In episode 22, we interviewed Robert Dodier from the Maxima project. After a brief introduction and a presentation of Robert’s current uses for Maxima he introduced what is Maxima and what can be achieved with it. We discussed some core concepts of Maxima’s language as well as how to access the documentation within the software to help users. Then discussion went on about the interesting origin story of Maxima and its origin as a tool for AI. We then talked about the current state of the project and how can someone provide help. As well as our usual quick questions, we had an interesting discussion about the social aspects within FLOSS and other self-organized projects.
Robert Dodier has a background in mathematics, computer science, and engineering. At present he’s writing software for a medical app for smart phones. In times past he has worked on machine learning, agent systems, and forecasting electrical demand, among other topics. He has a special interest in Bayesian inference and decision analysis.
Maxima is derived from the Macsyma system, developed at MIT in the years 1968 through 1982 as part of Project MAC. MIT turned over a copy of the Macsyma source code to the Department of Energy in 1982; that version is now known as DOE Macsyma. A copy of DOE Macsyma was maintained by Professor William F. Schelter of the University of Texas from 1982 until his death in 2001. In 1998, Schelter obtained permission from the Department of Energy to release the DOE Macsyma source code under the GNU Public License, and in 2000 he initiated the Maxima project at SourceForge to maintain and develop DOE Macsyma, now called Maxima.
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