SAGE math 3.4.1 released

April 27th, 2009 | Categories: math software, Open Source, sage interactions | Tags:

The latest version of the powerful free, open-source maths package, SAGE, was released last week.  Version 3.4.1 brings us a lot of new functionality compared to 3.4 and the SAGE team have prepared a detailed document showing us why the upgrade is worthwhile.

For example, the new complex_plot function looks fantastic.  From the documentation:

The function complex_plot() takes a complex function f(z) of one variable and plots output of the function over the specified xrange and yrange. The magnitude of the output is indicated by the brightness (with zero being black and infinity being white), while the argument is represented by the hue with red being positive real and increasing through orange, yellow, etc. as the argument increases.

sage: f(z) = z^5 + z - 1 + 1/z
sage: complex_plot(f, (-3, 3), (-3, 3))

Plot of a function of a complex variable in SAGE

Sage aims to become a ‘viable free open source alternative to Magma, Maple, Mathematica and Matlab’ and I think it is well on the way.  I become a little more impressed with it with every release and I am a hardcore Mathematica and MATLAB fan.

One major problem with it (IMHO at least) is that there is no native windows version which prevents a lot of casual users from trying it out.  Although you can get it working on Windows, it is far from ideal because you have to run a virtual machine image using VMWare player.  The hard-core techno geeks among you might well be thinking ‘So what?  Sounds easy enough.’ but it’s an extra level of complexity that casual users simply do not want to have to concern themselves with.  Of course there is also the issue of performance – emulating an entire machine to run a single application is hardly a good use of compute resources.

There is a good reason why SAGE doesn’t have a proper Windows version yet – it’s based upon a lot of component parts that don’t have Windows versions and someone has to port each and every one of them.  It’s going to be a lot of work but I think it will be worth it.

When the SAGE development team release a native Windows version of their software then I have no doubt that it will make a significant impact on the mathematical software scene – especially in education.  There will be nothing preventing every school and university in the world from having access to a world-class computer algebra system.

In an ideal world everyone would be running Linux but we don’t live in an ideal world so a Windows version of SAGE would be a step in the right direction.

Update: It turns out that a Windows port is being developed and something should be ready soon – Thanks to mvngu in the comments section for pointing this out. I should have done my research better!

  1. mvngu
    April 27th, 2009 at 14:34
    Reply | Quote | #1

    A native Windows port is in progress. You can see it at

  2. hp
    April 30th, 2009 at 06:11
    Reply | Quote | #2

    Hey Mike,
    do download the deb package or you got Sage from repo? Do you know how to upgrade Sage to 3.4? Mine is still 3.0. I think people at ubuntu seriously need to update repo more often.

  3. Mike Croucher
    May 4th, 2009 at 06:07
    Reply | Quote | #3

    Hi hp

    I download the Ubuntu tar.gz file from the SAGE website