Algebrator is a high school- and college-level software program sold to schools as well as directly to students. Originally developed (as Edusym) in 1986 and sold online by Softmath since 1999, Algebrator solves any math problem entered by a student user--ranging beyond algebra, despite the name, to include statistics, trigonometry and other subjects--and then shows the student the steps necessary to arrive at the solution, explaining those steps when prompted.
Because the product’s solutions and explanations are straight-forward, reviewers (and the company itself) point out that the product emphasizes education over entertainment, and are therefore only suitable for students that already have a basic grasp of the mathematical concepts and probably not for an intervention class with students who struggle significantly. Some also note that the product’s essential approach could be further strengthened if it walked students through problem-solving step by step, giving them feedback and guidance along the way as a teacher might. Friendlier explanations might help, too: as one reviewer noted, “Explanations are accurate, but tend to be somewhere between cryptic and terse.” But for an inexpensive product, the additional insight into homework problems might well be invaluable for some students.
As of late 2012, the company has sold 100,000 copies of Algebrator, the majority to individual students. The company also maintains a list of institutional users.
There is also a Spanish version available. Plans are underway with a major Israeli publisher to make the product available in Hebrew, along with putting the program online and on smartphones.
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