MAGMA [MAGMA] is a non-free6.2 software package ``designed to solve computationally hard problems in algebra, number theory, geometry and combinatorics''. The name ``magma'' is explained by another quote from the MAGMA documentation: ``The primary concept in the design of the Magma system is that of a `magma'. Following Bourbaki, a magma can be defined as a set with a law of composition.'' Never fear, you don't need to understand all of Bourbaki to be able to use some of the simpler commands in MAGMA!
The MAGMA project has been headed by John Cannon in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Sydney in Australia since the 1970's. It now has many contributors from all over the world (see the section ``Acknowledgements'' in the documentation). There is also a manual (both in latex and in html), the printed version of which is about 2500 pages. There are also two books provided free with MAGMA [Magma1] (186 pages), [Magma2] (854 pages).
Help is available ``on line'', like MAPLE, or better (in my opinion) in the form of indexed html pages. In fact, I usually have MAGMA and netscape with the MAGMA help pages running simultaneously. Many people find it useful to get in the habit of also opening separately a file, called mycommands.mag let's say, in an editor and either copy-and-paste commands into MAGMA or else entering them directly in the form magma mycommands.mag.
It will be assumed that you have MAGMA up and running.
It is also a good idea to have your browser (netscape,
for example) pointed to MAGMA's documentation
in html (which comes with MAGMA but is available online
Once you start MAGMA, you will see a banner like this:
Magma V2.7-2 Sun Sep 10 2000 09:16:39 on joynerwd [Seed = 2097073323] Type ? for help. Type <Ctrl>-D to quit.
From this you already know the date, that I am on a machine named joynerwd, and that I have started MAGMA, version 2.7.2.
I recommend you log every session. To do this, type
for example (we will be doing an example based on basic
commands in MAGMA, so the file name will be called
You don't type ``
>'', by the way, as that is simply the MAGMA
cursor beginning each line. Also, be sure you save the
log to a directory you have read-write access to.