Open main menu

Wikibooks β


This book shows how to use Maxima.


weaknesses of CAS/math softwareEdit

  • the limit of a discontinuous function at the point of discontinuity[1]
  • branch cuts[2]
  • zero-recognition
  • keeping track of domains of validity

How to use ?Edit

Ways to do it :

  • online , wothout installation
  • offline = after installation


  • gnuplot,
  • tex
    • texinfo
    • texi2html
    • texlive-latex-recommended
  • GNU autotools
    • automake 1.9
    • autoconf2.13
  • tk 8.4.
  • lisp
    • sbcl
  • libgmp3-dev
  • libreadline5-dev
  • libncurses5-dev
  • sharutils
  • libxmu-dev
  • libxaw7-dev
  • wxWidgets library for wxMaxima
    • libwxgtk3.0-dev
    • libwxbase3.0-dev
  • compiler is GNU g++ for wxWidgets library
  • build-essential
  • imagemagick
  • ibus-gtk
  • ibus-gtk3

How to install ?Edit

  • Download and install ready made Maxima deb packages
    • from Ubuntu repositories ( old versions )
    • from other sites[3]
  • Compile your own maxima package[4][5]
  • compile maxima from sources ( without creating deb packages )

Now the best is a git method

from Ubuntu repositoriesEdit

You can make use of :

  • Synaptic ( Graphical package manager)
  • apt-get.

In second case write in command line:[6]

sudo apt-get install maxima

This method can get old version which gets some trouble, like

 loadfile: failed to load /usr/share/maxima/5.37.2/share/draw/draw.lisp

Uninstall such Maxima version

 sudo apt-get remove maxima

from PPAEdit


From repositiories[7] by Istvan Balhota

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:blahota/wxmaxima
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install wxmaxima

From sourcesEdit

Before compilation, you should have all dependent packages


cd maxima
./bootstrap    # only if you downloaded the source code from cvs
./configure --enable-clisp   # or:   --enable-sbcl
make check
sudo make install
make clean

This procedure does not create a deb package.

using gitEdit


If you have git and SBCL then : [8]

  git clone git:// maxima
  cd maxima
  ./configure --with-sbcl

Now one can run it from inside the source directory.

cd maxima

The result :

Maxima branch_5_30_base_104_ged70fb2_dirty
using Lisp SBCL
Distributed under the GNU Public License. See the file COPYING.
Dedicated to the memory of William Schelter.
The function bug_report() provides bug reporting information.

Xmaxima can also be run :

cd ~/maxima

or bash file :


# save as a  in your home directory
# chmod +x m
# ./m

cd maxima

wxMaxima is not present now.

Where is Maxima after standard ( as above) installation ?

  locate maxima-local

example result :


Note that it is a different directory then after apt-get installation. One can have 2 ( or more ) versions of Maxima on the disk )


 git clone


  • Open a terminal
  • type : sudo apt-get install gdb
  • after gdb is installed type : gdb wxmaxima
  • run and wait until it crashes
  • and type : backtrace


"=" means syntactic equality. Check : is(equal(a,b))


Start Maxima and type the command:[9]


this will tell you the directory that is being used as your user directory.


Number typesEdit

binary numbersEdit

(%i1) ibase;
(%o1) 10
(%i2) obase;
(%o2) 10
(%i3) ibase:2;
(%o3) 2
(%i4) x=1001110;
(%o4) x=78

Complex numbersEdit


Principial value of argument of complex number in turns carg produces results in the range (-pi, pi] . It can be mapped to [0, 2*pi) by adding 2*pi to the negative values

 t:carg(z)/(2*%pi),  /* now in turns */
 if t<0 then t:t+1, /* map from (-1/2,1/2] to [0, 1) */

On can order list of complex points according to it's argument :

l2_ordered: sort(l2, lambda([z1,z2], is(carg(z1) < carg(z2))))$

Predicate functionsEdit

(%i1) is(0=0.0);
(%o1) false

Compare :

(%i1) a:0.0$
(%o2) true

List of predicate functions ( see p at the end ) :

  • abasep
  • alphacharp
  • alphanumericp
  • atom
  • bfloatp
  • blockmatrixp
  • cequal
  • cequalignore
  • cgreaterp
  • cgreaterpignore
  • charp
  • clessp
  • clesspignore
  • constantp
  • constituent
  • diagmatrixp
  • digitcharp
  • disjointp
  • elementp
  • emptyp
  • evenp
  • featurep
  • floatnump
  • if
  • integerp
  • intervalp
  • is
  • lcharp
  • listp
  • listp
  • lowercasep
  • mapatom
  • matrixp
  • matrixp
  • maybe
  • member
  • nonnegintegerp
  • nonscalarp
  • numberp
  • oddp
  • operatorp
  • ordergreatp
  • orderlessp
  • picture_equalp
  • picturep
  • poly_depends_p
  • poly_grobner_subsetp
  • polynomialp
  • prederror
  • primep
  • ratnump
  • ratp
  • scalarp
  • sequal
  • sequalignore
  • setequalp
  • setp
  • stringp
  • subsetp
  • subvarp
  • symbolp
  • symmetricp
  • taylorp
  • unknown
  • uppercasep
  • zeroequiv
  • zeromatrixp
  • zn_primroot_p

