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About SageMath

William Stein started the SageMath project in 2004 and still leads the project. His frustration with proprietary mathematical software was his main motivation to create a viable open-source alternative. Just as Firefox is an alternative to Internet Explorer or OpenOffice.org is an alternative to Microsoft Office, SageMath is a comprehensive open source alternative to Magma, Maple, Mathematica, and Matlab.
SageMath consists of a collection of mathematical software and a core library bundling the functionality of these components into one consistent experience. Additionally to that it provides a framework to express mathematical calculations and a library of mathematical algorithms.
Mathematics is very old and encompasses many very different topics. It is hard to come up with one unique approach that suites beginners as well as experts. SageMath tries to solve this and "is doing remarkably well at keeping a balance between ease-of-use for beginners and high-end users." as David Kohel once said.
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Key Points

  1. SageMath aims to provide everything mathematicians, researchers and students need to do their calculations. The basic concept is to combine many established software packages under one umbrella. Even more than that, it provides powerful and unique algorithms in it's own library. SageMath's mission is to "create a viable free open source alternative to Magma, Maple, Mathematica and Matlab".
  2. Open Source: SageMath is built upon open-source software and it is fully open-source by itself. It is free to use worldwide for private, commercial, governmental, etc. use. Its license is the well known GPL and everyone is allowed to download it, install it on an unlimited number of computers and redistribute copies.
  3. Open Development: SageMath loves curious students and researchers to examine its source code and it is possible to understand how each calculation is done. SageMath fosters a community of developers and encourages them to take part in its development. A vital community of people not only using but also participating in development is key to a healthy ecosystem in the field of mathematical software. Additionally, SageMath utilizes the scientific method of peer-review to double check each line of new source code in addition to its strict testing policies to ensure a certain level of quality.
  4. Leverages Existing Software: SageMath does not reinvent the wheel for every known calculation. When possible, it uses existing tools to solve the problem and combine all of them in one unique interface. This concept not only exposes software packages to a wider audience, but also helps to increase the quality by submitting bugs upstream.
  5. SageMath uses Python as its "glue language" to interface with all its components. Python is also SageMaths primary interface language and hence SageMath does not invent a new programming language as other mathematical software systems do. Python is well established among research communities and makes interfacing even less complicated.
  6. Interface: There are three basic ways how the user can interact with SageMath: a web-interface, accessible through a web-browser while SageMath is running on your local machine or on a server, a rich command-line interface and as a Python library. Additionally, for example it is possible to embedd SageMath in LaTeX documents.

Quick Facts

First Release 2005 Latest version 6.5 released 2015-02-17
License: GPLv2+ Distributed as source and precompiled binary archive
> 300 Releases Accessed via command-line, Webbrowser (GUI) and as a library
> 180 Developers ~ 100 Components ~ 300 MB Source Code in total
> 100 papers cite, SageMath > 1700 subscribers sage-support > 1200 subscribers sage-devel
> 100,000 website visitors/month > 6,500 downloads/month > 40,000 users on sagenb.org

History

In 2005 William Stein released the first version of SageMath.
For a personal report what has motivated Prof. Stein to build SageMath read Mathematical Software and Me: A Very Personal Recollection (PDF).

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