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KDE GUI Science

KDE Conquers Astrophysics With Kst 195

Posted by simoniker
from the winner-is-you dept.
Telex4 writes "The Free Software community is constantly inundated with interesting new projects, but occasionally something crops up which is really special. Kst is just such a project. Started by Barth Netterfield, an astrophysicist, as a personal project to plot data from his experiments, it has now taken on a life of its own, being used in numerous academic projects, and finding funding from several government agencies. Intrigued by this project's success, and with a little prod from co-developer George Staikos, I interviewed Barth and George about kst, Free Software and physics."
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KDE Conquers Astrophysics With Kst

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  • KDE Naming (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @08:57PM (#9003163)
    I suppose its slightly better than KastroPhysics.
  • Pychart (Score:5, Informative)

    by updog (608318) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:04PM (#9003201) Homepage
    That definitely looks cool - another nice way I've found to plot data in a Python/QT environment is with Pychart [hp.com]

    It's easy to generate png/pdf/ps plots and they look really nice.

    • Re:Pychart (Score:5, Informative)

      by bloosqr (33593) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:12PM (#9003259) Homepage
      If you like Python for doing plotting check out vpython [vpython.org] Its basically a very simple opengl interface glued into python. Its actually originally designed to as a "computational physics" pedagogy language (which its really pretty fantastic for actually) but since its really just python its very easy to turn it into a poor mans 3d/4d plotting program :)

      • Re:Pychart (Score:5, Informative)

        by Satai (111172) * on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:49PM (#9003507)
        Hell, why stop there? VTK [vtk.org] and MayaVi [sf.net] are also pretty amazing visualization kits, both of which are either written in or provide python bindings. (MayaVi is built on VTK, but it provides a nice wrapper.) VTK has great isosurface locaters and some pretty awesome vector algorithms for looking at 2d and 3d data. We use it for physical applications at my work...
    • If you're interested in something a little more complex than basic plots and charts I very highly reccomend VTK [kitware.com] a visualisation toolkit that is unparalelled for putting together complex 3D visualisations of data. It's all in C++, is open source, and has Java, and Python bindings.

      I generally used the Python myself - and the python API is very nicely done - a pleasure to use, and a great way to do complex 3D data visualisation.

      Jedidiah.
    • And, it's got a pointless K prefix and a meaningless name. "Kst." It rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

      Welcome to the brilliance of OSS marketing.
    • If you look at the slide with all the swatches, there's one for "cornflower blue" Anyone who's seen "Fight Club" should find this funny. I did at least.
  • "kst"? (Score:5, Funny)

    by kst (168867) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:06PM (#9003216)
    For the record, I had nothing to do with this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:06PM (#9003217)
    As in "konquered astrophysiks"? How else can I tell that it was written for KDE?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:06PM (#9003220)
    The author used Linux/KDE because that is what he was familiar with when he developed it. Its not suprising since universities are very UNIX centric. But that doesn't necessarily mean KDE is better suited for this type of application. In my opinion, no operating system/window manager will really have any significant advantages since the bulk of the work is number crunching. It could of easily been done in Win32.
    • Not quite... (Score:5, Informative)

      by DarkMan (32280) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:37PM (#9003429) Journal
      I take your point - most of this application, like many, is in principle doable independant of the underlying OS.

      However, there are a few pluses on the side of Linux for this application.

      2 GB+ files. Some versions of Win32 can do them, some can't. Some can only do it with a following wind. When you're talking scientific data, such file sizes can crop up often, if not a regular feature.

      Network independance. This is less of an issue for display, but on the processing side, being able to coordinate multiple tasks, spread across many servers, from one desktop is a big win. Particualrly when it's a 'free' side effect (requires no extra programming). Four boxes are cheaper than a quad box - by quite a sizeable margin.

      Which leads us on to the scheduler - with Win2K, a background number crunch task will take longer than on Linux, and impact interactive response more. That's not off the top of my head - that's based off my Linux/KDE desktop and my office mates Win2K systems doing the same tasks (computational chemistry, so essentially big matrix sums).

      There's also library support. Not such a big one, as they can be ported, but it's more work that way. By libraries, I mean things like FFTW, LAPACK and BLAS.

