Today, we’re excited to share the fruits of over a year of labor at Desmos Studio: our new 3D Calculator.
Why jump into this new dimension? 3D graphing doesn’t make all that many appearances in K-12 education. Few people today instinctively reach for a 3D calculator when trying to reason about a question.
But that’s exactly why this tool has felt so important to develop. The world we inhabit is three-dimensional. So much interesting mathematics lives there, from the abstract (e.g. conic sections) to the practical (volume, surface area), to the professional (movie & game design). Yet very few of us have built up a deep intuition for how points, curves, and surfaces behave in three dimensions.
We’re hoping that we can help to change that. Over and over we’ve seen the power that comes from matching a powerful tool with a curious mind. The products we strive to build make it possible to more easily explore new ideas, to develop them, and to share them. We’re eager to hear from you whether we’ve hit the mark with this first version — and also how it can improve from here!
Read on for some interactive examples of the 3D Calculator in action.
With the 3D calculator, you can take the parabola you know and love and turn it into a cup:Explore this graph
Many of your favorite features will work just as they do in the Graphing Calculator. Try adjusting the sliders above, for example. What do you notice?
You can define functions in 3D as well. Here we draw a surface of revolution of the function
$f$ by using the distance formula to plot circles around the x-axis so that
$y^2+z^2$ equals the square of the radius,
Some of the more powerful 2D features are here in 3D as well. For example, we can use lists to plot many values at once. Here’s a seemingly simple list of points. Change the orientation to reveal the secret shape:Explore this graph
Most of all, we encourage you to just play around. You’ll be surprised, as we have been, by some of the shapes that will emerge:Explore this graph
For more examples, head over to our new 3D Graph Gallery.
As part of this launch, we’re also excited to introduce a new approach to built-in learning that we call “quests.”
Each quest is a challenge to complete with a series of goals. There’s no one way to complete a quest, so get creative. Try to use as few equations as you can, or find a solution no one else has. Try a quest!.
It’s early days, and as a beta product we know that there will be rough edges to sand down. Please forgive us for any splinters. But please also complain loudly about any issues you run into (or praise us loudly as you find things you like). We are always immensely grateful for both. This product takes inspiration not just from all of the requests we’ve received over the years, but from the countless examples of people building their own 3d interfaces inside of the Graphing Calculator. We can’t overstate how lucky we feel to get to learn with and from the incredible, brilliant, generous, and creative Desmos community.
Building a 3D Calculator has been a goal of ours for years, and was one of the first things we chose to prioritize when we formed Desmos Studio PBC last year. Our mission at Desmos Studio is to help everyone learn math, love math, and grow with math. To succeed at that we need to continually grow with you. We hope this is one step of many to come in that direction.
– The Desmos Studio Team