Post linked with this MSO post

Graphing tool is very important for answering and asking some questions in Math. Graphing tool must include the function plotting and drawing some free shapes

Few examples where graphing was required :

This post is for further discussion on this and getting the comments and suggestions on this of Math.SE users especially. As CrisF ♦ asked to post that on Site Meta. .

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Alpha's nice, but in a pinch, I'd use FooPlot. $\endgroup$ May 6, 2013 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ Really? $\endgroup$ May 6, 2013 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ Why don't you just use Wolfram|Alpha? $\endgroup$
    – Red Banana
    May 7, 2013 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ @GustavoBandeira: Just trying to help the site grow. $\endgroup$
    – ABC
    May 7, 2013 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ There are some ways of ploting graphs with LaTeX, but I don't know about their implementation. $\endgroup$
    – Red Banana
    May 7, 2013 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ @GustavoBandeira: Same here. Don't know about it. :( $\endgroup$
    – ABC
    May 7, 2013 at 17:31

2 Answers 2


I don't see how this proposal could pass cost/benefit analysis. The costs:

  • development
  • documenting
  • debugging
  • updating as other parts of the site change
  • dealing with follow-up feature requests ("add implicit equation plotter"; "also need 3D plots"; "and they should be rotating", "select color for each curve", ad infinitum)


  • (?) the site duplicates some of the functionality of Sage, WolframAlpha, FooPlot, SciLab, etc.

I believe such a resource would consume a lot more from SE servers, your questions reminds me of one question I've found in the philosophy.SE meta asking about the implementation of $\LaTeX$ for them, the answer was as follows:

Currently, only a handful of sites on the Stack Exchange network support LaTeX notation. Implementing support has been requested for some of the other sites, namely Stack Overflow, but has been denied.

The official argument from the team is that supporting this is an extremely heavy dependency, and that parsing LaTeX equations is an extremely expensive operation on the client side.

Certainly for sites like Mathematics where it's absolutely necessary, the massive dependency is an easier pill to swallow. And on sites like Stack Overflow, where it would only be used in exceptionally rare cases, it's a much easier decision to deny the request to support it. But on this site, I think things get much trickier. While there will be some questions dealing with formal logic that will require such mathematical-style proofs, there are also a lot more questions that deal with more abstract concepts which words will express just fine.

If $\LaTeX$ was denied for them, I believe such tool for graphing would also be denied for us because it's possible to use an online alternative such as W|A, FooPlot or Geogebra for free and when it's not available, we can upload images.


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