      So, that's a few areas with modest wins for unix/KDE. I'll add that headless admin for Unix is simpler than for Windows, which helps with the headless cruncher boxes, and conclude that there is a reason that unix is popular in universities, as it's got a slight edge.

      Yes, it may well have been as easy to write for Win32 as KDE [0] - but in use, the linux is better for the number crunching.

      [0] I wouldn't agree to that personally, but there's a degree of personal preference in there, so that's not objective.
      • 2 GB+ files. Some versions of Win32 can do them, some can't.

        Much like Unix and Linux.

        Of course the really big difference is that NT has supported these large files from the very beginning (1993), much earlier than most Unixes and close to a decade before Linux.
    • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:50PM (#9003516) Journal
      Unix systems have had a historical advantage in scientific computation. Netterfield mentioned that he had first used XForms, looked at gtk+, felt queasy and decided to use KDE instead.
      As Kst is primarily a plotter of data, his choice of graphics toolkit is of some importance.
    • Wrong, wrong, wrong.

      The point is that Linux comes with a compiler&tools which enables everybody to join the project, which is often a prerequesite for a free-of-charge project to become really good.

      So on the Win32 platform, this project would have remained a one-man-project, it would have never been made better by others and after a couple of years (when this one man would have moved on to something else or a replacement would appear or whatever) it would rot away and finally disapear.

  • by ZuperDee (161571) <zuperdee@yah o o . c om> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:09PM (#9003234) Homepage Journal
    Why didn't the article headline read, "KDE Konquers Astrophysicists with Kst?"

    On a more serious note: This question wouldn't arise if KDE people didn't insist on prefixing EVERYTHING with "K." Of course, same goes for GNOME folks prefixing everything with "G." Why is this necessary?
    • by ErichTheWebGuy (745925) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:12PM (#9003255) Homepage
      Why is this necessary?

      It's gnecessary kuz it's kool.
    • The same could be said for a lot of Windows applications using the Win prefix and Mac OS X apps using the i prefix.
    • by zapp (201236) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:37PM (#9003431)
      This has all been gone over before, but it isn't new to kde/gnome.

      X*, win* go back farther probably.

      I think it's both a style thing (recognizable 'gAIM, on that must be AIM for gnome'), and also it makes it easy to tell what works with what. xemacs clearly is the X version of emacs. winamp clearly doesn't work on linux or mac, and konquerer clearly doesn't work on gnome.
      • This has all been gone over before, but it isn't new to kde/gnome. X*, win* go back farther probably.
        The difference is that most of these groups are prepending the names with a letter or two, but one of these groups insists on changing C's to K's. I find the KDE approach far too 1337 for my tastes.
      • and also it makes it easy to tell what works with what. xemacs clearly is the X version of emacs.

        That's a perfect example of what is wrong with this approach. The difference between emacs and xemacs has nothing to do with X; yet everybody seems to think so. Both of them work fine under X. Xemacs just forked off ages ago because of disagreements with RMS.

      • There is (was?) a version of Winamp for the Mac. I'm not sure why it wasn't renamed.
    • by Azureflare (645778) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:46PM (#9003485)
      So we know easily what WM libraries a package requires without looking at the depends.

      Personally I don't like it when packages don't prepend their names with k or g if they are specifically for KDE or Gnome. It's annoying when you try to install it and it says it wants to install gnome libraries, or KDE libraries (whichever WM libraries you don't like installing, maybe both if you're limited on HD space)

      It's consistent, and it works. It may seem a bit lame sometimes, but it makes things really easy for me (And others).

      Also from an ease of use standpoint, it makes it easy to know what to expect from a package. "Oh, that has a k before it, that means I'll be seeing KDE themes on that app if I'm running XFce."

      Sure, we should probably have a unified theme so things are pretty seamless and you can't tell if something is for KDE or Gnome (or more specifically, using qt or gtk). But we're not there yet, and it would be really confusing if we didn't keep things the way they are.

      I think eventually a distro will successfully make it possible for all apps to look similar to each other in all WM, and I think it would be a good thing to do that.

