Featured Post

Maple 2020 offers many improvements motivated and driven by our users.

Every single update in a new release has a story behind it. It might be a new function that a customer wants, a response to some feedback about usability, or an itch that a developer needs to scratch.

I’ll end this post with a story about acoustic guitars and how they drove improvements in signal and audio processing. But first, here are some of my personal favorites from Maple 2020.

Graph theory is a big focus of Maple 2020. The new features include more control over visualization, additional special graphs, new analysis functions, and even an interactive layout tool.

I’m particularly enamoured by these:

  • We’ve introduced new centrality measures - these help you determine the most influential vertices, based on their connections to other vertices
  • You now have more control over the styling of graphs – for example, you can vary the size or color of a nodebased on its centrality

I’ve used these two new features to identify the most influential MaplePrimes users. Get the worksheet here.

@Carl Love – looks like you’re the biggest mover and shaker on MaplePrimes (well, according to the eigenvector centrality of the MaplePrimes interaction graph).

We’ve also started using graph theory elsewhere in Maple. For example, you can generate static call graph to visualize dependencies between procedures calls in a procedure

You now get smoother edges for 3d surfaces with non-numeric values. Just look at the difference between Maple 2019 and 2020 for this plot.

Printing and PDF export has gotten a whole lot better.  We’ve put a lot of work into the proper handling of plots, tables, and interactive components, so the results look better than before.

For example, plots now maintain their aspect ratio when printed. So your carefully constructed psychrometric chart will not be squashed and stretched when exported to a PDF.

We’ve overhauled the start page to give it a cleaner, less cluttered look – this is much more digestible for new users (experienced users might find the new look attractive as well!). There’s a link to the Maple Portal, and an updated Maple Fundamentals guide that helps new users learn the product.

We’ve also linked to a guide that helps you choose between Document and Worksheet, and a link to a new movie.

New messages also guide new users away from some very common mistakes. For example, students often type “e” when referring to the exponential constant – a warning now appears if that is detected

We’re always tweaking existing functions to make them faster. For example, you can now compute the natural logarithm of large integers much more quickly and with less memory.

This calculation is about 50 times faster in Maple 2020 than in prior versions:

Many of our educators have asked for this – the linear algebra tutorials now return step by step solutions to the main document, so you have a record of what you did after the tutor is closed.

Continuing with this theme, the Student:-LinearAlgebra context menu features several new linear algebra visualizations to the Student:-LinearAlgebra Context Menu. This, for example, is an eigenvector plot.

Maple can now numerically evaluate various integral transforms.

The numerical inversion of integral transforms has application in many branches of science and engineering.

Maple is the world’s best tool for the symbolic solution of ODEs and PDEs, and in each release we push the boundary back further.

For example, Maple 2020 has improved tools for find hypergeometric solutions for linear PDEs.

This might seem like a minor improvement that’s barely worth mentions, but it’s one I now use all the time! You can now reorder worksheet tabs just by clicking and dragging.

The Hough transform lets you detect straight lines and line segments in images.

Hough transforms are widely used in automatic lane detection systems for autonomous driving. You can even detect the straight lines on a Sudoku grid!

The Physics package is always a pleasure to write about because it's something we do far better than the competition.

The new explore option in TensorArray combines two themes in Maple - Physics and interactive components. It's an intuitive solution to the real problem of viewing the contents of higher dimensional tensorial expressions.

There are many more updates to Physics in Maple 2020, including a completely rewritten FeynmanDiagrams command.

The Quantum Chemistry Toolbox has been updated with more analysis tools and curriculum material.

There’s more teaching content for general chemistry.

Among the many new analysis functions, you can now visualize transition orbitals.

I promised you a story about acoustic guitars and Maple 2020, didn’t I?

I often start a perfectly innocuous conversation about Maple that descends into several weeks of intense, feverish work.

The work is partly for me, but mostly for my colleagues. They don’t like me for that.

That conversation usually happens on a Friday afternoon, when we’re least prepared for it. On the plus side, this often means a user has planted a germ of an idea for a new feature or improvement, and we just have to will it into existence.

One Friday afternoon last year, I was speaking to a user about acoustic guitars. He wanted to synthetically generate guitar chords with reverb, and export the sound to a 32-bit Wave file. All of this, in Maple.

This started a chain of events that that involved least-square filters, frequency response curves, convolution, Karplus-Strong string synthesis and more. We’ll package up the results of this work, and hand it over to you – our users – over the next one or two releases.

Let me tell you what made it into Maple 2020.

Start by listening to this:

It’s a guitar chord played twice, the second time with reverb, both generated with Maple.

The reverb was simulated with convolving the artificially generated guitar chord with an impulse response. I had a choice of convolution functions in the SignalProcessing and AudioTools packages.

Both gave the same results, but we found that SignalProcessing:-Convolution was much faster than its AudioTools counterpart.

There’s no reason for the speed difference, so R&D modified AudioTools:-Convolution to leverage SignalProcessing:-Convolution for the instances for which their options are compatible. In this application, AudioTools:-Convolution is 25 times faster in Maple 2020 than Maple 2019!

