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Free math graphing software

By Murray Bourne, 05 Oct 2010

I received a delightful mail from Morgan, a 95-year old reader. He said:

I'm interested in a 3D Contour Grapher. For personal use. I am 95.

I'm impressed with the number of retirees who maintain an interest in mathematics. The learners are the ones who will stay young.

Here are two recommendations, Morgan. The first is the easiest to use and most appropriate for you.

1. Winplot

Winplot by Richard Parris (deceased) of Philips Exeter Academy has been around for many years.

Download Winplot

The good: Winplot can plot a large range of function types, including explicit and implicit functions, vector fields, parametric equations and 3-D plots, as well as contour plots as you can see below. It comes in many language versions.

The bad: Windows only (no Mac or Linux versions).

winplot winplot

winplot graph winplot

2. Graphics Layout Engine

Graphics Layout Engine is an open source offering, but not for the faint-hearted.

The good: It produces nice clean graphs and can handle a wide range of function types, including vector fields, split functions and statistics. It can also do 3-D plots, fractals and electronic circuit diagrams. GLE can output to PDF, EPS, PS, SVG (scalable vector graphics), PNG and JPEG (for the Web).

The bad: It is a scripted language. That is, you need to write your script in a text editor to get your graphs - there is no simple graphical user interface. You may also need to download other required software (like Ghostscipt, which is an interpreter for PostScript and PDF).

GLE graph GLE graph

GLE graphGLE graph

Earlier articles

I wrote an earlier article Graphs using free math software which you may find interesting.

Also, GeoGebra remains a favorite. I wrote an introductory review here: GeoGebra math software - a review, which contains relevant links.

GeoGebra doesn't do contour plots (as far as I can work out), but it is a great piece of free graphing software.

So Morgan, I hope you find all that useful.

See the 12 Comments below.

12 Comments on “Free math graphing software”

  1. gasstationwithoutpumps says:

    I'm surprised that neither of your free graph software posts mentions gnuplot, which is a powerful program that has been around for a long time.

  2. Murray says:

    And there are many more than gnuplot! This will be a continuing series of articles when I get time to play with them.

    I'm currently evaluating some commercial products - report to come.

  3. mohammad says:

    Thank you very much for this usefull programs.

  4. sam shah says:

    Hi! I use winplot and I have my multivariable calculus students use it also. One of them has a mac, and we were able to get it working on her mac with this:


  5. Albert Villasenor says:

    How about a nice graphing software package for the Mac OS 10.4 and above?


  6. Murray says:

    Hi Albert. GeoGebra will work on Mac (but not iPhone/iPad) since it is java-based.

    UPDATE (Oct 2017: Geogebra is now more mobile friendly, however, file sizes are large and it takes overly long to load them.

  7. science and math says:

    Hello sir,
    Can you also please write about similar software in ubuntu?
    I can't find any good and simple graphing software for ubuntu.

  8. Murray says:

    I don't have much experience in Ubuntu OS.

    Anyone out there able to help?

  9. Des Fox says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am wondering if your software can be used to easily plot simple 3D Vectors?


    Des Fox

  10. zac says:

    @Des: Probably GeoGebra is the best option for you. Here's an example of the kinds of things you can do:

  11. Gary says:

    Check out the Web based Graph Magic linked at

  12. zac says:

    @Gary: Thanks for sharing!

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