Number TheoryEdit

There are functions and operators useful with integer numbers

Elementary number theoryEdit

In Maxima there are some elementary functions like the factorial n! and the double factorial n!! defined as   where   is the greatest integer less than or equal to  


Some of the most important functions for integer numbers have to do with divisibility:

gcd, ifactor, mod, divisors... 

all of them well documented in help. you can view it with the '?' command.

Function ifactors takes positive integer and returns a list of pairs : prime factor and its exponent. For example :


It means that :  

Other FunctionsEdit

Continuus fractions :

(%i6) cfdisrep([1,1,1,1]);
(%o6) 1+1/(1+1/(1+1/1))
(%i7) float(%), numer;
(%o7) 1.666666666666667


For mathematical functions use always


instead of


There is only one small difference between them:

"The function definition operator. f(x_1, ..., x_n) := expr defines a function named f with arguments x_1, …, x_n and function body expr. := never evaluates the function body (unless explicitly evaluated by quote-quote )."

"Defines a function named f with arguments x_1, …, x_n and function body expr. define always evaluates its second argument (unless explicitly quoted). "[10]



In Maxima :

:lisp (setf *debugger-hook* nil)

Data structuresEdit

"Maxima's current array/matrix semantics are a mess, I must say, with at least four different kinds of object (hasharrays, explicit lists, explicit matrices, Lisp arrays) supporting subscripting with varying semantics. " [11]

"Maxima's concept of arrays, lists, and matrices is pretty confused, since various ideas have accreted in the many years of the project... Yes, this is a mess. Sorry about that. These are all interesting ideas, but there is no unifying framework. " [12]


Maxima has two array types :[13]

  • Undeclared arrays ( implemented as Lisp hash tables )
  • Declared arrays ( implemented as Lisp arrays )
    • created by the array function
    • created by the make_array function.

Category: Arrays :

  • array
  • arrayapply
  • arrayinfo
  • arraymake
  • arrays - global variable
  • fillarray
  • listarray
  • make_array
  • rearray
  • remarray
  • subvar
  • use_fast_arrays

See also :

  • array functions defined by := and define.

Undeclared arrayEdit

Assignment creates an undeclared array.

(%i1) c[99] : 789;
(%o1)                          789
(%i2) c[99];
(%o2)                          789
(%i3) c;
(%o3)                           c
(%i4) arrayinfo (c);
(%o4)                   [hashed, 1, [99]]
(%i5) listarray (c);
(%o5)                         [789]

"If the user assigns to a subscripted variable before declaring the corresponding array, an undeclared array is created. Undeclared arrays, otherwise known as hashed arrays (because hash coding is done on the subscripts), are more general than declared arrays. The user does not declare their maximum size, and they grow dynamically by hashing as more elements are assigned values. The subscripts of undeclared arrays need not even be numbers. However, unless an array is rather sparse, it is probably more efficient to declare it when possible than to leave it undeclared. " ( from Maxima CAS doc)

"created if one does :


(and b is not already an array, a list, or a matrix - if it were one of these an error would be caused since x+1 would not be a valid subscript for an art-q array, a list or a matrix).

Its indices (also known as keys) may be any object. It only takes one key at a time (b[x+1,u]:y would ignore the u). Referencing is done by b[x+1] ==> y^2. Of course the key may be a list, e.g.


would be valid. "( from Maxima CAS doc)

Declared arrayEdit

  • declare array ( give a name and allocate memmory)
  • fill array
  • process array

array functionEdit

Function: array (name, type, dim_1, …, dim_n)

Creates an n-dimensional array. Here :

  • type can be fixnum for integers of limited size or flonum for floating-point numbers
  • n may be less than or equal to 5. The subscripts for the i'th dimension are the integers running from 0 to dim_i.
(%i5) array(A,2,2);
(%o5)                                  A
(%i8) arrayinfo(A);
(%o8)                      [declared, 2, [2,2]]

Because subscripts of array A elements are goes from 0 to dim so array A has :

( dim_1 + 1) * (dim_2 + 1) = 3*3 = 9 


The array function can be used to transform an undeclared array into a declared array.

arraymake functionEdit

Function: arraymake (A, [i_1, …, i_n])

The result is an unevaluated array reference.

