I wrote about the Mathematics Add-in for MS Word and OneNote in February of 2011. As of December 2011, this remains one of my most frequently visited posts. Today’s post is prompted by a comment left there by Murray Bourne. Murray kindly informed me that Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 is available as a free standalone program, not just as an add-in for MS Word or OneNote. This is a powerful and versatile free tool for anyone learning or teaching maths, at the secondary or perhaps late middle school level.
Mathematics 4.0 can be installed and run on its own in Windows 7, Vista or XP. It can also be installed as an add-in that will run within MS Word 2010, MS OneNote 2010, or MS Word 2007. The standalone option means that the program can be used without having to purchase MS Word or OneNote. [The add-in can be downloaded HERE, and the standalone program HERE. If your computer system is 64-bit, you’ll need to download MSetup_x64.exe. If you have a 32-bit system, download MSetup_x86.exe.]
Mathematics 4.0 enables the user to “do” math on the computer. This is helpful for anyone who has difficulty using pencil and paper. In the context of UDL (Universal Design for Learning) the program is also helpful because it offers powerful visual alternatives for representing information to learners, as well as options for action and expression. For example, the graphing calculator can animate graphsof 2D and 3D equations. Below is a list of what Microsoft says the program will do:
The Microsoft Mathematics Add-in can help you with the following tasks:
- Compute standard mathematical functions, such as roots and logarithms
- Compute trigonometric functions, such as sine and cosine
- Find derivatives and integrals, limits, and sums and products of series
- Perform matrix operations, such as inverses, addition, and multiplication
- Perform operations on complex numbers
- Plot 2-D graphs in Cartesian and polar coordinates
- Plot 3-D graphs in Cartesian, cylindrical, and spherical coordinates
- Solve equations and inequalities
- Calculate statistical functions, such as mode and variance, on lists of numbers
- Factor polynomials or integers
- Simplify or expand algebraic expressions
My math skills are such that I am not competent to review Mathematics 4.0 properly. I refer you instead to the excellent review posted by Murray Bourne on his website, squareCircleZ. Keyboard shortcuts are available for Mathematics 4.0, but I don’t know if these are sufficient for use by someone who is blind. Mohan Manohar Mekar has written a post listing and describing the available keyboard commands. Embedded below is Microsoft’s promotional video.
Microsoft promotes Mathematics 4.0 as a teaching tool, and it can indeed be used to great effect by teachers of Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, Physics, or Chemistry. If I were teaching any of these subjects, I would want to use this program, via projector, to help explain, demonstrate, and review. Mathematics 4.0 is also an impressive learning tool for individual independent exploration and for completing assigned work. This is a program that can be used by learners in the classroom and at home.
Pictured below are the two main user interfaces of the program. I find it noteworthy that handwriting can be entered when the program is open on a tablet computer.