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Mathematica and BattleBots

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the math-only-mostly-useless dept.

Toys 80

hesheboy writes "Wolfram.com has a story about building a battlebot with Mathematica: 'October 28, 2002--Looking for action with brains-over-brawn appeal? William McHargue, a freelance physicist and long-time Mathematica user, is one of many who find this combination in BattleBots, the new fighting-robot craze. "With BattleBots, one can be aggressive and yet nobody gets hurt," says McHargue. Recently, McHargue was featured in Mechanical Engineering magazine for work on Tesla's Tornado, his BattleBot.'"

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frost pist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571054)

Frost Pist beer [geocites.com] - Always ice brewed for a thick head.

While reading (5, Informative)

jukal (523582) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571061)

...remember that Wolfram.com [wolfram.com] the site on which the story resied == Mathematica. The company whose product [wolfram.com] Mathematica is. So, do not expect to see something unprejudiced. It's an interesting story anyway :)

Re:While reading (3, Insightful)

giminy (94188) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571068)

Chuckle. Was kind of wondering about that. It'd be like saying "Joe Smith, a long time Microsoft Word user, has just released his latest book."

People aren't interested in the tools used to make the product, unless they're the company that makes the tools and are making a press release :). TBH I'm surprised that hesheboy's email address isn't something@wolfram.com ;-).

Does it matter? (1)

strange_attract0r (618111) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571105)

Does it really matter what software he uses? I think that the robot itself is the only interesting thing, not which software he uses to model it... It's like me running a story on how I wrote my latest software project in C. wow

Re:While reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571624)

>It's an interesting story anyway

No it's not. That's why there's hardly any comments on this story. Even for a tech story, it's tedious.

Re:While reading (2)

jukal (523582) | more than 11 years ago | (#4572647)

No it's not. That's why there's hardly any comments on this story. Even for a tech story, it's tedious.

Heh, well..mmm..maybe I will have to admit that I just tried to be polite :))

hmmm (5, Interesting)

lingqi (577227) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571062)

Maybe he is onto something design-wise - but I don't think it's "interesting."

What I mean is (drawing on real-life examples) that while bacteria and viruses (yes it's spelled viruses, see here [dictionary.com]), I don't really think that's what we are looking for when doing battlebots.

for the longest time, rambots (bots that basically has a lot of power and a wedge shape) would win consistently. This guy's little contraption is not much different. the bot still depends on a very rudamentary skill to attack / defend. - the only difference is that he usese Mathematica for modelling vs. say, ProE (which I think would be better anyhow).

real brain over brawn would be, let's say, an (almost) universal manipulator, and enough sensors, reactory circuits, and capability that the robot will make reasonable decisions to duck, block, parry, jump, or just (calculatedly) take an attack, and then be able to exploit the other robot's weakness at the same time.

Re:hmmm (3, Interesting)

Nephrite (82592) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571214)

I agree mostly but you really describe the consequence of a real problem. The basic problem with the battlebots is that they're just too damn err... strong. Who needs that manipulator you describe if just hacking and bludgeoning is more effective? I would suggest introducing some restrictions on the bots' armor strength so that using brute force would damage the aggressor itself (if you use force too excessively of course), thus promoting use of more sophisticated devices and algorithms in the bot construction.

As to our 'bot-of-the-day' it is just another hard thing bashing on its opponent. Also, I just don't see anything special in using some math software for designing it. After all most engineers calculate their inventions before building them.

Missing the point. Re:hmmm (2, Interesting)

Dasein (6110) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571905)

I don't care about the software he uses. The design is neat. It's the first spinnerbot that I know of that spins the entire chassis instead of just shell.

To do this the wheels that the bot spins on have to brake at precise intervals to provide the ability to do anything but just sit there and spin. That means he probably has some form of onboard computing.

BattleBots is neat but one of the things that's always detracted from it in my mind is that the bots always seemed like big, strong, remote controlled cars with no intelligence. This seems like a small step towards intelligence and may actually raise the bar.

They want to kill us all (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571063)

An appeaser, said Churchill, feeds the crocodile in the hope that it will eat him last. But sometimes the croc eats him first anyway. For months, the US, Britain and Canada had warned the Indonesian government about terrorists operating within its borders. So had Singapore and Malaysia. President Megawati's administration responded by calling Washington anti-Muslim. The American ambassador was publicly denounced by her vice-president. Hassan Wirayuda, the foreign minister, said in February that the outside world's fears of Islamic terrorism in Indonesia were overblown and that in Jakarta 'we laugh at it'. Ha-ha. From government contacts to police indifference, the administration's strategy was to deny the crocodile existed and then quietly slip him the la carte menu.

Now, Indonesian stocks are down, the rupiah's in the toilet, the national carrier's flying empty, and the official tourism websites have switched to continuously updated info on dead tourists, safe in the knowledge that they're unlikely to be getting any new bookings from live ones. 'We're finished,' says the chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce. The members of the Maroubra Lions Rugby League Club, who visited Bali at this time every year, won't be back. On Saturday night after dinner, the blokes agreed to babysit while the wives went out dancing. They didn't return. On Monday, Craig Salvatori put his two young daughters back on the plane to Sydney and told reporters he had to stay to 'look for mummy'. He found her in the morgue a couple of hours later, so badly burned she was identifiable only by her jewellery. But not to worry, Mr Wirayuda: if the Western partygoers are fleeing, the high-rolling Islamofascists are here to stay. On Monday, for the first time, Mrs Megawati's government conceded that al-Qa'eda are operating inside the country.

The slaughter of hundreds is, relative to population, an Australian 9/11, with the same heart-rending details of people clawing desperately through the rubble in search of husbands, wives, children. When Osama's boys hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the root-cause crowd, after some pro forma regret about the loss of life, could barely conceal their admiration for the exquisite symbolism of the targets, the glittering monuments to American militarism and capitalism. The New Statesman dismissed the victims as Wall Street types who made the mistake of voting for Bush rather than Ralph Nader.