(%i12) arraymake(A,[3,3,3]);
(%o12)                    array_make(3, 3, 3)
                                           3, 3, 3
(%i13) arrayinfo(A);
       arrayinfo: A is not an array.

Function: make_arrayEdit

Function: make_array (type, dim_1, …, dim_n)

Creates and returns a Lisp array.

Type may be :

  • any
  • flonum
  • fixnum
  • hashed
  • functional.

There are n indices, and the i'th index runs from 0 to dim_i - 1.

The advantage of make_array over array is that the return value doesn't have a name, and once a pointer to it goes away, it will also go away. For example, if y: make_array (...) then y points to an object which takes up space, but after y: false, y no longer points to that object, so the object can be garbage collected.


(%i9) A : array_make(3,3,3);
(%o9)                         array_make(3, 3, 3)
(%i10) arrayinfo(A);
(%o10)                     [declared, 3, [3, 3, 3]]


Assignment to an element of a list.

(%i1) b : [1, 2, 3];
(%o1)                       [1, 2, 3]
(%i2) b[3] : 456;
(%o2)                          456
(%i3) b;
(%o3)                      [1, 2, 456]

(%i1) mylist : [[a,b],[c,d]];
(%o1) [[a, b], [c, d]]

Intresting examples by Burkhard Bunk : [14]

lst: [el1, el2, ...];         contruct list explicitly
lst[2];                       reference to element by index starting from 1
cons(expr, alist);            prepend expr to alist
endcons(expr, alist);         append expr to alist
append(list1, list2, ..);     merge lists
makelist(expr, i, i1, i2);    create list with control variable i
makelist(expr, x, xlist);     create list with x from another list     
length(alist);                returns #elements
map(fct, list);               evaluate a function of one argument
map(fct, list1, list2);       evaluate a function of two arguments

Category: Lists :

  • [
  • ]
  • append
  • assoc
  • cons
  • copylist
  • create_list
  • delete
  • eighth
  • endcons
  • fifth
  • first
  • flatten
  • fourth
  • fullsetify
  • join
  • last
  • length
  • listarith
  • listp
  • lmax
  • lmin
  • lreduce
  • makelist
  • member
  • ninth
  • permut
  • permutations
  • pop
  • push
  • random_permutation
  • rest
  • reverse
  • rreduce
  • second
  • setify
  • seventh
  • sixth
  • some
  • sort
  • sublist
  • sublist_indices
  • tenth
  • third
  • tree_reduce
  • xreduce


"In Maxima, a matrix is implemented as a nested list (namely a list of rows of the matrix)". E.g. :[15]

(($MATRIX) ((MLIST) 1 2 3) ((MLIST) 4 5 6))

Construction of matrices from nested lists :

(%i3) M:matrix([1,2,3],[4,5,6],[0,-1,-2]);
                                [ 1   2    3  ]
                                [             ]
(%o3)                           [ 4   5    6  ]
                                [             ]
                                [ 0  - 1  - 2 ]

Intresting examples by Burkhard Bunk : [16]

A: matrix([a, b, c], [d, e, f], [g, h, i]);     /* (3x3) matrix */
u: matrix([x, y, z]);                           /* row vector */
v: transpose(matrix([r, s, t]));                /* column vector */

Reference to elements etc:

u[1,2];                 /* second element of u */
v[2,1];                 /* second element of v */
A[2,3];   or  A[2][3];  /* (2,3) element */
A[2];                         /* second row of A */
transpose(transpose(A)[2]);   /* second column of A */

Element by element operations:

A + B;     
A - B;
A * B;      
A / B;
A ^ s;      
s ^ A;

Matrix operations :

A . B;                  /* matrix multiplication */
A ^^ s;                 /* matrix exponentiation (including inverse) */

Category: Matrices :[17]

  • addcol
  • addrow
  • adjoint
  • augcoefmatrix
  • cauchy_matrix
  • charpoly
  • coefmatrix
  • col
  • columnvector
  • covect
  • copymatrix
  • determinant
  • detout
  • diag
  • diagmatrix
  • doallmxops
  • domxexpt
  • domxmxops
  • domxnctimes
  • doscmxops
  • doscmxplus
  • echelon
  • eigen
  • ematrix
  • entermatrix
  • genmatrix
  • ident
  • invert
  • list_matrix_entries
  • lmxchar
  • matrix
  • matrix_element_add
  • matrix_element_mult
  • matrix_element_transpose
  • matrixmap
  • matrixp
  • mattrace
  • minor
  • ncharpoly
  • newdet
  • nonscalar
  • nonscalarp
  • permanent
  • rank
  • ratmx
  • row
  • scalarmatrixp
  • scalarp
  • setelmx
  • sparse
  • submatrix
  • tracematrix
  • transpose
  • triangularize
  • zeromatrix

Function: matrixEdit

Function: matrix (row_1, …, row_n)

Returns a rectangular matrix which has the rows row_1, …, row_n. Each row is a list of expressions. All rows must be the same length.

