Holy trinity of software. beware! Move over spreadsheet data base handler and word processor. Make room for the equation solver, the simulation/prediction program for those who live by the numbers.

What is an equation solver? Basically, it's: a software package that will do complex mathematical computations without being programmed by the user. Most solvers are more than just souped-up calculators. In addition to built-in trig functions, step functions, math routines, etc., they can plot calculation results and add explanatory text to equations and figures. They vary substantially, however, in the degree to which they perform these.

Equation solvers are not just slide rules with RAM They solve problems declaratively or procedurally. Some declarative solvers are capable of iteration, a procedure that involves maing educated guesses and solving equations repeatedly growing closer and closer to the actual solution with each series. Solvers usually will operate on simultaneous equations, and often on...

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