A General Overview of Maple
Maple is a general purpose computer algebra system, designed to solve mathematical problems and produce high-quality technical graphics. It is easy to learn, but powerful enough to calculate difficult integrals in seconds. Maple incorporates a high-level programming language which allows the user to define his own procedures; it also has packages of specialized functions which may be loaded to do work in group theory, linear algebra, and statistics, as well as in other fields. It can be used interactively or in batch mode, for teaching or research.
Maple is classified by UITS as a General Purpose Software. Documentation is available in all Student Technology Centers and the Center for Statistical and Mathematical Computing. UITS Public Facilities consultants can provide assistance in accessing the program. The Center for Statistical and Mathematical Computing (812/855-4724 or email to email@example.com) can answer basic to advanced questions. NOTE: If you are a student using Maple for a class exercise, questions about your class work should be directed first to your instructors.
Program Functionality: Excellent
Breadth of Functionality: Excellent
Maple has over 2500 functions available. A basic core collection is loaded at startup, and specialized packages are available, for topics from statistics to geometry.
Reliability and Robustness: Good
Maple is very robust, and reliable. However, no computer program can replace understanding! People do mathematics, computers don't.
State of the Art: Excellent
Maple is one of the leading mathematics programs, noted for its algebraic and analytic prowess. Export to LaTeX or HTML are provided.
Maple is relatively good about not returning "wrong" answers. Inverse functions remain the big problem for computer algebra systems. They appear in places where they might not be expected (definite integrals, for example), so any result from a CAS should be checked. Maple handles inverse functions fairly well, although the resulting fastidiousness can be surprising. Maple can [to some extent] handle assumption, such as "n is an integer" or "theta lies between 0 and Pi/2", which increases its power and precision, and makes it possible to deal with convergence conditions and inverse functions relatively well.
User Friendliness: Fair
Maple is the most user-friendly of the mathematical software available at IUB, but Maple's command-line language requires some investment in training before the program can be easily used.
Maple's language is easily understood by those trained with any procedural language (such as Basic or C); its command names and syntax are mostly straightforward and easily understood.
Electronic Help Resources: Excellent
Network-based help: Excellent
The Knowledge Base has answers to several frequently asked Maple questions.
Program Help System: Excellent
The Help System is excellent; it includes examples and discussion as well as syntax. A "New Users' Tour" makes it easy to get started, with hyperlinks to additional topics.
To get help on a known command, use the ? command -- for example, ?plot . "?" by itself gets help on the help system. When the command is unknown, you can search for a topic, or do a full-text search of the help system. At the top of a help window is a "Help Browser" which lists topics by category, with up to five levels of increasing detail.
Local Availability: Excellent
Indiana University at Bloomington has a site license for Maple; IUPUI also owns such a license. Consequently, the latest version of Maple [as of a month before the current semester started] will be installed in all UITS public computing facilities, and many of the UITS timesharing systems.For details, see the Math Software Availability page.
Further, Maple may be obtained at greatly reduced prices for departmental and personal workstations at these locations: see the Sales page for more information.
Local Support & Training: Excellent
Document Availability: Excellent
Locally produced documents are also available free of charge from UITS Stat/Math Center.
UITS makes basic manuals available in document racks in the Student Technology Centers. Full documentation is available for reference and short term loan from various Software Manual Locations. Documents are also available for reference at the UITS Stat/Math Center.
Training Availability: Excellent
UITS offers Steps classes for Getting Started With Maple free of charge to students. Instructors may request a specially arranged class for introducing their students to Maple by contacting UITS IT Training Group (855-3499).
User Group: Good
To join the international Maple Users' Group [mailing list], send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org containing the line
UITS Consulting Support: Full Support
Consulting support is available from Stat/Math Consulting from 9 am to 5 pm (M-F) via email, phone, and for walkins (an appointment is recommended for walkin consulting).
Other Consulting Support: Good
Registered Maple license owners can contact the vendor directly with the number provided with the license agreement: phone 800-267-6563. Students with the student edition should contact Brooks-Cole at 800-214-2661, or send e-mail to email@example.com.