Dear *Desktop Engineering* Reader:

A few years ago, I was chatting with a fellow nerd at a hotel bar after a day at some show. We got talking about mathematics software. He offered the opinion that history had ended for math tools. That is, besides technological adaptations for operating systems and programming languages and the like, he believed that the sun had set on mathematics software innovation. There’s nothing more they could do.

Huh.

Maplesoft just released version 17 of its Maple technical computing and documentation environment. It has some 430 new commands for mathematical problem solving alone. In total, Maple 17 incorporates some 5,565 changes and enhancements overall, including 400 intended to help you be more productive. I guess the sunset memo never got to Maplesoft’s HQ in Waterloo. Anyway, let’s run through some highlights of Maple 17.

Maple 17 has new functionality in the form of a new class of ordinary differential equations. These are said to be of the Abel type, with non-constant invariants and depending on two arbitrary parameters. It has new signal processing tools for analyzing and manipulating data as well. Enhancements to its statistics capabilities include a new algorithm for fitting data in an over-determined system, which should be handy for predictive modeling.

Maple’s Physics package offers a bunch of new commands. Among these are some new commands for working with tensors as well as special and general relativity. Enhancements include more support for vector analysis, Dirac matrices, and commutator and anticommutator algebras.

Maple 17 introduces a new Group Theory package with more than 150 commands for working with groups. With this toolkit, you can construct groups, examine their properties, perform operations, and do some visualizations. It supports alternating and symmetric groups, cyclic and dihedral groups, and linear, orthogonal, and unitary groups over finite fields. The package comes with a set of group constructors and databases of standard groups to make it easier for you to get started using this new package.

On the application development front, Maple 17 has a completely new editor for writing Maple code. Version 17 introduces some new programming constructs to make it easier to write parallel code, and a new parallel memory manager lets you use multiple processors to perform its job more quickly. There’s also a new capability that lets you embed videos inside a document.

Performance is said to be improved all around. Maplesoft says that computations running on a multiprocessor system are now 10% faster on average and some memory-intensive computations are reported to run up to 50% faster. For those of you who use the Maple education edition, version 17 offers 45 more interactive Maple Math Apps and a number of enhancements to its Clickable Math techniques.

And that’s just the start of it. You can learn more about Maple 17 from the link over there. Make sure to hit the link to the key new features in Maple 17 you’ll find at the end. It takes you to an enormous and thorough resource of Maple’s new features and capabilities.

Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood

Editor at Large, *Desktop Engineering*

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