      • It's annoying when you try to install it and it says it wants to install gnome libraries, or KDE libraries (whichever WM libraries you don't like installing, maybe both if you're limited on HD space)

        It does sound annoying to try to install an app only discover that it has dependencies you didn't know about. There are two obvious solutions to this:

        1. Apps should list all of their dependencies and you should carefully read that list before installing
        2. The name of the app should have everything it used crammed
      • So we know easily what WM libraries a package requires without looking at the depends...

        Jesus wept.

        I never thought I'd hear a rationalization for using Hungarian notation to name applications.
      • It's consistent, and it works. It may seem a bit lame sometimes, but it makes things really easy for me (And others).

        Never mind that it destroys the ability to quickly picks apps from a list, such as the KDE menu. You get listings like:

        • App
        • CD Player
        • Editor
        • GApp
        • GCD Player
        • Geditor
        • ... (23 things beginning with G)
        • GZokoban
        • JuK
        • KApp
        • KCD Player
        • Keditor
        • ... (147 things beginning with K)
        • KZokoban
        • Mozilla
        • XApp
        • XCD Player
        • Xemacs
        • ... (2 things beginning with X)
        • XZokoban
    • GNOME? Prefacing everything wih a 'G'? I think Anjuta, Abiword, Balsa, Epiphany, Evolution, File Roller, F-Spot, Inkscape, Mergeant, Nautilus, Rhythmbox, Totem, and XChat would take issue with that assertion.
    • On a more serious note: This question wouldn't arise if KDE people didn't insist on prefixing EVERYTHING with "K." Of course, same goes for GNOME folks prefixing everything with "G." Why is this necessary?

      Tradition.

      The C language doesn't have namespaces so you ran the risk of two (or more) libraries having the same name for a symbol. Of course, this would stop you from linking against both libraries. To avoid these so-called "conflicts" the library designers would prefix all their symbols with a sho

    • It is hardly necessary, it is however very, very Knecessary. Though I hardly kneeded to say so.
  • kst (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:12PM (#9003256)
    It looks good, but I'm skeptical about its usefulness for me. ROOT [root.cern.ch] already produces damn good output and fills most of my needs. And for everything else there's gnuplot. [gnuplot.info]

    But I will look at kst. If it's as good as they say it is, I may use it instead of gnuplot.
    • ROOT? (Score:3, Informative)

      by lightray (215185)
      You know all those "Segmentation Fault" errors that ROOT gives you?

      A real tool doesn't do that.

      It's really very cute how enamored particle physicists are by C++. It's very fitting it turns every software construct into something they're familiar with, a particle! er, object. Too bad they can't ditch the FORTRAN habits.

      "You can write bad FORTRAN in any language." - my advisor
    • Re:kst (Score:2, Informative)

      by drauh (524358)
      ugh. root is a 300 lb gorilla, and about as friendly: c++ is its scripting language. gnuplot is good, but you have to work hard to make pretty plots. also, it is missing a 'plot data as image' (i.e. a pixel or rectangle per point) feature. as someone else has mentioned above, mayavi is great.
    • Re:kst (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lust (14189)
      Don't forget Octave [octave.org], a Matlab-like but free data analysis/plotting program. It can directly run most of what you've already programmed for Matlab.
    • by justins (80659)
      I'm sure ROOT's other users would agree with you. All five of them.
  • by drsmack1 (698392) * on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:13PM (#9003262)
    We need to stop creating all of these astrophysics programs for Linux and develop the ones we have now!
    • Wow, drsmack1, I'd like to appologize on behalf of the moderators who were clearly drinking when the modded you.

      Folks: he was making a joke... you know "another window manager?!", etc., etc....

      The moderation flag you were looking for was "funny"
    • Honestly, I don't see a whole lot [freshmeat.net] of astrophysics packages out there. Three distinct projects, and one of them's just a code translator.

      (Please correct me if I'm wrong about this, IANAA yet)

      • there are plenty of open source professional packages out there... but you won't find them on freshmeat; in my experience they lurk on some random's homepage and you need to know people in the field where that is. they all do very specific tasks; and the grandparent was making a joke :-/
  • by Chemical Serenity (1324) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:15PM (#9003276) Homepage Journal
    ... to plot how quickly his site gets slashdotted. ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:16PM (#9003283)
    I thought they were looking to find the Grand Gnunified Theory.
  • by davidoff404 (764733) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:16PM (#9003288)
    It's interesting to see some airtime finally given to attitudes that academics have towards the GPL. In my time, I've often found that smaller research groups are more than willing to open-source their code once they're made aware that the GPL exists (you'd be surprised how many mid-career academics are unaware of its existence).

