By solving one tries to find a mathematical object that meets certain criteria. This chapter documents the functions that are available to help find solutions to specific types of problems.

Symbolic Solvers

Solve(eq, var)

solve an equation

Param eq

equation to solve

Param var

variable to solve for

This command tries to solve an equation. If {eq} does not contain the {==} operator, it is assumed that the user wants to solve \(eq == 0\). The result is a list of equations of the form {var == value}, each representing a solution of the given equation. The {Where} operator can be used to substitute this solution in another expression. If the given equation {eq} does not have any solutions, or if {Solve} is unable to find any, then an empty list is returned. The current implementation is far from perfect. In particular, the user should keep the following points in mind:

OldSolve(eq, var)

old version of {Solve}

Param eq

single identity equation

Param var

single variable

Param eqlist

list of identity equations

Param varlist

list of variables

This is an older version of {Solve}. It is retained for two reasons. The first one is philosophical: it is good to have multiple algorithms available. The second reason is more practical: the newer version cannot handle systems of equations, but {OldSolve} can. This command tries to solve one or more equations. Use the first form to solve a single equation and the second one for systems of equations. The first calling sequence solves the equation “eq” for the variable “var”. Use the {==} operator to form the equation. The value of “var” which satisfies the equation, is returned. Note that only one solution is found and returned. To solve a system of equations, the second form should be used. It solves the system of equations contained in the list “eqlist” for the variables appearing in the list “varlist”. A list of results is returned, and each result is a list containing the values of the variables in “varlist”. Again, at most a single solution is returned. The task of solving a single equation is simply delegated to {SuchThat}. Multiple equations are solved recursively: firstly, an equation is sought in which one of the variables occurs exactly once; then this equation is solved with {SuchThat}; and finally the solution is substituted in the other equations by {Eliminate} decreasing the number of equations by one. This suffices for all linear equations and a large group of simple nonlinear equations.


In> OldSolve(a+x*y==z,x)
Out> (z-a)/y;
In> OldSolve({a*x+y==0,x+z==0},{x,y})
Out> {{-z,z*a}};
This means that "x = (z-a)/y" is a solution of the first equation
and that "x = -z", "y = z*a" is a solution of the systems of
equations in the second command.
An example which {OldSolve} cannot solve:
In> OldSolve({x^2-x == y^2-y,x^2-x == y^3+y},{x,y});
Out> {};
SuchThat(expr, var)

special purpose solver

Param expr

expression to make zero

Param var

variable (or subexpression) to solve for

This functions tries to find a value of the variable “var” which makes the expression “expr” zero. It is also possible to pass a subexpression as “var”, in which case {SuchThat} will try to solve for that subexpression. Basically, only expressions in which “var” occurs only once are handled; in fact, {SuchThat} may even give wrong results if the variables occurs more than once. This is a consequence of the implementation, which repeatedly applies the inverse of the top function until the variable “var” is reached.


In> SuchThat(a+b*x, x)
Out> (-a)/b;
In> SuchThat(Cos(a)+Cos(b)^2, Cos(b))
Out> Cos(a)^(1/2);
In> A:=Expand(a*x+b*x+c, x)
Out> (a+b)*x+c;
In> SuchThat(A, x)
Out> (-c)/(a+b);
Eliminate(var, value, expr)

substitute and simplify

Param var

variable (or subexpression) to substitute

Param value

new value of “var”

Param expr

expression in which the substitution should take place

This function uses {Subst} to replace all instances of the variable (or subexpression) “var” in the expression “expr” with “value”, calls {Simplify} to simplify the resulting expression, and returns the result.


In> Subst(Cos(b), c) (Sin(a)+Cos(b)^2/c)
Out> Sin(a)+c^2/c;
In> Eliminate(Cos(b), c, Sin(a)+Cos(b)^2/c)
Out> Sin(a)+c;
PSolve(poly, var)

solve a polynomial equation

Param poly

a polynomial in “var”

Param var

a variable

This commands returns a list containing the roots of “poly”, considered as a polynomial in the variable “var”. If there is only one root, it is not returned as a one-entry list but just by itself. A double root occurs twice in the result, and similarly for roots of higher multiplicity. All polynomials of degree up to 4 are handled.


In> PSolve(b*x+a,x)
Out> -a/b;
In> PSolve(c*x^2+b*x+a,x)
Out> {(Sqrt(b^2-4*c*a)-b)/(2*c),(-(b+

See also

Solve(), Factor()

MatrixSolve(A, b)

solve a system of equations

Param A

coefficient matrix

Param b

row vector

{MatrixSolve} solves the matrix equations {A*x = b} using Gaussian Elimination with Backward substitution. If your matrix is triangular or diagonal, it will be recognized as such and a faster algorithm will be used.