If you had to pick anywhere on the planet where Bush voters are thin on the ground, Bali's hard to beat. Lots of Aussie beach bums, Scandinavian backpackers, German stoners, braying English public-school types taking a year off to find themselves, but not many registered Republicans. This mass murder was clearly going to be harder to excuse, but the root-causers gamely rose to the occasion. The Sydney Morning Herald's Margo Kingston fretted over 'whether we've respected and nurtured the place we love to visit or colonised it with our wants... Maybe part of it is the lack of services for locals. A completely inadequate hospital, for instance, so graphically exposed in the aftermath of the horror. Some people -- foreigners like us, elite big-city Indonesians -- make their fortunes. Have residents lost their place, their power to define it? Did the big money fail to give enough back to the people who belong there, whose home it is?', etc., etc. Well, if the insensitivity of Western tourism is the root cause, Margo can relax: it's not gonna be a problem any more. Whether or not, as Margo would say, poverty breeds terrorism, in Indonesia last weekend's terrorism will certainly breed poverty.

While we're singing the old favourites, here's Bruce Haigh with a timeless classic. Mr Haigh was an Australian diplomat in Indonesia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and he's in no doubt as to why hundreds of his compatriots were blown up in Bali. As he told Australia's Nine Network, 'The root cause of this issue has been America's backing of Israel on Palestine.' You don't say. It may well be true that, for certain Muslims 'frustrated' by Washington's support for Israeli 'intransigence', blowing up Australians in Bali makes perfect sense. But, if even this most elastic of root causes can be stretched halfway around the globe to a place conspicuously lacking either Jews or Americans, then clearly it can apply to anyone or anything: my advice to Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness is to put down the Omagh bombing as an understandable reaction to decades of frustration at Washington's indulgence of the Zionist oppression of the Palestinian people. As the likes of Mr Haigh demonstrate every day, the more you insist the Islamist psychosis is a rational phenomenon to be accommodated, the more you risk sounding just as nutty as the terrorists.

On which subject, the Independent's Robert Fisk thinks the Aussies were targeted for a more specific reason -- blowback for being too cosy with the Great Satan: 'The French have already paid a price for their initial support for Mr Bush. The killing of 11 French submarine technicians in Karachi has been followed by the suicide attack on the French oil tanker Limburg off the coast of Yemen. Now, it seems, it is the turn of Australia...' And don't worry, there are plenty of others who'll be getting theirs any day now. Just in case al-Qa'eda had missed one or two, Fisk helpfully provides a useful list of legitimate targets: 'Belgium, which hosts Nato HQ; Canada, whose special forces have also been operating in Afghanistan; Ireland, which allows US military aircraft to refuel at Shannon...'. Blessings be upon you, Mister Robert, we had entirely forgot to add 'Kill the Irish' to our 'To Do' list.

I wonder if it was a cautious editor who added 'initial' to that French 'support for Mr Bush'. The French were supportive for about ten minutes after 11 September, but for most of the last year have been famously and publicly non-supportive: throughout the spring, their foreign minister, M. Vdrine, was deploring American 'simplisme' on a daily basis. The French veto is still Saddam's best shot at torpedoing any meaningful UN action on Iraq. If you were to pick only one Western nation not to blow up the oil tankers of, the French would be it.

But they got blown up anyway. And afterwards a spokesman for the Islamic Army of Aden said, 'We would have preferred to hit a US frigate, but no problem because they are all infidels.'

No problem. They are all infidels.

Unlike Mr Fisk, I don't have decades of expertise in the finer points of Islamic culture, so when people make certain statements and their acts conform to those statements I tend to take them at their word. As Hussein Massawi, former leader of Hezbollah, neatly put it, 'We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you.' The first choice of Islamists is to kill Americans and Jews, or best of all an American Jew -- like Daniel Pearl, the late Wall Street Journal reporter. Failing that, they're happy to kill Australians, Britons, Canadians, Swedes, Germans, as they did in Bali. We are all infidels.

Back in February, Fisk wrote a column headlined 'Please Release My Friend Daniel Pearl'. It followed a familiar line: please release Daniel, then you'll be able to tell your story, get your message out. Taking him hostage is 'an own goal of the worst kind', as it ensures he won't be able to get your message out, the message being -- Fisky presumed -- 'the suffering of tens of thousands of Afghan refugees', 'the plight of Pakistan's millions of poor', etc. Somehow the apologists keep missing the point: the story did get out; Pearl's severed head is the message. That's why they filmed the decapitation, released it on video, circulated it through the bazaars and madrasas and distributed it worldwide via the Internet. The message got out very effectively.

It's the same with Bali. As a way of making a point about Zionist occupation of the West Bank, it's a little convoluted, to say the least. If it's intended to warn America's allies off supporting Bush, it seems perverse and self-defeating to kill and maim large numbers of citizens from countries who haven't supported him. So, instead of trying to fit square pegs into Islamic crescents, why not take the event at face value? It's a mound of dead Australians and Scandinavians and the non-Islamic Indonesians of Bali: no problem, they're all infidels. A Bush-voting social conservative from Mississippi or a gay peacenik from Denmark, they're happy to kill both. If, as some of us maintain, the real 'root cause' of Islamofascism is Islam's difficulty coexisting with modernity, we shouldn't be surprised that an infidel-friendly, pluralist enclave in the world's largest Muslim country would be an abomination to the Islamists, and the perfect target.

In many ways, the sanest Muslims in the world today are those of South Asia. In the Middle East, they're mired in their own long-standing and mostly self-inflicted psychosis. In Europe, they've stood traditional immigration patterns on their head: the Continent's young Muslims are less assimilated than their parents and grandparents; instead of becoming more European, they're becoming more Islamist. So the challenge now is for the Wahhabists to co-opt the Asian Muslims as they have the Arab and European. They've had some success. Lee Kuan Yew has spoken of the change in Singapore's Muslims in recent decades: once relatively integrated, they now keep themselves to themselves, are stricter in their observances than they've ever been, and dress their womenfolk more severely. They've embarked on the same process observers have spotted from the Balkans to Pakistan: the radicalisation of traditional Muslim communities. If Islamofascists were to gain control of Indonesia, it wouldn't be a parochial, self-absorbed dictatorship like Suharto's, but a launch-pad for an Islamic superstate in the region.

