David Eck, professor of mathematics and computer science, was recently featured on ZDNet.com for his development of a “cross-platform Java version called 3D-XplorMath-J.” According to the article, before Eck created his version, 3D-XplorMath “was a Macintosh-only application.”
Eck joined the Hobart and William Smith faculty in 1986. He holds a Ph.D. and master of arts from Brandeis University and a bachelor’s from Allentown.
ZDNet’s complete description of the application follows.
IMPORTANT NEWS!: Until recently, 3D-XplorMath was a Macintosh only application. However, Professor David Eck of Hobart and William Smith Colleges has created a cross-platform Java version called 3D-XplorMath-J. The latest development version of 3D-XplorMath-J is available for download at http://3D-XplorMath.org/j
3D-XplorMath is a highly interactive museum for exploring the visual aspects of the exciting and beautiful universe of mathematical objects and processes. It has been under continual development for over fifteen years by an international team of renowned mathematical researchers and educators, the 3DXM Consortium. It was originally developed for use in teaching and research, but recently the Consortium has been working hard to make it easy and enjoyable to use by anyone with mathematical curiosity and an appreciation for the visual and logical beauty of mathematics. This museum contains hundreds of well-known (and some not so well-known) mathematical objects, arranged logically into numerous “galleries”, referred to as Categories. These include: Surfaces, Planar Curves, Space Curves, Polyhedra, Conformal Maps, Dynamical Systems, Waves, and Fractals & Chaos.
3D objects can be viewed in strikingly realistic stereo. 3D-XplorMath differs from programs such as Mathematica, Maple, and Matlab that provide visualization back-ends for viewing objects, but require the user to first program the object and its visualization. 3D-XplorMath emphasizes ease of use and does not even require the user to have a pre-existing knowledge of the mathematical definition of an object in order to see it. Every mathematical object in its massive collection is not only pre-programmed, but also has carefully chosen default parameters and associated animations. Merely selecting a gallery object by its name from a menu presents an excellent initial view of the object. The user may then optionally use simple dialogs, controls, and menu choices to customize and animate this default view, perhaps after first learning about its background by choosing About This Object from the Documentation menu. Users can also create and animate new objects on their own by entering simple algebraic formulas into dialogs. All objects including user defined objects can be saved in several graphic formats, and animations can be saved as Quicktime movies.