Two years ago, buried into some long calculations, I came with the idea of Math-o-mir. It would be an electronic sheet of paper where you can write your math faster than using a pencil, where you can simply copy and merge your equations and where you can easily make more room between lines for any additional math… But even more, I wanted a paper sheet that can make boring and straightforward stuff for you: substitute, make inversions, solve simple equations, extract variables etc.

All the time I had engineers on my mind – an engineer or engineering student making quick informal calculations in its math notebook.  Today, when I look at it, I see that the Math-o-mir is mostly used for equation typesetting and inserting equation images into formal documents. This makes me a bit sad (probably because I feel that this is because not many people use math as interest, but as obligation instead – I would love to see more people make informal math for their personal interest and curiosity).

Often users tell me that Math-o-mir is ‘different’, and they also tell me that it is ‘difficult to use’. The first statement is grounded intentionally, by design; the second statement is the logical consequence of the first one.  There are two reasons why Math-o-mir is different. First, obviously, I am not very happy with the software today – it is bloated and complex and has too many layers that make them slow.  Second, your PC input devices (mouse and keyboard) are not developed for math entry, but for text entry and point-and-click actions instead. I simply had to find means to enter math efficiently using these rough input devices.

I believe that, at least potentially if not otherwise, the Math-o-mir has the most efficient WYSIWYG math editor in the world. Of course, possessing an efficient editor was the only way it could be practical to its users.

The other goal, along with making an efficient formula editor, was implementing a symbolic calculator that will be able to help with boring, but necessary math steps. Again I opted for somewhat non-conventional implementation that seemed most suitable for such an informal tool as Math-o-mir is. In Math-o-mir you can, at any time, right-mouse-click at your equation(s) and Math-o-mir will suggest next step, transformation or solution. However, simple as it is, the Math-o-mir knows nothing about what you are really trying to do. You can never really instruct it to do anything specific. It can only suggest one simple boring step ahead, but you always must guide it with your strong hand.

Advertisements