By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
Andy, who is one of the family, is a master of the engineer’s understatement. He just graduated UMass Amherst. You would not believe what this man overcame to get his sheepskin. Frankly, I’m amazed he remains mischievous and hasn’t become a bitter old guy at 24. Here’s his official announcement on Facebook: “And after six years of it, they decided to give me a piece of paper to remind me that I’m an Electrical Engineer. My college days end today.”
When Maplesoft recently announced version 16 of Maple, its technical computing system for mathematicians, engineers, and scientists, they too exhibited the engineer’s propensity for understatement, IMHO. First, the official announcement was just under 475 words. Second, they simply called Maple 16 “a major release” — and just one time at that.
Well, yes, Maple 16 is a major release. Still, after learning that it offers more than 4,500 additions and improvements across the entire product, and spending the better part of an afternoon working through the huge amount of detail the company offers online about this release, I chuckled at the understatement. The depth and breadth of what Maplesoft has introduced in version 16 seems more than “major,” so my adjective will be “vast” when the time comes.
Anyway, here’s a snapshot: Maple 16 has new tools and improvements in its mathematical algorithms, visualization capabilities, engineering tools, documentation and authoring options, programming support, educational features, and overall performance. I’m sure I missed something, but it seems safe to say that you’ll find much that’s shiny and new in whatever part of Maple you rely on.
Notable changes in Maple 16 include two new tools in its Clickable Math collection, which, if you are not familiar with them, are handy tools that provide a point-and-click interface for solving, visualizing, and exploring mathematical problems. The first new one, Drag-to-Solve, lets you solve equations step-by-step by dragging individual terms to where you want them to be. The second new Clickable Math tool is for figuring out what you’re doing. Called Smart Popups, this tool lets you apply operations to a single part of an equation or mathematical expression so that you can preview the result of your operation before you mess everything up.
Maple 16 has new solving methods for 1st, 2nd, and higher-order nonlinear ODEs (ordinary differential equations). A new Smart Plot view lets you focus in on points of interest, and new Live Data Plots provide single-click functionality for generating and modifying charts, plots, and histograms. You can interactively change data, colors, perspective, gridlines, and other options and see the results right away.
And it goes on and on. Your best bet for getting a handle on just how much more you can do with Maple 16, or how Maple can sweeten your process, is to hit the link at the end of today’s Pick of the Week write-up, go to the Maplesoft website, and see for yourself. They make it easy to maneuver your way around, and almost every discussion has a video. So, at the risk of understatement, let me say just this once: Maple 16 is a vast release.
Thanks, pal. — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering
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