. operatorEdit

"The dot operator, for matrix (non-commutative) multiplication. When "." is used in this way, spaces should be left on both sides of it, e.g.

A . B

This distinguishes it plainly from a decimal point in a floating point number.

The operator . represents noncommutative multiplication and scalar product. When the operands are 1-column or 1-row matrices a and b, the expression a.b is equivalent to sum (a[i]*b[i], i, 1, length(a)). If a and b are not complex, this is the scalar product, also called the inner product or dot product, of a and b. The scalar product is defined as conjugate(a).b when a and b are complex; innerproduct in the eigen package provides the complex scalar product.

When the operands are more general matrices, the product is the matrix product a and b. The number of rows of b must equal the number of columns of a, and the result has number of rows equal to the number of rows of a and number of columns equal to the number of columns of b.

To distinguish . as an arithmetic operator from the decimal point in a floating point number, it may be necessary to leave spaces on either side. For example, 5.e3 is 5000.0 but 5 . e3 is 5 times e3.

There are several flags which govern the simplification of expressions involving ., namely dot0nscsimp, dot0simp, dot1simp, dotassoc, dotconstrules, dotdistrib, dotexptsimp, dotident, and dotscrules." ( from Maxima CAS doc)


Category: Vectors :

  • Vectors
  • eigen
  • express
  • nonscalar
  • nonscalarp
  • scalarp

Category: Package vect[18]

  • vect
  • scalefactors
  • vect_cross
  • vectorpotential
  • vectorsimp

Numerical methodsEdit

Newton methodEdit


  • newton for equation with function of one variable
  • mnewton is an implementation of Newton's method for solving nonlinear equations in one or more variables.


Maxima CAS code 
from /maxima/share/numeric/newton1.mac 
input : 
 exp  =  function of one variable, x
 var = variable 
 x0 = inital value of variable
 eps = 

The search begins with x = x_0 and proceeds until abs(expr) < eps (with expr evaluated at the current value of x). 

output : xn = an approximate solution of expr = 0 by Newton's method

    if abs(subst(xn,var,exp))<eps 
         then return(xn),


Boundaries of Components of Mandelbrot set by Newton method. Image and Maxima CAS code

One can use Newton method for solving systems of multiple nonlinear functions. It is implemented in mnewton function. See directory :


which uses linsolve_by_lu defined in :


See this image for more code.

(%i1) load("mnewton")$

(%i2) mnewton([x1+3*log(x1)-x2^2, 2*x1^2-x1*x2-5*x1+1],
              [x1, x2], [5, 5]);
(%o2) [[x1 = 3.756834008012769, x2 = 2.779849592817897]]
(%i3) mnewton([2*a^a-5],[a],[1]);
(%o3)             [[a = 1.70927556786144]]
(%i4) mnewton([2*3^u-v/u-5, u+2^v-4], [u, v], [2, 2]);
(%o4) [[u = 1.066618389595407, v = 1.552564766841786]]


Stack ( LIFO)Edit

Stack implementation using list:

/* create stack */
/* push on stack */
  stack:delete(last(stack),stack), /* pop from stack */
  disp(stack), /* display */
  if is(not emptyp(stack)) then go(loop)


Topologist's sine curve :

plot2d (sin(1/x), [x, 0, 1])$

Topologist's comb :

Topologist's comb
load(draw); /* by Mario Rodríguez Riotorto  */

 title     = "Topologist\\47s comb", /* Syntax for postscript enhanced option; character 47 = '  */
 xrange        = [0.0,1.2],
 yrange        = [0,1.2],
 file_name = "comb2",
 terminal      = svg,
 points_joined = impulses, /* vertical segments are drawn from points to the x-axis  */
 color         = "blue",
 points(makelist(1/x,x,1,1000),makelist(1,y,1,1000)) )$

Example programsEdit

  • Iteration of complex numbers, stack and drawing a list of points
Julia set using IIM
  • Iteration of complex numbers, comparing complex numbers, finding period of cycle
critical orbit with 3-period cycle
  • Drawing Julia set and critical orbit. Computing period
Drawing Julia set and critical orbit. Computing period
  • drawing curves in 2D plane
Mandelbrot lemniscates-image and source
  • drawing points
Drawing 2D points. Image and source code

See alsoEdit