In> A:={{2,4,-2,-2},{1,2,4,-3},{-3,-3,8,-2},{-1,1,6,-3}};
Out> {{2,4,-2,-2},{1,2,4,-3},{-3,-3,8,-2},{-1,1,6,-3}};
In> b:={-4,5,7,7};
Out> {-4,5,7,7};
In> MatrixSolve(A,b);
Out> {1,2,3,4};
Numeric solvers

Numeric Solvers

Newton(expr, var, initial, accuracy)

solve an equation numerically with Newton’s method

Param expr

an expression to find a zero for

Param var

free variable to adjust to find a zero

Param initial

initial value for “var” to use in the search

Param accuracy

minimum required accuracy of the result

Param min

minimum value for “var” to use in the search

Param max

maximum value for “var” to use in the search

This function tries to numerically find a zero of the expression {expr}, which should depend only on the variable {var}. It uses the value {initial} as an initial guess. The function will iterate using Newton’s method until it estimates that it has come within a distance {accuracy} of the correct solution, and then it will return its best guess. In particular, it may loop forever if the algorithm does not converge. When {min} and {max} are supplied, the Newton iteration takes them into account by returning {Fail} if it failed to find a root in the given range. Note this doesn’t mean there isn’t a root, just that this algorithm failed to find it due to the trial values going outside of the bounds.


In> Newton(Sin(x),x,3,0.0001)
Out> 3.1415926535;
In> Newton(x^2-1,x,2,0.0001,-5,5)
Out> 1;
In> Newton(x^2+1,x,2,0.0001,-5,5)
Out> Fail;

See also

Solve(), NewtonNum()


find the real roots of a polynomial

Param p

a polynomial in {x}

Return a list with the real roots of \(p\). It tries to find the real-valued roots, and thus requires numeric floating point calculations. The precision of the result can be improved by increasing the calculation precision.


In> p:=Expand((x+3.1)^5*(x-6.23))
Out> x^6+9.27*x^5-0.465*x^4-300.793*x^3-
In> FindRealRoots(p)
Out> {-3.1,6.23};

See also

SquareFree(), NumRealRoots(), MinimumBound(), MaximumBound(), Factor()


return the number of real roots of a polynomial

Param p

a polynomial in x

Returns the number of real roots of a polynomial \(p\). The polynomial must use the variable x and no other variables.


In> NumRealRoots(x^2-1)
Out> 2;
In> NumRealRoots(x^2+1)
Out> 0;

See also

FindRealRoots(), SquareFree(), MinimumBound(), MaximumBound(), Factor()


return lower bounds on the absolute values of real roots of a polynomial

Param p

a polynomial in \(x\)

Return minimum and maximum bounds for the absolute values of the real roots of a polynomial {p}. The polynomial has to be converted to one with rational coefficients first, and be made square-free. The polynomial must use the variable {x}.


In> p:=SquareFree(Rationalize((x-3.1)*(x+6.23)))
Out> (-40000*x^2-125200*x+772520)/870489;
In> MinimumBound(p)
Out> 5000000000/2275491039;
In> N(%)
Out> 2.1973279236;
In> MaximumBound(p)
Out> 10986639613/1250000000;
In> N(%)
Out> 8.7893116904;

Auxilliary Functions

expr Where x==v

substitute result into expression

Param expr

expression to evaluate

Param x

variable to set

Param v

value to substitute for variable

The operator Where() fills in values for variables, in its simplest form. It accepts sets of variable/value pairs defined as var1==val1 And var2==val2 And ... and fills in the corresponding values. Lists of value pairs are also possible, as: {var1==val1 And var2==val2, var1==val3 And var2==val4}. These values might be obtained through Solve().


In> x^2+y^2 Where x==2
Out> y^2+4;
In> x^2+y^2 Where x==2 And y==3
Out> 13;
In> x^2+y^2 Where {x==2 And y==3}
Out> {13};
In> x^2+y^2 Where {x==2 And y==3,x==4 And y==5}
Out> {13,41};

See also

Solve(), AddTo()

eq1 AddTo eq2

add an equation to a set of equations or set of set of equations

Param eq

(set of) set of equations

Given two (sets of) sets of equations, the command AddTo combines multiple sets of equations into one. A list {a,b} means that a is a solution, OR b is a solution. AddTo then acts as a AND operation: (a or b) and (c or d) => (a or b) Addto (c or d) => (a and c) or (a and d) or (b and c) or (b and d) This function is useful for adding an identity to an already existing set of equations. Suppose a solve command returned {a>=0 And x==a,a<0 And x== -a} from an expression x==Abs(a), then a new identity a==2 could be added as follows: In> a==2 AddTo {a>=0 And x==a,a<0 And x== -a} Out> {a==2 And a>=0 And x==a,a==2 And a<0 And x== -a}; Passing this set of set of identities back to solve, solve should recognize that the second one is not a possibility any more, since a==2 And a<0 can never be true at the same time.


In> {A==2,c==d} AddTo {b==3 And d==2}
Out> {A==2 And b==3 And d==2,c==d
And b==3 And d==2};
In> {A==2,c==d} AddTo {b==3, d==2}
Out> {A==2 And b==3,A==2 And d==2,c==d
And b==3,c==d And d==2};

See also

Where(), Solve()