We also discovered that the underlying library we use for the SignalProcessing package (the Intel IPP) gives two options for convolution that we were previously not using; a method which use an explicit formula and a “fast” method that uses FFTs. We modified SignalProcessing:-Convolution to accept both options (previously, we used just one of the methods),

That’s the story behind two new features in Maple 2020. Look at the entirety of what’s new in this release – there’s a tale for each new feature. I’d love to tell you more, but I’d run out of ink before I finish.

To read about everything that’s new in Maple 2020, go to the new features page.

Featured Post

Today we celebrated International Women's Day at Maplesoft. As part of our celebration, we had a panel of 5 successful women from within the community share their experiences and insights with us. 

Hearing these women speak has given me the courage to share my personal experience and advice to women in technology. If what I write here helps even one woman, then I will have accomplished something great today. 


What do you do at Maplesoft?

My name is Karishma. I'm the Director, Product Management - Academic. 


Where did you grow up and where did you go to school (Diploma/degree)?

I was born and raised in Montreal to parents of Indian descent. Like most Indian parents, they “encouraged" me to pursue a career in either Law, Medicine, or Engineering, despite my true calling to pursue a career in theatre (at least that's what I believed it to be at the time)

Given that I had no siblings to break the ice, and that rebelling wasn't my Modus Operandi (that came much later), I did what any obedient teenager would do: I pursued a career in Electrical Engineering at McGill University. In my mind, this was the fastest way to landing a job and fleeing the proverbial nest. 

Electrical Engineering was far from glamorous, and after two years, I was ready to switch. It was due to the sheer insistence of my mother that I completed the degree. 

So how did I end up pursuing a graduate degree in Biomedical Engineering at McGill University? It wasn't the future I envisioned, but the economic downturn in 2001-2002 saw a massive decrease in hiring, and the job that I had held-out patiently for during those four years became a far-off dream. So I did the thing I never imagined I would: I accepted the offer to pursue a Master's and the very generous stipend that came with it. In case you are wondering, I only applied because my father nagged me into submission. (Insistence and nagging are two innate traits of Indian parents)

Contrary to what I expected, I loved my Master's degree! It gave me the freedom to immerse myself wholly in a topic I found exciting and allowed me to call the shots on my schedule, which led to my involvement in student government as VP Internal. But apart from the research and the independence, pursuing a master's degree opened doors to opportunities that I couldn't have imagined, such as an internship with the International Organization for Migration in Kenya, a job offer in Europe, and the chance to work at Maplesoft. (I guess my parents did know what was best for me.) 


What is the best part of your job?

It's figuring out how to solve problems our users have as well as the ones they might not realize they have. 

At Maplesoft, I work with some most brilliant minds I've ever encountered to build a product that makes math more accessible to our users, whether they be a student, researcher, scientist, or engineer. 

Some of the aspects of my role that I love the most include: 

  • speaking to and learning from our customers, 
  • interpreting the meaning behind their words, facial expressions, vocal intonations, and body language, and
  • collaborating with the sales, marketing, and development teams to turn what was 'said' into tangible actions that will enhance the product and user experience. 

Most nights, when I leave work, I do so with a sense of excitement because I know my actions and the actions of those I work with will help our users achieve their goals and ambitions. There's no better high. 


What advice do you have for young women interested in a career in your field? 
Throughout my career, I've had the privilege to work with some amazing women and men who've given me advice that I wish I had known when I was an undergraduate student. If you are a woman pursuing a STEM degree or starting your first job in a tech firm, here are three tips that may help you: 

1.   Don't be scared of the 'N' word. 
Don't be scared of NETWORKING. I know it can be intimidating, but it truly is the best way to land a job, advance your career, or meet the person you admire most. Remember that networking can take place anywhere - it's not exclusive to networking events. Some advice that I received that helped me overcome my fear of networking: 

  • Smile - Before you approach a person or enter a networking session, force yourself to smile. It will help you diffuse any tension you are holding and will make you appear more approachable. 
  • Research - Take the time to research the person(s) you would like to meet. Find out as much as you can about them and their company. Prepare some icebreaker questions and other questions to help carry the conversation forward ahead of time. Remember that people like to talk about themselves and their experiences. 
  • Don't take it personally - The person you approach may find networking equally tricky. So if they seem disinterested or aloof, don't take it personally. 
  • Just do it - Networking gets easier with practice. Don't let a failed attempt set you back. The worse thing that will happen is that you don't make a connection. 


 2.   It's ok to ask for help.
If you are a woman in an environment that is dominated by men, you might hesitate to ask for help. DON'T! There's nothing wrong with asking for help. That said, many women ask for help in a way that undermines their confidence and thus erodes others’ perception of them. Next time you need help, have a question or require clarification, take a moment to phrase your request, so you don't inadvertently put yourself down. 


3.   Play to your strengths
Don't think you need to know everything. Nobody expects it. If you landed a new job or co-op placement, and you are finding yourself doing things you've never done and don't come naturally to you yet, don't let your brain convince you that you don't deserve it. Remember that you earned it because of your qualities and strengths. 

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