The easiest way to understand is, again, to take them at their word. Bassam Tibi, a Muslim professor at Gttingen University in Germany, gave an interesting speech a few months after 11 September: 'Both sides should acknowledge candidly that although they might use identical terms these mean different things to each of them,' he said. 'The word "peace", for example, implies to a Muslim the extension of the Dar al-Islam -- or "House of Islam" -- to the entire world. This is completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought.' Only when the entire world is a Dar al-Islam will it be a Dar a-Salam, or 'House of Peace'. The objective isn't a self-governing Palestine but the death of the West.

On the face of it, that sounds crazy. But look at the gains they've made in the last quarter-century, since they overthrew America's closest ally in the Muslim world and established the first radical Islamic Republic in Iran. In the Middle East, Islamism has proved far more successful and exportable than Nasserite socialism ever was. It's brilliantly opportunist, slyly spotting the openings in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Chechnya, and now Indonesia. In the West, it's been able to rely on cultural squeamishness to advance its presence, ever since British police stood idly by while Muslim groups marched through the streets inciting their followers to murder Salman Rushdie. With the benefit of hindsight, Rushdie's boneheaded buddies in the literary world made a huge mistake in opposing the 'fatwa' on the grounds of the primacy of artistic freedom rather than as a defence of Western pluralism. Everyone was more naive back then.

But we shouldn't be now. As I said a few weeks ago, it's not a clash between civilisations but within them -- in the Muslim world, between what's left of moderate traditional Islam and an extreme strain of that faith that even many of their co-religionists have difficulty living with; and in the West between those who think this culture is worth defending and those who'd rather sleepwalk to national suicide while mumbling bromides about whether Western hedonism is to blame for 'lack of services for locals' in Bali. To read Robert Fisk and Margo Kingston is like watching a panto cast on drugs: No matter how often the baddies say, 'I'm behind you!', Robert and Margo reply, 'Oh, no, you're not!'

I began with a Churchill quote, so let me end with one: 'Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.' That's what happened after 11 September: the brief glimpse of the reality of the Islamist scheme was too much, and so we dusted ourselves off and retreated back to all the illusions, like the Oslo 'peace process'. That can't save us, and it certainly can't save Indonesia. And until we're prepared to identify the enemy and confront him as such, there will be more nights like last Saturday night, and more little girls like the Salvatoris', orphaned because their mum and her friends went dancing.

Re:They want to kill us all (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571146)

In two years, less than 3000 people died on 9/11, a few hundred died in Bali and a handful in other places.

7000 people die every year on the US highways. The Russian government gassed hundreds of her own citizens to death recently. Hundreds of thousands die of starvation and malaria every year.

Your pathetic "they want to kill us all" cry is the voice of a scared, well-off westerner who for the first time has been forced to look at the world as it is (and not just as it is depicted on your TV set) and has just come to realize that people actually die and suffer out there. Too bad your kind are still too self-centered and concentrated on your own pain that you don't realize the root cause of all the terrorist acts.

No, it's not Islam. It's poverty perpetrated by you and your fellow citizens - radicalism feeds on poverty and suffering. You made your bed, now you'll be sleeping in it.

Re:They want to kill us all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571823)

>Hundreds of thousands die of starvation and malaria every year.

Tens of millions, in fact. 60,000,000 -> 80,000,000, depending on which charity you listen to.

3000+ die every day in the US from obesity related illnesses.

The OP is just a twat with no clue - interrupted from his Nintendo playing and drug taking just long enough to go `hey, who turned the light on`, mumble a little racist rant - he's learn well from his two minutes hate - then return to his playing, utterly ignorant of the fact that his knee jerk reaction will ensure nothing changes, and that his children will be asking the same questions when they in turn are affected by their generations WTC in 20 years time. Only that one won't be limited to just a few thousand people.

Battlebots is cancelled (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571065)

Too bad battlebots got cancelled. I tried to search for the article but the damn search is down. But I'm sure everyone knows what I'm refering too

Re:Battlebots is cancelled (1)

saskboy (600063) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571076)

I too heard is has been canned. It seems strange, since it has replaced WWF as the dorm's TV of choice for the male-soap-opera.
Now what are they going to do? Build things with Mathematica?

Re:Battlebots is cancelled (2)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571184)

I too heard is has been canned. It seems strange, since it has replaced WWF as the dorm's TV of choice for the male-soap-opera. Now what are they going to do? Build things with Mathematica?

Don't know about Battlebots, but UK Robot Wars isn't looking like getting pulled any time soon. And even if it was, it's spawned a robot underground - there are plenty of unofficial events going on all the time. You don't need TV endorsement to make a hobby worthwhile :-)

More on BattleBot's Cancellation (1)

darkstar2a (546635) | more than 11 years ago | (#4572731)

A friend of mine is actually one of the BattleBot's judges and we where just discussing the show a couple weeks ago. (BTW, he also was accepted into Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted [spikeandmike.com] for a marionette play he wrote, check it out when it comes to your area)

BattleBot's rapid rise may actually be what helps kill it.

I remember back in 1994 when Robot Wars started here in San Francisco at Fort Mason, it was a big C.F.

I think it was in 1996(?) that they finally added the plexiglass barriers (only 6 feet or so, but it was better than the knee high barrier before that. The name changed sometime between 1997-1999, but I was not following it much at that time.

Comedy Central first filmed the June 2000 event (Season I) which was now a whole weekend and would become what we know today.

From the humble beginings Robot Wars grew in size, eventually came corporate sponsorship and with Comedy Central came advertisers.

Comedy Central played with time slots for quite some time, never quite gettng it right (I never understood the property being on that network anyway, but I wasn't complaining that I could see it) and they cancelled this year.

The worst part is that the event has grown so big, it can not support itself without the financial backing it received and it's doubtful the event will continue unless it gets picked up by another network (Hey, SciFi channel, hint hint). I'm bummed because I finally had my design for a bot, but I don't want to build it without a venue to play. Whats worse are the people who are already in construction of bots for the next event and those tweaking prior bots as well.

