is now shipping for the traditional Mac operating system, and a Mac OS X version is due in the next month or so. The software enables you to create “notebooks” or workspaces that are live, dynamic, and interactive both in the classroom and on the Web via a free plug-in. It’s designed to help teachers and students make math and learn math on the Web via its interactive math system.
Originally LiveMath was called Theorist and was created just for the Mac. It’s now cross platform but still has a large Mac user base. Version 3.5 boasts new features including help screens and macros, according to Robert Curtis, managing partner of Theorist Interactive and the lead programmer of LiveMath.
LiveMath has a long and interesting history behind it. Expressionist, a WYSIWYG (what you see if what you get) mathematical expression editor, was first released in 1987 for the Mac. Work immediately began on Theorist, a WYSIWYG computer algebra system based upon the expressionist model, which was initially released in 1988 for the Mac. Both products were created by Allan Bonadio, who later founded Prescience Corporation of San Francisco.
Both products grew in popularity, and then were sold to Waterloo Maple (makers of the computer algebra system Maple) of Ontario, Canada, in 1993. Various work was done on building an interface between Theorist and Maple. The products were renamed (numerous times) to MathView, MathPlus, TheoristPro, and others.
“In 1999, we purchased the software line from Waterloo Maple, and formed Theorist Interactive with original creator Allan Bonadio returning to the product,” Curtis told MacCentral.
In June 2000, the product line renamed LiveMath Maker (Theorist). LiveMath Plug-In (MathView Internet), and MathEQ (Expressionist) were released in version 3.0. The names were changed yet again due to the previous owner’s failure in securing trademarks, Curtis said.
“In June 2001, I took over as lead programmer for the software line,” he added. “Version 3.5 of LiveMath Maker, LiveMath Plug-In, LiveMath ActiveX, and MathEQ Expression Editor were released in March. I create the software on the Mac, and we utilize our own cross-platform environment called OverLib, which provides for immediate cross-platform builds,” Curtis told MacCentral. “Currently, we have OverLib supporting Mac/OS9, Win/32, Linux/Redhat, Solaris/Sparc. We’re working on ports of OverLib for Mac/OSX, Win/COM, and Linux/PPC (YellowDog), all due out next month.”
He uses CodeWarrior 7. Theorist Interactive has their own translation system as part of OverLib that provides for 13 foreign languages to date, and growing, supported by a team of international distributors and power user translators.
Why develop on the Mac? They choose Macs because they’re Mac people at heart, Curtis said.
“I have been a Mac-only user since 1985, when it all started,” he added. “And the software was originally designed for Macintosh, and only with Mac in mind, so its fundamental ‘look and feel’ are very Mac like. We generally only worry about replicating the feature set we choose on a Mac, and getting those features over to Wintel and Unix. About the only exception has been our ActiveX/COM move on the Windows side, which is mandated to keep up with Microsoft’s ever-changing squeeze on the non-Microsoft developer.”
Typical customers for LiveMath are teachers, schools/colleges/universities, math and science students in high school and college, engineers and scientists, mathematicians, and academic publishers. With the free LiveMath Plug-In and LiveMath ActiveX, the product is also popular with distance education producers, developers, and providers.
“For example, LiveMath is the primary technology for Prentice-Hall/Pearson Education mathematics textbooks, Web sites, and CD-ROMs,” he added. “Prentice-Hall is one of the five major academic publishing houses in the world. We also intend over the next few months to diversify the product line into middle schools, high schools, and to resurrect the LiveMath Pro linkage to major computer algebra systems like Maple and Mathematica.”
The linkage won’t necessarily be in association with these companies, but will utilize their existing inter-application communication protocols, Curtis said. This is so that LiveMath users who additionally own these products will be able to interface the two products together, to amplify their computing experience, he added.
LiveMath Maker 3.5 (and MathEQ3.5) can be downloaded from the product Web site. System requirements are a Power Mac running Mac OS 7.5.3 or higher and at least 16 MB of RAM (32 MB is recommended). However, as we mentioned, a Mac OS X version is in the works. LiveMath 3.5 has a variety of pricing options. More info and a demo version can be found at the product Web site.