I still recall the day when my friend Yossi came to school and showed off his brand new graphing calculator. I was stunned by how easy it was to plot complicated functions — meanwhile, the rest of us were still drawing them by hand on graph paper.
Today, I’m hoping to share that magical feeling with students around the world, with the introduction of graphing functionality on Google. Now you can plot mathematical functions right on the search result page. Just type in a function and you’ll see an interactive graph on the top of the search results page.
You can zoom in and out and pan across the plane to explore the function in more detail. You can also draw multiple functions by separating them with commas. This feature covers an extensive range of single variable functions including trigonometric, exponential, logarithmic and their compositions, and is available in modern browsers.
I hope students and math lovers around the world find this experience as magical as I found the graphing calculator so long ago.
Google says this is “showing some love to math lovers”, and I have to admit that this is super-handy, but it’s also a direct challenge to Wolfram Alpha. Alpha still offers a lot more higher-level math and engineering functionality (personal favorites include the Butterworth and Chebyshev filter worksheets), but it’s only a matter of time before Google implements stuff like polynomial root solving (which is basically already done here — if you can plot the function, you can find the roots), PDE’s, and statistical analysis. It will be interesting to see how Wolfram might up the ante.
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