Maxima is a fairly complete computer algebra system written in Lisp with an It is based on DOE-MACSYMA and licensed under the GPL free software license. his time and expert knowledge to keep the original DOE Macsyma code alive. A prototype “expert” system for the treatment of certain nonlinear filtering problems is described with illustrative examples. The system is written in MACSYMA. purpose is to provide a perspective on Macsyma so that, as new systems are gramming language or “rule-based expert system” technology, and demonstrates .

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InMacsyma macsgma licensed to Symbolics and became a commercial product. InSymbolics Macsyma was spun off to Macsyma, Inc. That version is still available for Microsoft ‘s Windows XP operating system. Under the name of Maximait was released under the GPL inand remains under active maintenance.

Martin front end, expression display, polynomial arithmetic and Joel Moses simplifier, indefinite integration: Bill Martin was in charge of the project untiland Moses ran it for the next epxert.

Macsyma was written in Maclispand was, in some cases, a key motivator for improving that dialect of Lisp in the areas of numerical computing, efficient compilation and language design.

Macsyma was one of the largest, if not the largest, Lisp programs of the time. MIT reluctantly licensed versions of VAX Macsyma from Berkeley to about 50 universities, starting with Caltech, under condition that the licenses would be revoked when negotiations for a proper license were complete.

Indeed, this happened when the negotiation with Symbolics see below was complete. UC Berkeley also brought up copies of Macsyma on Motorola -based systems, most notably Sun workstations. Symbolics suppressed those as well. At the same time Fateman macyma to change the now revoked temporary license for Macsyma into something more permanent. This was intended to protect the technology transfer to Symbolics. Such restrictions have been since lifted, or so.

Macsyma – Wikipedia

DOE Macsyma formed the basis for the much-later open source Maxima system. InMoses and Richard Pavellean MIT staff member and proponent of applying Macsyma to engineering and science, attempted to form a company to commercialize Macsyma.

Pavelle had written many scientific papers using Macsyma.

With the papers in hand, Pavelle and Moses approached several venture capital firms that showed interest in funding a Macsyma startup. It was evident that Symbolics was not so much interested in the code as in keeping Macsyma out of the software catalog of its competitor in the Lisp Machine business, LMI.

The business arrangement between Symbolics and Arthur D. However, problems at Symbolics over the sales of Macsyma on computers other than Symbolics’ eventually led to the decline of Macsyma sales. In the first half ofMacsyma revenues were lower than in the first half ofin a growing industry. Pavelle ran the Macsyma division at Symbolics until early In the sysyem half of Richard Petti became the manager of the Macsyma business to wxpert the sales and avoid conflict with employees in Symbolics.


Macsyma cut headcount but expanded its sales force and marketing, and focused its eexpert more on features that customers asked for.

Expert Systems/DENDRAL

InMacsyma annual revenues roughly doubled. The system was ported to Common Lisp by Kent M. Petti argued to Symbolics management that Macsyma was a ‘strategic business unit’ that should be funded based on its performance and potential, not based on the prospects of the main workstation business. However, Symbolics cut the Macsyma headcount after this period of sharp growth; Symbolics tried to use Macsyma as a tiny cash cow to fund the losses of the workstation business that was 30 times its size.

The greatest product weakness of Macsyma was its numerical analysis.

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Mastering symbolic math was a herculean task; but numerical capabilities were critical to get a piece of the much maxsyma engineering and lower-end scientific markets.

Lisp developers at Symbolics generally believed that numerical analysis was an old technology that was not important for Lisp applications, so they declined to invest in it. Double precision arithmetic in Macsyma on a PC version was about six times slower than Fortran.

Also Macsyma’s matrices were implemented as lists of lists, which cost another factor of perhaps in speed for key algorithms.

Macsyma did not have many of the basic algorithms of numerical linear algebra, such as LU decomposition. Earlier, Symbolics had killed its own project to build a Lisp compiler for standard computers to avoid competing with Lisp machine sales. This was a controversial move that, by some accounts, was undertaken without approval of senior management.

Symbolics also declined to cooperate with Sun to make Lisp available on Sun workstations for the same reason. Gold Hill Lisp was too unstable, and its weak architecture made it impossible for Gold Hill to eliminate the bugs.

This was a crucial failure for Macsyma. It meant that Macsyma could not respond on PCs when Mathematica appeared on Apple computers in mid However, the Macsyma staff was too small and lacked the mix of skills needed to add the kind of graphics, notebook interface and better numerics that Mathematica had.

Byit was clear to Petti that Symbolics would implode due to poor product strategy, and that it would take Macsyma with it. Macsyma could not assemble a buy-out team due to lack of cooperation from MIT. After keeping reasonably quiet since about the product issues, Petti tried in late to persuade Symbolics to adopt a software-only or board-level strategy; but the fourth president in four years would hear nothing of it.


In Petti left Symbolics for a start-up. Bymarket growth had slowed and the market had standardized on Mathematica and Maple. The competitors had development staffs that were times as large as that of Macsyma Inc. In early the company shipped Macsyma 2. On Wester’s large test of symbolic math, Macsyma 2. The development team, at this time, included Jeff Golden language, compiler, etc.

Bill Dubuque worked on integration, equation solving, database, and optimization. Christopher Stacy and David H. Other developers made major contributions in numerical analysis, graphics, and help systems. The company could not continue indefinitely to outperform staffs times as large and reverse the market momentum.

The holding company has not re-released or resold Macsyma, but Macsyma continues to be distributed by Symbolics for Microsoft Windows versions up to Windows XP. It is under active development, and can be compiled under several Common Lisp systems. Maxima does not include many of the numerous features added during the period of commercial development between —, but is a current, free, open codebase that includes numerous additional features, several alternative front ends, and works with a number of Common Lisp engines.

While this has resulted in some incompatibilities between Macsyma and Maxima, programs written in the Macsyma algebraic language can often be run, with only minor changes, in either system. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the original software and its commercial evolution. For the derived free software, see Maxima.

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. November Learn how and when to remove this template message. Milestones in Computer Algebra. See also Joel Moses”Macsyma: A personal history”, Journal of Symbolic Computation Archived from the original PDF on Statistics, Signal Processing, Space Missions. Journal of Symbolic Computation.

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