I'd also love to see season 5 with Gary Coleman. (Strange, I know, but I used to play Photon [a laser tag game] against Gary Colemna in Westminister, CA back in 1988).

Hrmm (5, Funny)

acehole (174372) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571066)

So when can I expect to hear the annoucement of a BattleBot weighing in at 3.141592653589793238462643383279 pounds?

Re:Hrmm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571093)

Da Cross Demon Shepherd is out to destroy all nativity scenes! Help him out by getting a free membership at
http://www.askheartbeat.com/cgibin/ultimatebb. cgi! !!

Re:Hrmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571166)

Erroneous value of PI. The 30th digit is followed by 502883197..., and hence you should have rounded it off to 3.14159265358979323846264338328 or added one more decimal to make it 3.1415926535897932384626433832795, which is much more accurate.

Best way to build a battle bot... (4, Funny)

the.jedi (212166) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571072)

.....Is to design an evolutionary program that would pick some basic designs (wedge, saw, spin, etc...) and have them do battle several thousand times then use natural selection to mix the properties of the most successful robots and greate a new generation of robots then repeat as many times as possible till you get a robot that is a highly evolved killing machine.

I don't think this would be incredibly hard to do. They I believe they already had a computer evolve a robot that could walk so now we need to evolve a robot that can Smash.Oh and i'd be coold if it could steal the defeated robot's parts and build onto itself. I suppose that would put it over the weight limitations though.

On second thought they'd probably just start hunting human beings and that wouldn't be cool at all. Guess I'll just put down the wratchet and the C compiler and goto bed.

Re:Best way to build a battle bot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571113)

Does your father know you're using his computer? I don't think he'd be too happy if he found out you were up past your bedtime. Now upstairs this minute and into bed! And oh yeah, stay outta my booze!

Re:Best way to build a battle bot... (1)

Orthanc_duo (452395) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571155)

why simulate the battle, hook it up to some manufacuturing machinery and play it out for real.. far more entertaining

Re:Best way to build a battle bot... (2)

NiftyNews (537829) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571485)

.....Is to design an evolutionary program that would pick some basic designs (wedge, saw, spin, etc...) and have them do battle several thousand times then use natural selection to mix the properties of the most successful robots and greate a new generation of robots then repeat as many times as possible till you get a robot that is a highly evolved killing machine. No, the best way to build a battlebot is to spend half your time building and half your time driving.

Let's face it, nearly every bot on that show could be twice as deadly if they just got someone talented enough to drive it and operate the weapons. It's like putting a $3000 stereo system in a $1000 car...all that work for nothing.

Re:Best way to build a battle bot... (2)

jonbrewer (11894) | more than 11 years ago | (#4572121)

No, the best way to build a battlebot is to spend half your time building and half your time driving.

This is precisely why I refuse to watch battlebots. As long as a human is driving it, it's nothing more than an RC car. A competition of autonomous robots, OTHO, I would be interested to see.

Re:Best way to build a battle bot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4572801)

I really don't understand why there is so much of a slashdot mentality that thinks that Battlebots would be oh so much more fun if it were laden with autonomous robots.

The problem is confusing 'fun' and 'interesting', I think. Sure, it's interesting and fascinating to watch an autonomous robot bump around for hours. But it's about as fun as watching grass grow.

And as entertaining as THAT sounds, I'll keep my remote controlled death sports, thank you very much.

Re:Best way to build a battle bot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4573182)

They tried it - The robots couldn't find each other, and the audience got bored with it. It was a couple years back, so it would probably work better now (partially based on Robot Sumo stuff). Actually, there's a competition right now that's promoting autonomous antweights (1lb), but the autonomous bots are at so much of a disadvantage that they have to be given a 40% weight advantage (and in this sport, weight is the defining factor, so that's a HUGE advantage, letting you know how much of a disadvantage autonomous is).

Re:Best way to build a battle bot... (2)

jonbrewer (11894) | more than 11 years ago | (#4582420)

Righto to both of you. Thanks. Yeah, I guess most autonomous robots are pretty boring. But still, I think one could make a spastic fighting bot that would work on its own. Especially given that it will be operating within a closed ring on a flat surface, and all it will have to do is shoot anything that moves... :-)

Re:Best way to build a battle bot... (1)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 11 years ago | (#4578155)

Actually, it's like investing $3000 in subs and amps for the stereo in a $1000 car, then forgetting that there's some very important sound in the "over 500 Hz" range (and that a vibrating trunk will overpower even the cleanest bass outside of that POS car, making the passers-by who are supposed to be impressed actually think that you only spent $50 on a crappy buzzy stereo).

How's that for a run-on sentence?

Re:Best way to build a battle bot... (1)

David Walker (618902) | more than 11 years ago | (#4574942)

Domon Kashu: I must defeat The Dark Gundam!

the.jedi: you what? hey! it's just for battle-bots! put that sword away!

Re:Best way to build a battle bot... (2)

CvD (94050) | more than 11 years ago | (#4576978)

Dude, this would require a heck of a lot of physics knowledge.

Its a cool idea, definately. But you have to program out the physics of *every* interchangable component, including the dynamic physics (what happens to objects when they are struck, moving, rolling, etc - even what happens to batteries when subjected to a certain amount of force in a particular direction). It would be an incredibly complex model that would need a lot of computing power.

Besides, since in BattleBots humans are controlling the robots, you would have to make an AI to act as a human in controlling the robot during the various evolutionary rounds. And once you have an AI that good, you might as well include it in the real robot. :-)



Any Free Alternative? (1)

ARtopia (312661) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571082)

I'm a physicist. I've used Mathematica. I think it's a great program.... But, I don't like Wolfram's politics. He and CalTech had their battle back in the day about the engine that makes symbolic math possible. Wolfram won, now he's running the big proprietary business.

Are there any nice Free or Open Source alternatives. I know that maple and matlab do this stuff to some extent, but I don't know their licenses. Seems like there should be a project. That software is expensive as crap.

Re:Any Free Alternative? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571112)


Use the right tool for the right job. Choosing software based on politics is like choosing a hammer for its smell.

