A wealth of knowledge is on display in MaplePrimes as our contributors share their expertise and step up to answer others’ queries. This post picks out one such response and further elucidates the answers to the posted question. I hope these explanations appeal to those of our readers who might not be familiar with the techniques embedded in the original responses.

Before I begin, a quick note that the content below was primarily created by one of our summer interns, Pia, with guidance and advice from me.

The Question: why is 2*cos(x)^2-1 simpler than 1-2*sin(x)^2

The author, nm, asked why 2*cos(x)^2-1  was simpler than 1-2*sin(x)^2 according to Maple. nm wrote:

I looked at help trying to understand why Maple thinks 2*cos(x)^2-1 is simpler than 1-2*sin(x)^2 but did not see it. I was expecting to see cos(2*x) as a result.

Preben Alsholm answered nm’s question by recommending the use of the combine command to obtain the result he was expecting to see, as well as a further explanation on how the simplify command works. Alsholm wrote:

Use combine to obtain what you want:

simplify has a general preference for cos over sin. That doesn't mean however, that it turns sin into cos at all costs:

##Try also

simplify doesn't necessarily get you the simplest result in the common sense of the word 'simplify'. Try as another example


As always, Alsholm provided an accurate, thoughtful response. But for those just learning Maple, I thought some additional explanation could be helpful.

Let’s talk more about the simplify command and combine function

The simplify command applies simplification rules to an expression. Its parameters can be any expression.

The combine function applies transformations which combine terms in sums, products, and powers into a single term. For many functions, the transformations applied by combine are the inverse of the transformations that are applied by expand. For example, consider the well-known identity:

sin(a + b) = sin(a) cos(b) + cos(a) sin(b)

The combine function applies the identity from right to left, whereas the expand function does the reverse.


I hope that you find this useful. If there is a particular question on MaplePrimes that you would like further explained, please feel free to contact me.


Please Wait...