (free) This supports 8 different Mandelbrot/Julia types of fractal – works on WM6
- Latex for pocket pc (free) – Yet another port by Rainer Keuchel. I got this working on my old 2003 SE device but have not yet found the time to try it on WM6. I thought I had seen another,more recent, PPC Latex port somewhere on the net but cannot relocate it.
If you know of any packages that you think should be included in this list then please leave a comment and let me know.
Update – 25th March 2008 – added OpenLisp