    On the flipside, I've seen many instances of arguments between research students and faculty about open-sourcing code. This is especially prevalent in areas like nanotech research, condensed matter, and opto/spin-electronics research groups. It seems to be a worrying trend that many students who are just beginning their postgrad studies are forced to sign NDAs before being allowed to code for their research group. Sometimes I think myself lucky that all I need is chalk and a blackboard...
    • For the uninformed ones like me, why exactly are you required to sign an NDA? Isn't science based on sharing information? What am I missing here? How can a researcher be told how to run their research? I don't understand where that power comes from.
      • Can't do research without money (for the most part). Can't get published unless you have credibility. Can't have credibility unless you have peer review. Can't have peer review unless you have peers. Can't have peers unless you're at a University from which you get funded.
        • You failed to connect this to the NDA being a requirement.
          • Because without it, your not doing the research. Essentially its because they said so, you can take it or leave it.
            • Who is "THEY"? The U.? The sponsor? Is there some pressure on the U.? What is the source of the pressure? Why is the U. interested in NDA? What if they don't get an NDA, what do they lose?

              Answer my question full heartedly please.
              • "THEY" are whomever "YOU" are dealing with. It may be the "U." if they are the "THEY" that wishes to keep the ownership and anything related to the project, or perhaps "THEY" refers to the sponsor if technically "YOU" are working for "THEY" through the "U." In short "THEY" is whomever is asking you to sign the "NDA."
                • Ok, please tell me, if you can, how does Philosophy of Science (and in particular, Ethics) deal with NDA's?

                  Isn't it a little screwy? Isn't the whole point of U. is to resist the political and monetary pressure so as to create a haven for research where thinkers are allowed and even encouraged to be free?

                  See, this goes back to recent posts I made. It looks to me like U.'s are going down the toylet. I'm always open for suggestions, information and other input (brick on the head, cluestick, etc.). So I a
              • A lot of Univerities count on their research to yield money in the future. They have contracts with Biotech companies etc. to patent, license the technologies that come out of the research done on campus.
                One summer I worked at a lab that had contrcts with about 3 biotech companies to test and develop new drugs. Most of the time I had no idea what the other people in the lab worked on. Protocols were kept secret, some people never presented their data and sometimes I had no idea what I was working on.
                F
              • What if they don't get an NDA, what do they lose?

                Well, besides the pressure for NDAs from commercial sponsors, Barth Netterfield in the interview mentioned some completely research-based pressures. He mentioned how some researchers feel themselves to be in competition with other researchers. This can give rise to fears such as losing publication/discovery credit, and losing priority of publication, e.g. because somebody else gets in first using tools/information acquired from their scientific competit
      • For the uninformed ones like me, why exactly are you required to sign an NDA?

        As just a single example, recently I spoke to the head of a research group about his policy on these matters. In this person's group, they deal primarily with the properties of subwavelength gold gratings. Now, this is rather a hot topic in optoelectronics at the moment and the techniques used to fabricate these gratings tend to be quite closely guarded secrets. Unsurprisingly, almost the entire process of fabrication is auto
        • To be quite honest, I doubt that this is terribly different from the situation in traditional software companies, who obviously want to protect their code. The main motivation in the academic environment, however, is that you don't want your techniques used by another research group when grants are so hard to come by these days. Again, I'm glad all I deal with is a blackboard.

          That's all well and good. So it seems academia is to be just another part of the corporate world. I'm just wondering about one sm
          • Openness in academia (Score:4, Informative)

            by baxissimo (135512) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:11AM (#9004210)
            People share their ideas and publish, because if they don't they don't get tenure or graduate or whatever. But there's often a big development investment involved in going from some paper published in a journal to working code. The published paper may give you the major differences between what they've done and the previous work, but most any important achievement builds on a bunch of prior work which is, say, contained in 5 other papers, which in turn were each based on 5 other papers each, and tracking all that down and getting it and translated into code can take a long time.

