Zelimir Fedoran
email zelimir.fedoran@gmail.com

Applying Natural Input to Symbolic Math Systems

Posted on
March 5th, 2010
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Working on a small team of two, Gerald Murray and I created the Natural Input Math Recognition System (NIMRS) with guidance from Andrew Petersen. It is a natural input system that provides access to matlab through a pen based input device. We developed this tool to provide a broad audience access to currently complex tools, such as matlab and maple, with minimal prior instruction. The system is connected to matlab to assist users in calculations and formulating their ideas. The system lowers complexity over conventional systems by providing an intuitive user interface and feedback.

Research Motivation

Many university students have access to computer algebra systems such as Mathematica and Maple. With labs in classes like calculus, students use these systems in addition to classroom learning. Students who are not proficient programmers find that learning these systems can be an additional burden. By decreasing the complexity of using these systems, we can make this form of learning less of a burden and more resourceful for the student. (note: interested readers are encouraged to view our research poster)


  • Users can write any fully formed expression they choose in the large drawing area. By flipping the pen over, it can be used like an eraser to make corrections quick and efficiently. Gestures can be used to scratch out something (delete it), or go back (undo).
  • By switching to the selection tool, users can easily select an equation by circling it. A highlighting tool is also available and works just like a real highlighter.
  • After an equation has been selected by the user with the selection tool, it can be recognized. This is where we convert ink to MathML which allows us to use it with a number of other tools.
  • Content that has been recognized can then be evaluated. This information is provided in the window to the right for easy lookup. Variables are stored so they can be used again without any tedious repetition.

Screen Shots