Go to the first, previous, next, last section, table of contents.


Octave was originally intended to be companion software for an undergraduate-level textbook on chemical reactor design being written by James B. Rawlings of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and John G. Ekerdt of the University of Texas.

Clearly, Octave is now much more than just another `courseware' package with limited utility beyond the classroom. Although our initial goals were somewhat vague, we knew that we wanted to create something that would enable students to solve realistic problems, and that they could use for many things other than chemical reactor design problems.

There are those who would say that we should be teaching the students Fortran instead, because that is the computer language of engineering, but every time we have tried that, the students have spent far too much time trying to figure out why their Fortran code crashes and not enough time learning about chemical engineering. With Octave, most students pick up the basics quickly, and are using it confidently in just a few hours.

Although it was originally intended to be used to teach reactor design, it has been used in several other undergraduate and graduate courses in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Texas, and the math department at the University of Texas has been using it for teaching differential equations and linear algebra as well. If you find it useful, please let us know. We are always interested to find out how Octave is being used in other places.

Virtually everyone thinks that the name Octave has something to do with music, but it is actually the name of a former professor of mine who wrote a famous textbook on chemical reaction engineering, and who was also well known for his ability to do quick `back of the envelope' calculations. We hope that this software will make it possible for many people to do more ambitious computations just as easily.

Everyone is encouraged to share this software with others under the terms of the GNU General Public License (see section GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE) as described at the beginning of this manual. You are also encouraged to help make Octave more useful by writing and contributing additional functions for it, and by reporting any problems you may have.


Many people have already contributed to Octave's development. In addition to John W. Eaton, the following people have helped write parts of Octave or helped out in various other ways.

Special thanks to the following people and organizations for supporting the development of Octave:

This project would not have been possible without the GNU software used in and used to produce Octave.

How You Can Contribute to Octave

There are a number of ways that you can contribute to help make Octave a better system. Perhaps the most important way to contribute is to write high-quality code for solving new problems, and to make your code freely available for others to use.

If you find Octave useful, consider providing additional funding to continue its development. Even a modest amount of additional funding could make a significant difference in the amount of time that is available for development and support.

If you cannot provide funding or contribute code, you can still help make Octave better and more reliable by reporting any bugs you find and by offering suggestions for ways to improve Octave. See section Known Causes of Trouble, for tips on how to write useful bug reports.


Octave is free software. This means that everyone is free to use it and free to redistribute it on certain conditions. Octave is not in the public domain. It is copyrighted and there are restrictions on its distribution, but the restrictions are designed to ensure that others will have the same freedom to use and redistribute Octave that you have. The precise conditions can be found in the GNU General Public License that comes with Octave and that also appears in section GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE.

Octave is available on CD-ROM with various collections of other free software, and from the Free Software Foundation. Ordering a copy of Octave from the Free Software Foundation helps to fund the development of more free software. For more information, write to

Free Software Foundation
59 Temple Place--Suite 330
Boston, MA 02111--1307

Octave is also available on the Internet from @url{ftp://ftp.che.wisc.edu/pub/octave}, and additional information is available from @url{http://www.che.wisc.edu/octave}.

Go to the first, previous, next, last section, table of contents.