            So say I'm the guy who published the paper -- while you're spending all your time re-implementing my previous method, I've already gone on and developed another few enhancements or a whole new method, and gotten another paper or two out of it, while you're still trying to recreate what I did last year.

            So basically, just because the ideas in academia are basically open, that doesn't mean the implementations are. In fact, I've heard some math guys voice the opinion that releasing your source code is just a waste. It takes a significant time investment on your part to get it all packaged up, perhaps cleaning up the code some, and then to answer questions people have about it etc. And when it comes time for tenure review, they don't ask you how much source code you released. No, all that matters is how many journals you published in. So while you were busy cleaning up your source code for release, fixing non-critical bugs and adding non-essential features, you could have been working on the next publication instead.

            Of course a lot of researchers do go all the way with openness and release source. But I've seen plenty of both strategies.

            Another part of the equation is that Universities these days all want a piece of the action on anything invented within their walls. So they want you file for patents and such, and try to find people that will license those patents. And naturally a big cut of the licensing fees go to the Universtity. And then there's folks who dream of starting their own multi-million dollar spin-off technology company, so they don't want to let too many details about what they're doing to leak out until they've got all the patents lined up.

            • In fact, I've heard some math guys voice the opinion that releasing your source code is just a waste. It takes a significant time investment on your part to get it all packaged up, perhaps cleaning up the code some, and then to answer questions people have about it etc. And when it comes time for tenure review, they don't ask you how much source code you released.

              This makes absolute sense, if the goal in academia is the same as it is in corporate life: to make the most money and to be at the top of the f

            • And when it comes time for tenure review, they don't ask you how much source code you released. No, all that matters is how many journals you published in.

              Perhaps they should.

              Tenure review is meant to assess an acedemic's contribution. Why not include the amount of quality code published in that assessment?

              Putting it another way: why do we not publish code as well as explanations in the journals? Why isn't source code peer reviewed as part of the publishing and grant giving process?

              -- Jamie

          • How is this piffling little thing called science going to get done? It doesn't work too well when scientists can't disseminate their ideas.

            I think it depends on which areas of science you're looking at. Nano- and Microelectronics groups in universities tend to lease their IP rights to outside industry, or work alongside industry, once they've developed a useful process. As a result, they often tend to be more guarded about releasing code or details about fabrication techniques. The pressure to publish
        • This should be illegal. Universities are funded (for the most part) by the government.. the taxpayers. They have no right to make their research unavailable to the public that funds them. Research would go faster if information was shared, and as a member of the taxpaying public, that's what I care about, not which professor gets credit for it.
    • Most universities have the policy that on everything you write while you are paid by them, they have the copyright. That means: no GPL possible!
      • I don't recall the case name or anything right off-hand, but I know that at least in California, that was shot down by the state Supreme Court.
      • Well, leaving aside the fact that copyright for written works is a different matter from copyright on software, I don't believe this is true. Certainly, the copyright for any research papers, review articles, theses, written by faculty or students of the university where I work remains the property of the author.
    • I've seen many instances of arguments between research students and faculty about open-sourcing code.

      The greater problem, in my experience, has been a general lack of motivation or interest in publishing software at all. Often time software is just written as an in-house hack. Very little effort goes into generality, and even less frequently does someone go to the effort to package something up for distribution. Scientists are specialists in their particular field, and are usually not really aware of
    • I just wanted to post my thanks here to everyone who participated in this discussion. I feel like my mind has changed (I feel like I am becoming more jaded and more cynical) as a result of it. It is definitely food for thought. Thank you!
  • by jsweval (693114)
    Anyone else not able to read the instructions because its MIME type is text/html?
  • by Eberlin (570874) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:22PM (#9003322) Homepage
    Pst (pronounced pissed...or post, depending on who you ask) is a Python fork of the now-popular kst program. Instead of astrophysics, it endeavors to plot a graph of aggression among IT employees.

    Finding absolutely no funding from anyone, including government agencies, the project has taken a life of its own among overworked volunteer developers. These Pst programmers work dilligently on the code while concurrently providing enough test data to plot.

