Maplesoft‘s Maple Player for the iPad, released earlier this month, is a player in more than one way. First, it lets you play equations and mathematical expressions as though they were real-time animations.

By turning general theorems into interactive documents, the application lets you see the correlation between input and output. Take, for instance, approximating the value of a sphere through a stack of cylinders. As you change the value of the cylinders through a slider bar, you see how closely they conform to the shape of the sphere’s volume itself. In another exercise, by increasing the number of polygons, you see how the shape begins to correspond to the diameter of the sphere you’re evaluating.

A picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes. Seeing the interplay of numbers thus expressed in colorful visuals is bound to make comprehension a lot easier.

The app also takes a playful attitude to studies that might otherwise prove dull. How about studying the precise definition of limits through a numeric expression? Or figuring out the limit of a function by hand calculation? True, the more analytically inclined and mathematically gifted among you would find such brain-ticklers delightful, but many others in the general population may give up before they get the results.

Through multi-touch support on iPad, Maplesoft’s Maple Player enables you to interact — or play — with numbers as though they are malleable objects in your hand.

“The iPad is an increasingly important platform for many of our customers,” says Dr. Laurent Bernardin, executive VP and chief scientist at Maplesoft. “The Maple Player can be used to liven up a classroom and provide additional insight to students outside of class. As the technology evolves, we see the Maple Player soon becoming an integral part of the mathematics education experience.”

The free player, now downloadable from Apple app store, may make mathematical analyses much more accessible. With this player, you can send someone a mathematical formula by publishing it as an interactive document from desktop Maplesoft software. The recipient, who may or may not be in a position to comprehend the formula, can use the iPad app to explore your preposition by observing the relationship between input and output fields.

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