Also, Mathematica does nothing for you that you couldn't do yourself with a pencil and some paper. Convenience costs money. If you can't afford it, you must not really need it.

Re:Any Free Alternative? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571129)

Fuck you troll. Choosing software based on politics is making a statement. (I don't like your policies, so I am voting with my feet) Just like only buying a Craftsman hammer is making a statement if you are "Joe Home Handyman". (I don't like generic hammers since they don't give me a free replacement in the event of damage to the tool) If there isn't a free alternative to Mathematica, there should be. All software should have a free alternative (both beer and speech). The problem with something like this is that it's not the most glamorous thing to write... so if nobody's done it, it's ony because it would suck to do it in the first place. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. And it doesn't mean that someone shouldn't ask for it in the first place. If *YOU* don't care about software politics, that's fine. But don't try to force your views on anyone else, that just puts you up there with other zealots on all sides.

Emotional reaction from geeks? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571138)

I am constantly amazed how the tech people, who are supposed to be able to rely on logic on important decisions, resort to the worst kind of emotional knee-jerk reactions in this matter.

I am a postdoc and run a research unit in a physics lab. If I hire someone and he starts giving me political bullshit about our exclusive use of Windows and Windows applications, he'd better be damn good at what he does or he'll be out in a minute for disrupting the peace in the group.

Get the right tool for the job. Period. We don't have time to teach new students to use Linux or other free software. In fact, we don't have any reason to do so. Create plots with SigmaPlot or Origin, use Matlab and Excel to analyse the data and write your reports and papers in Word so that the coauthors can read and modify your text without having to learn a programming language (TeX/LaTeX). And no, the export and import functions in StarOffice/OpenOffice do not work properly.

Re:Emotional reaction from geeks? (1)

hankwang (413283) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571245)

> Get the right tool for the job. Period.

Exactly. However, the right tool may depend on the person who does the job. A scientific environment, that owes is existence to the presense of people who want to try new ideas is no place for political debates on operating systems. If a scientific employee can produce more publications if does the data analysis and paper writing on a system that he is comfortable with, why would you deny him that right?

> write your reports and papers in Word so that the coauthors can read and modify your text

It might not at all be desirable to have co-authors modify the digital text of a manuscript. The iterative process of revising a manuscript becomes much more tedious if it is not clear where co-authors changed the text (and possibly introduce errors in an attempt to "improve" the readability).

Re:Emotional reaction from geeks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571269)

If a scientific employee can produce more publications if does the data analysis and paper writing on a system that he is comfortable with, why would you deny him that right?

Yes, if his improved personal productivity would result in lowered total productivity due to the problems with interoperability.

In my experience, if you have to shuffle the unfinished manuscript from one author to another - as you often have to do - you all have to use the same tools (and even the same program versions) to create the figures and the text. You can't have one person insisting on the use of LaTeX and Gnuplot when all the others are using Word and SigmaPlot.

It might not at all be desirable to have co-authors modify the digital text of a manuscript.

I actually agree with you to some extent.

In an ideal case you would have one primary author who prepares the entire manuscript. That is not, however, feasible when you're dealing with multiple experimental techniques or a combined theoretical/experimental paper.

The primary author may be an expert in the experimental techniques, for instance, but lacks knowledge in the theory part. Hence, the coauthors will have to write their parts of the text and prepare figures and send them to the master author who will embed them into the final manuscript. If different programs are used to prepare the different parts of the manuscript, it will all fall apart. Interoperability that almost works is not good enough. That's why I insist on everybody using Windows.

if it is not clear where co-authors changed the text

I use the "marker pen" function in Word to color the lines I have changed. Another author will do the same but with a different color. All the changes must be related to the content, not the readibility. The final text will always be prepared by the primary author who will consider the readibility aspect.

Re:Emotional reaction from geeks? (2)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 11 years ago | (#4572520)

It might not at all be desirable to have co-authors modify the digital text of a manuscript.

Which is not a problem. Distribute copies of the document for peer review, but keep the original in a private directory. If it's necessary, throw a password on it. You can either require a password to open the document, or you can require a password to permanently modify the document. That feature, called "Protect Document," lets reviewers add comments or even make changes to the text, but prevents unauthorized users from making permanent changes. Once the author gets the document back, he can review the comments and proposed changes. He gets to see who made each change and when. If he likes it, he can merge it into the document with one click.

Can you do that with a DVI file, or a PDF file? Not really. Word is a great tool for collaborative writing, despite what the knee-jerk anti-Microsoft zealots-- of which there are many, although you don't seem to be one yourself-- would rather think.

Re:Any Free Alternative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4572433)

If *YOU* don't care about software politics, that's fine. But don't try to force your views on anyone else, that just puts you up there with other zealots on all sides.

Obviously I'm not forcing my anything on anyone. I'm just telling you, the OP, and everybody else that choosing software based on politics is extremely stupid.

Choosing software based on politics is making a statement.

Yes. And that statement is, "I'm an idiot." I love freedom of speech, don't you?

Re:Any Free Alternative? (2)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 11 years ago | (#4572681)

Freedom of speech means you are free to voice your opinion without fear (you can shout "The King is a Fink" in public and not be arrested). So why are you an anonymous coward? Why should anyone take what you say seriously if you're afraid to admit you said it?

Re:Any Free Alternative? (1)

ARtopia (312661) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571226)

Choosing a hammer for its smell.

I think that's a bad argument. While it may be a valid argument for the one time project, it is not a valid argument when you are talking about science and building up a vast source of tools that can be used by all. I agree mathematica is nice, and convenient, and I don't have a problem with paying for the convenience. The problem is that it is proprietary software and there are arguments against that in general.

As for the whoever says I should write my papers in Word ... that's ludicrous. i'd spend the rest of my years clicking buttons in the equation editor, I couldn't put my stuff on xxx.lanl.gov, and I'd be looked at as a fool. Everyone in high energy physics uses unix basically. CERN supports gcc and g77. They wrote paw, it's under a modified GPL... you try and break out SigmaPlot and excel and you'll get laughed out of Geneva.

