1. Learn About Math
Whether you’re a student looking to improve your math skills or a parent trying to convince kids that math isn’t scary, Linux has you covered.
Fractions and percentages can be tricky, which is why KBruch uses colorful visuals to explain these concepts. There are two interface modes: Learning and Exercise, and the latter offers five types of exercises, including factorization, comparison, and conversion of fractions.
Kig is focused on geometry: it lets you draw two-dimensional objects and manipulate them to learn more about their properties. You can translate an object by a vector, construct sets of points (loci), and if you know Python, you can write your own scripts in Kig. Drawings can be exported as SVG or LaTeX files, and edited in other math software.
If you’re not a fan of KDE applications, you can try SMath Studio, a somewhat advanced app that’s often suggested as a MathCAD alternative. It can solve equations, perform integration and differentiation, work with matrices and vectors, draw function graphs, or just do basic calculations. The interface resembles a notebook page, and the Reference Book contains examples and explanations of various math problems.
2. Use Desktop Calculators
If you own a mobile phone, you’re always carrying a calculator. In the browser, you can rely onhandy online calculators and the irreplaceable Wolfram Alpha. There are plenty of calculators for Windows and OS X, but Linux isn’t losing the numbers game, either. We’ve already coveredSpeedcrunch; here are some more Linux calculators you should know about.
If you choose Qalculate, you’ll never need another calculator. Naturally, it performs basic operations, but features like support for Roman numerals, complex and infinite numbers, vectors, and matrices make Qalculate outstanding. It can solve equations, convert currencies and all SI units, import variables and constants, and even plot functions. On KDE, it integrates with the Krunner launcher, and there’s a separate version for GTK-based environments.
Galculator can be as simple or as complex as you want thanks to its interface modes (Basic, Scientific). There’s also Formula Entry mode that you can combine with the previous two, and Paper mode, which lets you input expressions as you would on paper. Apart from integrated functions and constants, you can define custom ones, as well as switch between number bases (decimal, binary…) and units of angular measurement (deg/rad/grad).
This calculator also offers several modes, two of which are worth mentioning. Financial Mode is fantastic for doing your taxes, because it comes with features like currency conversion, gross profit margins, and interest rates. Programming mode supports Boolean functions, logarithms and factorials, and converting between number bases. For other commonly used operations, switch to Advanced mode.
The default KDE calculator comes with four modes: Simple, Science (with exponentiation, factorials, and trigonometric functions), Statistic (with median and standard deviation), and Numeral System (lets you convert and calculate in binary, hexadecimal, and octal systems). KCalc is quite customizable, so you can set decimal precision, toggle digit grouping, and change font and colors. It includes many predefined constants, but you can also add your own.
Originally developed for elementary OS, NaSC is similar to Numi and Soulver for OS X in many ways. The interface is simple and uncluttered, but the remarkable feature is its approach to mathematical notation. NaSC can interpret natural language expressions, and you can type math problems just like you would write them in a notebook. It supports unit conversion and helps you learn more about math via its informative sidebar.
3. Do the Math in the Terminal
It wouldn’t be a complete list of Linux apps without some CLI tools. If bash is your shell of choice, you can perform some basic calculations with the expr command.
For more advanced operations, you can install wcalc, which supports unit conversion, comes with many built-in constants and functions, and lets you use multiple numeral systems. Wcalc features a command history that remembers all your operations, and you can find out more about the functions and constants it supports by typing \explain functionname.
Don’t feel like installing stuff? Most Linux distributions have bc (basic calculator) installed by default. It’s actually a programming language implemented as a calculator, but it has all the necessary features you’d expect. Bc supports logical operators, relational expressions, and statements, so you can use it to program your own functions.
4. Insert Formulas Into Documents
Many students prefer digital note-taking to pen and paper, and Linux accommodates that pretty well, even when it comes to math. You can take the advanced route with LaTeX, or write your homeworks in LibreOffice Math.
You can use it to insert formulas directly into a LibreOffice document, or run it as a standalone app and format formulas there. Creating formulas is easy: either choose elements from the sidebar, or type them directly into the command pane on the bottom. A reference list explains what each element does. You can adjust fonts and colors, and export files as MathML, XML, PDF, and some Microsoft-licensed formats.
Remember that LibreOffice Math doesn’t actually calculate anything; you just use it to make sure your formulas look good in documents.