General Software

First Look Review: Maple 10

21 Jul, 2006 By: IDSA ,Mike Hudspeth

Maplesoft's mathematics software can search its symbol library based on user-drawn images.


If you're like me, doing math in your head isn't a viable option. I know people who can do it very well. I hate to work with those people. Sure, I can do the kind of math that lets me figure out how
Maplesoft Maple 10
Pros: Full notation of every operation; Symbol Writer.
Cons: A bit pricey, but convince your company to buy it for you.
Price: $1,995

Maplesoft
800.267.6583
www.maplesoft.com

much everyone owes when we go to lunch and how much to leave for a tip, but I need a calculator to go much beyond that. I know I'm not alone. If you need to deal with complicated mathematical equations in your work, you need something like Maple 10 from Maplesoft.

Maple 10 is a very strong mathematics program with more functionality than you're ever likely to use. When you install it, three icons appear on your desktop: Maple 10, Classic Worksheet and Maple Calculator. All represent different ways of entering and using information. Maple 10 is the latest interface. Worksheet is an older interface through which information can be entered using programming syntax. Maple Calculator is like the Windows calculator -- on steroids. It uses the Maple 10 core, so it's got enough horsepower to get you what you need.

figure
The Maple Calculator uses the Maple 10 core to perform the kind of math you might need on the fly.

Literally thousands of mathematical symbols are available in Maple 10. I don't even know what half of them are, but they're there for the people who would know. And if you can't find the symbol you're looking for, Maple 10 has a truly innovative way to help you -- the Symbol Writer. It's a menu window where you write or draw the symbol you want. Below your graphic, a couple of guesses appear of what Maple 10 thinks might fit the bill. You merely select the one you want. Being a gadget lover, I asked about tablet PC support. Think about it: what better combination could there be? Maplesoft is working on it for a future release.

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The Maple 10 Symbol Writer, you can locate any math symbol you need by merely scribbling it in the window. Maple searches through its huge library and locates anything that comes close.

Do you know people who use Excel spreadsheets for their math? Or maybe that's you. Have you ever worked really hard to enter all the right formulas so you could get the correct answers, only to have them come out wrong because you made a mistake? How much fun was that to fix? Maple 10 has a better way. In Excel, all you get to see are the formulas and the answers. The actual math is done in the background. It makes for a shorter report, but it also makes troubleshooting nearly impossible. In Maple 10, all operations are visible. You can see everything line by line. If you've made an error, it's easy to spot. Results can be printed in several ways. You can set up matrixes, worksheets or even plot your answers graphically.

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You can plot your math in 3D shaded graphics for an at-a-glance understanding of what it means.

We all know experts. They've been around long enough to amass a powerful store of knowledge that we can tap to solve our problems when the going gets tough. But what happens when they aren't available? Have they retired? Are they on vacation? Wouldn't it be nice if we could somehow capture their expertise for reuse later?

Maple's live technical documents capture the whys of calculations. Users can add comments and suggestions to their math that explains what they were thinking when they plugged in a particular variable. Anyone can open the document later and understand the thinking behind the work. And Maple 10 doesn't make you convert units. You can enter inches and millimeters, liters and rods or whatever makes sense. Maple 10 knows what they are and will convert them to ten decimal places. That really makes things easy.

A Lot of Scratch, No Pads
At $1,995, Maple 10 isn't cheap, but it's the last math program you'll likely ever need. It's far better than my venerable TI-30 (although somewhat less portable)! For more information about Maple 10, visit the Maplesoft Web site.
Highly Recommended.


About the Author: IDSA


About the Author: Mike Hudspeth


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