command factor

Asked by nathalierun on 2009-01-28


I am a french mathematic's teacher in an high school and I'm very found of your algebra little soft.
I have some questions.

Why the command factor doesn't work on a**2 - b**2 ?
the same with x**2 - 1 ?
neither with x**2 -6*x - 4 ?

I want to use mathomatic with my students for a class sequence of factorization.

Thanks a lot for your answer.

Nathalie CarriƩ

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Hi Nathalie,

I answered by email, but I will also answer here.
Thanks for the helpful question, I just realized the Mathomatic documentation doesn't explain this properly.
General factoring of polynomials is not implemented in Mathomatic, except for factoring polynomials with repeated or symbolic factors for simplification when using the simplify command.
The factor command only factors integers or factors out common sub-expressions, not polynomials.

I recommend some other software for your class. There is the commercial SpaceTime CAS and the free Maxima CAS, which may be suitable. The smaller and free Eigenmath program ( also factors polynomials like you want.

George Gesslein II

The excellent and full featured Maxima CAS is available at and a nice Graphical User Interface for Maxima is at
Both are free and available for many platforms.

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