Re:Any Free Alternative? (2)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 11 years ago | (#4572566)

The problem is that it is proprietary software and there are arguments against that in general.

Yes... but those arguments are universally laughed at by those of us who understand that computers are tools to be used to accomplish productive work, and who believe that people who deliberately choose an inferior tool because it comes with source code deserve what they get.

The general arguments against proprietary software, most of which were advanced by Stallman, are all really unconvincing.

Everyone in high energy physics uses unix basically.

Everyone in medicine and biology uses Windows or Mac, in about a 50/50 (at most 60/40) fraction. If you try and break out Gnuplot and LaTeX in a medical or biological research facility and you'll probably be politely told to use tools that are compatible with what everybody else uses. If you then start talking about politics... well, see the above poster who talked about research assistants being fired for making a nuisance of themselves.

Re:Any Free Alternative? (2)

fferreres (525414) | more than 11 years ago | (#4572508)

Freedom has no price. The right tool for humanity is freedom. You can ignore that fact and freeride from the hard work lots of "irrational idiots" that are sacrificing themselves to provide you freedom.

Hey, this is not theoretical. The "right tool for the job" today may have a huge impact in what you can do in the future. Look at the .doc, .xls problem. The right tool for the job costs everyone in the world $400 to just be able to use the standard documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

But your tip is aprecciated, because there will always be people working for your freedom for free.

Re:Any Free Alternative? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571120)

If you want something like matlab that is open source (GPL) you can take a look at Octave (www.octave.org). Nothing symbolic in the basic design, but maybe some component that is symbolic and runs in octave? I hav'nt looked into that program that much.

Re:Any Free Alternative? (1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571140)

The problem with that program is that it plots data out using Gnuplot which quite frankly sucks in comparison to the plotting facilities in the real thing.

As hard as it may be to comprehend for some people (RMS in particular), sometimes it actually is worth paying for proprietary software. I have bought Intel C++ and Intel Fortran compilers, Matlab and Labview. Why? Because they completely outclass any open source alternatives. I have a job to do and I want to do it in the best possible way and I will buy whatever I have to to accomplish that goal.

Re:Any Free Alternative? DEATH! caliphate death! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4592930)

CLITORIS CHOPPING ADVOCATE! Long time no see Sudanese genital multilator supporter! ;p How are you October_69th? You piece of fucking loser shit. I know you and your types. The communist is back. I know you and how you want to purify yourself on the alter of intellectual debate. I know you think you are smarter and should think for everyone and democracy is bad and that we should atone. I know you do nothing and you are a professional academic and that is sadly a contradiction in terms. I know no one has ever benefited from your work, you don't have to prove yourself, and that you stand on the shoulder of many men with a crushing boot as do your 1st world friends. We all do. But somehow you get absolution from being evil, you are better; you are a deeper thinker and are somehow not a party to this evil dance of greed and decadence. You fucking anti right wing types, by no mean would I condone fascism, but ultra left wingers and ultra right wingers are religious zealots. They wash themselves of blame and use human sacrifice to prove they are right. You are a fear monger, and a naysayer. But Red October_30th, you never prove yourself. You hide in school, hiding from the proving grounds. You enjoy life; you expect to live 3 times longer than most people on earth. You think you want it equal for everyone one, but you will give up none of the accoutrements and amenities of the 1st world lifestyle, while you spit venomous remarks at your enemies the right wing establishment, but you theories about cabals of men raping the world, well, whatever you theorize about you are a party to so fuck off. You vile scum. I wanted to ask you how it feels to put the diapers back on a baby you just raped? Look at the communist left wing Bund, rules by intellectuals, and this lead to the power base of V I Lenin to crush the life out of hundreds of millions of people for almost a century. Real good left wing establishment, the soviet empire. You are such a clouded thinker. Democracy may not be the best, but mobocratic revolutions lead to thought policing, and capitalism breed a daily voting system that the stupid and smart all partake in, voting thousands of times a day with your wallet. And those who detract from such a system are generally inferior. They claim to not being able to get a break but they don't try. Like you don't 'October,' the pussy behind the veil. You don't like a system which makes you look pathetic, you never published, you don't have a patent, you never helped anyone, you only make enough to feed yourself and you greedy needs, you will never affect another man. And charity? I have taken many under my wing and show them how to fish metaphorically whenever I can, but your bourgeois Volvo driving liberal asshole don't want to take the time out of your day to teach a man to fish, you want the government to do it all for you, and raise your kids, and pay for your health while you suck down cigarettes and blame it on the government and evil business. Think of WW2, think of all the people who had no choice and died. 55 million people dies, and more would have had not the biggest evil capitalists come in a kicked fucking ass. And that we did. USSR, 11 million dead. Germany 4 million. Japan 1.4 million. The USA? 300,000 dead. We kick fucking ass. We saved you and your fucking little pit's neck. Now that the average age of the world is half that of how many years have passed since then most of you liberal idiots have forgotten that you and your Volvos and you free thinking and all that shit would be dead, and you'd either have grown up in a Hugo Boss Hitler youth suit or in a stupid piece of shit clothing made by the USSR with seams falling out, wishing for blue jeans.

I was in USSR in 1991. I doubt you've ever been, and even during glasnost/perestroika the place was a fucking dump. Go to Moscow now, the mafia does a better job than left wing commies. And that holds true. Left wing thinkers are lower than the mafia because they justify everything.

I can't believe you sit on your pulpit, unproven, unmarried, and not responsible for anyone but yourself allowed to masturbate yourself all day long, with the implements of greed. A full stomach, an easy non labor life, DVD players, a fucking computer and an internet connection. Then you come out and kick the balls of the very engine that provides everything that is real to you. Everything you look at is a product of entrepreneurship and genius - both. Sometimes, when a guy like Howard Hughes has both, the results are rather interesting, but most of the time the innovators and the entrepreneurs work hand in hand to deliver, something you were never a part of because you are inferior and you hide in academia unproven and spout your vicious epithets from your perch where you frothing rabid thoughtless speech wafts into the air largely unheard, your snarky self congratulating style is hated by all. I want to kick you in the testicle sack and sodomize you with a broom handle. I want you to feel the burning pain of something in your ass. That is how the 3rd world feels every day, but you claim to know nothing about that ass-pain. But you are a cause of it. You vote with your presence in a society. You are a part of the collective, and if you think those less fortunate consider your defense of them, they are too fucking STUPID to even differentiate and advocate from an evil oppressor. You mother-fuckers walk a thin line. The line is between stupidity and insanity.

