In the context of analyzing physical systems I often have to plot results in the form of y=f(x,a,b,c,…). Here the plot variables x and y are physical quantities and the system parameters a,b,c… can have units as well.

After substitution of parameters the expression f(x,a,b,c,…) can be plotted using plot(f(x,a,b,c,…),x_range). Unit choice and labeling of the abscissa work already well when x_range is given in the format x=x0..x1 (where x0 and x1 have a value and a unit). This is already a huge improvement since labeling and unit conversion errors on the abscissa are almost impossible.

Also, the units on the ordinate are correctly displayed. However, if the depended variable y is desired to be displayed on the ordinate it must be added by hand using the label option. In doing so the display units and labels of both axes must be re-entered by hand. This re-entering step is a source of labeling and conversion errors.

To improve ordinate labeling and to reduce conversion errors I would love to see two improvements:

  • A plot option that would allow unit conversion of plot axes. I.e. telling Maple in which units a physical quantity has to be displayed and forcing a rescaling of the values of the physical quantities.
  • With less priority and additional to expressions, the plot command should also accept equations in the form of y=f(x) as input. This would lead to a very compact syntax that produces content rich and, more importantly, correct plots of physical quantities. Wrong labeling and conversion errors would be very unlikely.

Overall, I am very pleased by Maples unit functionality. I have been reluctant to switch from my old work style of using names as unit placeholder and self-made conversion sets. But now I feel that the likelihood of producing unit conversion errors with my old work style has become higher than using Maples units.

I can only encourage interested users to give units a try. Its good!  For me it has turned out to be time worth invested.

I also hope that Maplesoft continues their efforts of providing more unit functionalities. It’s a big task but calculations with physical quantities are also a big differentiator.  

Please Wait...