Euler v4.12- by Dr. Dirk Terrell

I have long touted OS/2 as a platform for scientists because of its robustness, and also because of the quality software available at little or no cost. Like most scientists whose work involves intensive computing, I have grown accustomed to using some flavor of Unix, so tools like vi, grep, etc. are invaluable. Because of the freely available OS/2 ports of almost all of these tools, my OS/2 command prompt is almost indistinguishable from the Unix machines I use.

Then there are gems like Euler for OS/2 by Dr. Rene Grothmann which is a powerful mathematics tool for doing numerical calculations with real and complex numbers, matrices, and intervals. Unlike more extensive tools like Maple or Mathematica, however, it is not a symbolic processor.

Installation

Installation of Euler amounts to unzipping the archive in a directory. There is no need for a fancy installation program because Euler consists of one executable and there are no dynamic link libraries to be installed. There are, of course, other files in the archive such as a good on-line help file (in both .INF and .HLP formats) and several sample files which bring you up to speed quickly on the syntax used to perform various functions. Euler uses a notebook type of interface, making it easy to save calculations for later use or to exchange with other users, and the archive includes a number of sample notebooks.

Interacting with Euler

Euler's interface consists of two windows, one for input and text output (GIF, 8.5k) and one for graphical output (GIF, 9k). The interface is clean and intuitive, with menu functions for loading and saving files, printing, and editing (cut and paste of both text and graphics). It also has extensive support for keyboard shortcuts, and even allows you to program function keys for your specific needs. My only complaint about the interface is its nonstandard use of the right mouse button to select text. Users of X-Windows will be familiar with this two-click method, but others will find it frustrating.

Euler sports many built-in functions for doing a wide variety of calculations. I was particularly impressed with its ability to perform calculations with matrices. The notation is compact and logical, and the expected functions are available such as inverse, transpose, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, LU-decomposition, etc. There are also several advanced functions that make it very easy to solve problems involving matrices such as least squares solutions. While there are too many built-in functions to list here, most of the ones you would expect are available including statistical functions (Mean and standard deviation are, surprisingly, not defined internally but are trivial to define on program startup), Fast Fourier Transform, interpolation, polynomial functions, and interval functions.

The ability to visualize results is often just as important as the ability to calculate them and Euler does a good job when it comes to creating and printing graphics. You have full control over the plot parameters such as axes, labels, colors, etc. and you can create both 2 and 3-dimensional plots. For 3-D functions you can create mesh, contour, wireframe, and density plots. A handy feature is the ability to plot graphs on top of another. The printed output of Euler is superb, and is certainly of publication quality.

Euler also has its own BASIC-like programming language so that you can extend its capabilities should the built-in functions be insufficient for your needs. The language constructs include loops and decision structures for building your own functions, and you have several debugging functions at your disposal. There are also low-level functions for reading and writing files to disk.

Conclusion

Euler is a great piece of software and is free for educational use. For noneducational use, an extremely reasonable registration of 70 DM (about US$45) is required.
 * Euler v4.12
by Dr. Rene Grothmann
download from Hobbes (ZIP, 465k)
Registration: US$45 (Free for educational users)
Dr. Dirk Terrell is an astronomer at the University of Florida specializing in interacting binary stars. His hobbies include cave diving, martial arts, painting and writing OS/2 software such as HTML Wizard.

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