So now the anti government anti free society lunatic and terrorist supporter comes to Slashdot to troll, to quip and chime in with his thought policing. From the Bund, the communist union left wing shop. Even Albert Einstein, god bless him, was a member of the communist party. He would have been a highly intelligent accomplished but completely unfit for public leadership - which is why he largely stayed out of politics. But without entrepreneurship and a free society, the money and equipment to verify his theories would have never come to pass. Why did my Einstein live in the USA, in Princeton NJ? Why not Russia? When did Russia EVER beat the west to proving and or utilizing Einstein's theories? Well, you see left wing death organizations like USSR and the EU, which is turning out to be a force of evil with their anti Turkish and Anti Israeli racist elitist attitude, is a similar fucking hole. A bunch of decadent, self fucking mental masturbatory mother fuckers Oedipus slime molds who sit around and spout trash while their own racist anti entrepreneur system crumbles and the third world is as pissed off as ever.

You god damn bitch, why do you come here and shit on these threads, you defecate and eructate forth such crap with your snarky one liners and you deprecated method of thinking. You communist friends are gone, the lost. Fucking Moscow is a better capitalist than you. And if you think that legislated mediocrity, world "equality (doesn't exist as all humans are equal in the eyes of law but in terms of aptitude and usefulness to others, there is no equality, it's a gigantic strata)" is something that people want, fuck you, no one wants it, they all want everything from themselves, as you do but you deny it. I hate you, and I want to kick your testicles.

The baby-fucking pedophile death bringing terrorist cunt mother fucker Oedipus Rexxed out communist idiot with his Volvo and his bike path is back. He is a rapist, a terrorist, and killer.

DO not trust this man, he has been known to say things that lead to the justification of rape, mass killings, thought policing, societal cleansing. He is a typical proto fascist/communist/dictator, and the far left and far right meet at the bottom of a circle where Red October_30th is positioned.

Re:Any Free Alternative? (0, Flamebait)

Xandis (90167) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571124)

ha ha!

That was funny. Do you also avoid reading articles from other scientists if you don't like their politics?

It is a shame that everyone is so shrill and carries their politics on their sleeve. I guess it is easier to be superficial than have depth these days since identifying with a group rather than being respected for who you are appears to be what matters.

By the way, crap usually isn't expensive (visit sourceforge for many examples)...good software though often is :)

Re:Any Free Alternative? (2)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 11 years ago | (#4572710)

By the way, crap usually isn't expensive
Have you priced Windows XP or SQL Server?

Re:Any Free Alternative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4576160)

You mean you paid for that stuff ?!?


Re:Any Free Alternative? (2)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 11 years ago | (#4576455)

Actually, no. I have two XP disks that were given to me. Haven't loaded either of them, and probably never will. I have no interest in running SQL Server, and with MySQL and PostgreSQL, no need.

Re:Any Free Alternative? (4, Informative)

krazyninja (447747) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571134)

You can try Scilab from here [inria.fr]. It is a free scientific computation tool, feel-like-matlab clone.

Re:Any Free Alternative? (1)

clone22 (252516) | more than 11 years ago | (#4573128)

MuPAD is a (somewhat) free CAS similar to Mathematica and Maple at http://www.mupad.de/

Re:Any Free Alternative? (1)

coleSLAW (23358) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571179)

Why don't you try the GNU Free Software Directory? Take a look, there's some math packages here [gnu.org] on it already!

Re:Any Free Alternative? (2, Interesting)

RazorJ_2000 (164431) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571423)

I've used all 4 main tools: Mathematica, Maple, Mathcad, and Matlab. All 4 have their various strengths and weaknesses. Overall, if I had to choose one as "the best or most comprehensive", I'd have to choose Mathematica. Now, if only symbolic math is important to you, then try Maple. It's a good product and strong with symbolic math. You can download a free demo from them.

Re:Any Free Alternative? (2)

e8johan (605347) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571486)

I do not know of any OSS 'symbolic' maths program out there, but there is a very competent matlab close called Octave (www.octave.org).

It uses the good old Fortran kick-ass linalg libraries for counting and gnuplot for the graphics.

Re:Any Free Alternative? Maxima (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571536)

There is one GPL'd CAS system which is pretty well developed. Maxima. It is a descendent of Macsyma, which is described as the older brother of Maple and Mathematica. Apparently Macsyma left MIT, became proprietary, then the corporation died. However, MIT sent one code base to DOEnergy, and that DOE code base was recovered and released under the GPL in 1999 (which is probably why most of us have not heard from it. Rather fascinating history (well, I think so).

Re:Any Free Alternative? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4572238)

Yacas [sourceforge.net] -- A symbolic computation engine similar to Mathematica or Maple. It has a Lisp core, with plenty of syntactic sugar. Released under the GPL.

Octave [octave.org] -- A damn fine piece of work for numerical computation. IMO, it beats MatLab any day. Released under the GPL.

Maxima [sourceforge.net] -- a descendant of Macsyma, which all True Math Geeks remember. It's a symbolic computation engine with a Lisp core, like Yacas. Released under the GPL.

JACAL [mit.edu] -- another symbolic computation engine with a Lisp core. Released under the GPL.

GAP [anu.edu.au] -- a system for doing abstract algebra and combinatorics. This is really only of interest to a limited subset of mathematicians. However, it is incredibly good at doing what it does. GAP is under its own license, which I'm fairly certain would classify as free to RMS.

There are many others, but these are the most mature that I've dealt with. If you're looking for a pretty front-end, Maxima has one, there's one for Octave called G-Octave [kstraight.net] (uses Gnome), and there's one for GAP called XGAP [anu.edu.au]. None of them match the purtiness of Mathematica or Maple, though. There is TeXmacs [texmacs.org], a rather impressive TeX-ish WYSIWYG. With some effort, you can make it serve as an input/output mechanism for any CAS. However, I recommend against using it for its intended purpose as, although its rendering is very impressive, it is a big step backwards for structured documents.

