Software-Dept of Physics - Carnegie Mellon University

Physics Department Computing Facility: Software

Software in the Physics Department Computing Facility that may be of general interest to physics users is described here. Certain programs are in a special Tools directory on Andrew. See below for information on utilizing this directory. See the Computing Services web site for additional lists of available software.


On Unix systems man command yields help on command. Linux also features the info system. CMU has developed the Polaris documentation collection. Windows XP and Macintosh computers have voluminous on-line help available. If you need additional help with something, call the help center at 268-HELP or Al Brunk at 268-2736.

Word Processing

Windows XP and Macinsoth computers run Microsoft Word. Unix users generally separate file editing from typesetting. Popular editors are emacs, xemacs and vi. The most popular typesetting program is latex. LaTex output is a dvi file that can be viewed with xdvi, printed directly, or converted to PostScript with dvips. RevTex macros are available in the Tools directory. There are also nice graphical "front ends" for LaTex such as lyx (available on Linux in Tools) and vortex on Macintosh. To convert PostScript files to PDF, use the program distill on To convert LaTex files to PDF use the program pdflatex on or

Programming Languages

The principal programming languages, Fortran (g77 on Linux in addition to the PGI fortran compilers), C (cc, c++, gcc and g++) and Pascal (pc on SunOS and p2cc on Linux) are available on the Unix computers. Debugging and profiling is done with dbx, gdb and gprof. DEC Visual Fortran and the Microsoft Visual Studio (C++, J++ and basic) are installed on the dual processor NT computers.

Parallel processing is available using MPI or Open MP, subject to our CPU usage guidelines.

Symbolic Math

Mathematica (math to run kernel, mathematica to run front end) and maple are available on Linux , Windows XP and  Macintosh computers.

Numerical Math

Matlab (matlab on Unix) is an interactive program for mathematical manipulation with special strength in arrays and graphics. IMSL libraries are available on Numerical Recipes in fortran and C is available in the Tools directory.


Use xgraph or xmgr in the Tools directory for data plotting and gnuplot for data and function plotting. Rasmol draws 3-D molecular structures. Mathematica, maple and matlab all contain nice graphics. Kaleidagraph and Cricket Graph are installed on the Macintosh computers. Photoshop is installed on hera. For pdf and PostScript viewing, use Acrobat Reader (acroread on Unix) and ghostview. For bitmapped graphics, use the various paint programs on Macintosh and Windows XP. On Unix, use xv and the display suite of tools for bitmapped graphics.

Tools Directory

The Tools directory contains a collection of software of special interest to physics users. To utilize these packages you must revise your .login file to include the lines:
set path=($path /afs/andrew/mcs/physics/Tools/bin)
setenv MANPATH $MANPATH':/afs/andrew/mcs/physics/Tools/man'
setenv TEXINPUTS /usr/local/share/texmf//: \ /afs/andrew/mcs/physics/Tools/texinputs:/afs/andrew/mcs/physics/Tools/revtex

WWW Resources

The Netlib organization has collected public domain mathematical software packages. For further math and statistics software visit the GAMS index at NIST. The Geometry Center has collected interesting graphics and computational geometry tools. To convert real numbers into symbolic form, try the Inverse Symbolic Calculator.  Finally, the British collaborative computational project CCP provides sophisticated tools geared towards specific research areas.