    Due to its popularity, a port using Microsoft Foundation Classes is in the works. Rumor has it that it will be called MFT (pronounced miffed). A C port is also being made -- and their sourceforge project is located at ifuckinhateusers.sourceforge.net
  • Ever since Igor (Score:4, Informative)

    by PaSTE (88128) <paste&mps,ohio-state,edu> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:23PM (#9003327) Homepage
    I used <a href="https://www.wavemetrics.com">Igor</a&g t; as an undergrad for most of my data plotting and graphing (physics), but the interface was not intuitive and without knowing the command-line language, navigating the menus took a very long time, even when you knew what you were looking for. Also, the price ($400 for the latest version) kept me away from using it off campus. Now I tend to stick to <a href="http://root.cern.ch/">ROOT</a> simply because its Cint interpreter is ideal for handling the massive (10^6 n-tuples) amount of data I look over, and because it's free. However, making advanced graphs and plots with ROOT requires a whomping manual and a fairly good grasp of C, as there are virtually no point-and-click features to it. I'm really glad another open-source data manipulation program is in the works, and that it can do the things ROOT can as easliy as Igor can without the emense price restrictions.
  • Grace (aka Ace/gr) (Score:4, Informative)

    by nsushkin (222407) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:24PM (#9003345)
    Why reinvent the wheel, what was wrong with using Grace [weizmann.ac.il].

    While I agree that the Motif app looks a little outdated, the app is free as in GPL and is really powerful in terms of features. For example, it allows scripting.

    • by Satai (111172) *
      I like the scripting in Grace, but it had quite a learning curve. I found that the python bindings [sourceforge.net] were useful. For scripted plots, supermongo [princeton.edu] (not free) is popular, but I think Grace is prettier.
    • by tskisner (775465)
      I'm one of the grad students that uses kst every day for analyzing data for the Boomerang experiment.

      Try using Grace to plot 1e6 data samples from 16 different sources in real time as it is acquired. Grace has some nice math features, but I believe that within the next year most of these will be surpassed by the features of kst.

      Sometimes it's easier to build a new house that renovate an old one ;-)
  • by greppling (601175) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:48PM (#9003501)
    From the tutorial [utoronto.ca]:

    Q: What does kst stand for?

    A: The 'k' in kst stands for the same thing as the K in KDE. (ie, the letter after J and before L). The 's' and the 't' have a similar explanation.

  • Gretl (Score:3, Informative)

    by Knights who say 'INT (708612) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:20PM (#9003674) Journal
    Another piece of software that became quite a hit in academia is Gretl, the GNU Econometrics, Time-series and regression library.

    It's a perfect clone of eViews, and it's free as in "just grab it"
  • OK, fine... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Spoing (152917)
    Now KDE has an astophysics program. Can it do colour-magnitude diagrams? Can it give real-time feedback from particle accelerators?

    You open source people have to cover this or Microsoft will walk all over you.

    (Satire, probably bad, noted here to CMA.)

  • Yawn, same old third for license issues, third for introduction... Leaves just a couple sentences to what would be most interesting to a geek: what is he doing with it.

    gondola pointing sensor time traces, and bolometer detector, sound more like something that a fiction author made up to this not an astro physicist, but reasonably smart. I'd be much more interested in his research and how the program works than all the boring details around the program and who uses it.

  • Gnuplot? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bsd4me (759597) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:26PM (#9004036)

    Can anyone comment on this compared with Gnuplot?

    LaTeX and Gnuplot got me through college without having to pay for laser printing papers (the laser printers on the unix machines were free, but the ones on the PCs and Macs were a nickel a page.).

  • Gastrophysics !!!

    (bleh, what else to do that write silly comments on Slashdot on a boring day like this...)
  • An extensive range of astronomy software is available through the UK's Starlink project [rl.ac.uk]
  • While it's great to see that there are all sorts of free tools and software libraries that handle various types scientific computation, visualization and analysis, it is disappointing that there doesn't seem to be a 'free', integrated tool that can compete with Mathematica [wolfram.com].

    While Wolfram and his team have done some truely amazing things and produced a product that is worthy of the $1880 price tag, I am astonished that the mathematic and scientific communities have not pooled their resrouces to produce somet

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.

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