Free Askheartbeat Forum Membership! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571084)

Through the end of October!
http://www.askheartbeat.com/cgibin/ultim atebb.cgi

In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571136)

Looking for action with brains-over-brawn appeal? Slash A. Bot, a career Open Source advocate and long-time Linux user, is one of many who find this combination in Slashdot, the new trolling craze. "On Slashdot, one can be aggressive and yet nobody gets hurt," says McHargue. Recently, Mr. Bot was featured in Geeks magazine for work on Tesla's Trolling Tornado, his BattleBot Linux Distribution.'

Legal question on mathematica errors ? (3, Interesting)

krazyninja (447747) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571139)

...BattleBots safety regulations required him to perform an analysis to prove that the laser would not harm anyone viewing the fight. McHargue performed the calculations for this analysis and typeset the report using Mathematica....
If the rules are so strict, this raises a legal question for most mathematical software. Consider this scenario: Due to a bug (which could have been accidental), mathematica reports an "unsafe" value to a "safe" value.
2. McHargue uses this unsafe laser in his bot.
3. Somebody gets hurt by viewing his fight.

Legally who is responsible? Wolfram? McHargue? The organisers? What???

Re:Legal question on mathematica errors ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571149)

Legally who is responsible? Wolfram? McHargue? The organisers? What???

I'd say it's the spectator. Who told him/her to go and watch the show? People should take responsibility for their own actions and settle disputes themselves - not always just run off to the people how have the biggest stick (the "justice" system) crying "I'll sue you".

Sharks with frikkin lasers on their heads..... (1)

Chiggy_Von_Richtoffe (565992) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571330)

> Please do not look into laser with remaining good eye.

~some things just have to be said.... this just might not be one of them.

Re:Legal question on mathematica errors ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571380)

Who is responsible? Easy. The person or organization with the most money.

Re:Legal question on mathematica errors ? (1)

Calrathan (114381) | more than 11 years ago | (#4572552)

You can be sure that the software license for Mathematica contains a limitation of liability clause, indicating that the results should NOT be implicitly trusted for calculations where saftey is a concern. It's boilerplate on pretty much any software license.

I would also assume that the battlebots organizers would be the ones held liable, which is why they requested the documentation in the first place. If someone sues them for damaged eyes because of the laser use, they have this document to show that they had every reason to believe it was safe, and they were not negligent in assuring audience saftey.

A test reply (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571177)

I know the ping time to the sun and I know how to turn it on

Re:A test reply (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571432)

The ping time to the sun isn't what concerns me. It's how many hops that I need to traverse. Now that's interesting.

Oh yeah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571183)

The bouy is falling astern. Pling Pliing Plaaang
Plooong Plooooong Pluuuuuuung

Slashdot is (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571186)

my own da ta da personal da ta da-ta playgound da ta da da-ta

why not MEL bots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4571420)

www.melbotwars.com [melbotwars.com]

Can be used with the FREE Maya PLE

"MelBotWars is a real-time dynamics competition involving autonomous virtual robots that fight each other using rigidBody dynamics in Maya."

It's developed by the guys from ILM

JonKatzBot? (1)

sfeinstein (442310) | more than 11 years ago | (#4571914)

"In the BattleBox, Tesla's Tornado is a 117.9-pound block of spinning, smashing steel"

Anyone know how much Katz weighs? If it is more than 117.9 pounds, just imagine the possibilities!

It shouldn't be too hard to retrofit him with the appropriate wheels and circuitry. Just imagine the possibilities of a spinning, smashing Jon Katz!

(woah...and what if we made a Beowulf cluster of 'em)

One point the article missed... (1)

duck_prime (585628) | more than 11 years ago | (#4572386)

Is that once the robot's unconquerable might is proven in Mathematica, it becomes unnecessary to actually build the device.

"An excercise for the student", I believe they call it. ;)

Alternatives (1)

Craig Shergold (19756) | more than 11 years ago | (#4573281)

I recently read Wolfram's book, and was most frustrated by the way that it is tied so closely to Mathematica. Mathematica is a very impressive, very important analysis tool, and is REALLY FSCKING EXPENSIVE.

Oh, by the way it was the New Kind of Science book, not the Mathematica book that I read ;)

At any rate, I found some cool analysis tools that people should check out as alternatives to Mathematica for analysis and visualization of everything from battlebots to cellular automata. Without further ado:

  1. PDL [perl.org]
  2. R [r-project.org]
  3. PGPlot [caltech.edu]
  4. GRASS [ibiblio.org]
(just to name a few)

PDL is the most directly analagous to Mathematica or Matlab. R is, of course, like S/S+. PGPlot is for visualization. Grass is mostly for geostatistics/GIS. But it's cool enough to throw in the mix.

Anyhow, hope this helps someone out. Go forth and make a battlebot.

The book includes a CD with Mathematica (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4576968)

at least an intro version, that lets you play with simple problems dealt with in the book

Oh, nice advertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4575958)

Wow! Can I send Slashdot a press release too?

Botbattle (1)

c0dedude (587568) | more than 11 years ago | (#4576172)

If you're looking for a BattleBots for the masses, head over to Botbattle [botbattle.com] and try it. You program a bot in a basic-like language and watch it fight. It's kind of cool.

Semi-related thing. (2)

NFW (560362) | more than 11 years ago | (#4576240)

Click the link in my signature if you're interseted in a free program that lets you design and play with virtual radio-controlled toys. I hesitate to use the word 'robot' as the control system language isn't expressive enough for much more than joystick control of walking critters, but it's kinda fun.

An open-source multiuser "arena" runtime is only a matter of time.

Last Post! (1)

alpg (613466) | more than 11 years ago | (#4670030)

"I love Saturday morning cartoons, what classic humour! This is what
entertainment is all about ... Idiots, explosives and falling anvils."
-- Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson

- this post brought to you by the Automated Last Post Generator...
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