Prof. Jacques Carette

2386 Reputation

17 Badges

19 years, 65 days
McMaster University
Professor or university staff
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Social Networks and Content at Maplesoft.com

From a Maple perspective: I first started using it in 1985 (it was Maple 4.0, but I still have a Maple 3.3 manual!). Worked as a Maple tutor in 1987. Joined the company in 1991 as the sole GUI developer and wrote the first Windows version of Maple (for Windows 3.0). Founded the Math group in 1992. Worked remotely from France (still in Math, hosted by the ALGO project) from fall 1993 to summer 1996 where I did my PhD in complex dynamics in Orsay. Soon after I returned to Ontario, I became the Manager of the Math Group, which I grew from 2 people to 12 in 2.5 years. Got "promoted" into project management (for Maple 6, the last of the releases which allowed a lot of backward incompatibilities, aka the last time that design mistakes from the past were allowed to be fixed), and then moved on to an ill-fated web project (it was 1999 after all). After that, worked on coordinating the output from the (many!) research labs Maplesoft then worked with, as well as some Maple design and coding (inert form, the box model for Maplets, some aspects of MathML, context menus, a prototype compiler, and more), as well as some of the initial work on MapleNet. In 2002, an opportunity came up for a faculty position, which I took. After many years of being confronted with Maple weaknesses, I got a number of ideas of how I would go about 'doing better' -- but these ideas required a radical change of architecture, which I could not do within Maplesoft. I have been working on producing a 'better' system ever since.

MaplePrimes Activity

These are replies submitted by JacquesC

Come now Alec, there are many Maplesoft employees who are excellent programmers, etc.  You have merely encountered some 'others', and have improperly generalized.  Your own post above falls into the very category you dislike: it shows a lack of elementary culture and common sense.

I ended up on this post because it was listed under 'active conversations'.  Which is rather odd since it has not been 'active' in a year and a half!  So what gives?

[Of course, this was a rather interesting post, so I don't mind looking at it again.  But then again, in the old primes it was much clearer that what post each reply belonged to, something that's been lost here.  Ah, 'progress', where things look better but mean less than they did before.]

That's clearly a bug which needs to get fixed.  Did you file it?

with points #4 and #5.  I want the freedom to answer questions that I don't like, as the question might contain a deep misunderstanding that needs to be cleared up, even if the question has no real interest.  And I see no point whatsoever to #5 - the whole community should decide for itself what questions they like/don't like.  As it costs reputation to do so, it is unlikely that people will go on a downvote rampage.  You should be glad that Maplesoft employees are actually spending time on MP, which is a real improvement over what it was like a couple of years ago!

While a nice story, the code itself manages to squeeze in 2 anti-patterns:

  1. Adding one element at a time to a string (which is quadratic in space)
  2. Using strings to do code-generation (instead of using an AST which is then rendered)

A lot of Maple neophytes learn how to write Maple code from these official corporate posts -- but if they are done in this sub-optimal way, these neophytes grow up to be bad Maple programmers, whose applications (when they end up on the App Center) get bad reviews, etc, etc.  IMHO, all corporate blog posts should get thorough code reviews by seasoned Maple programmers, to insure that Maple users are not inadvertently taught bad habits.

You took these too literally.  You have questions/posts here - a user with high rep might be able to move something between these 2 categories.  Yes, editing other people's posts is a big responsibility, but on MO it is used quite sparingly and to rather good effect. 

You do have 'advertizing' on MP: Maplesoft announcements and the prominence of the Maplesoft Blog posts.  I might want to not have so much screen real estate taken up by such 'ads', as I am already 'sold'.

The minimum number of points (can be made quite low) before comments can be left is a really really good anti-spam mechanism.

Last but not least, the idea of a Community Wiki has been asked on MP for ages and ages.  There was even an independent one that was started because people grew tired of not having it here.  There is a huge amount of information on MP that really would fit well in a Community Wiki -- like those Book pages from the old MP. 

That's not much power.  Let's take a look at the powers one gets at MathOverflow:

10	Make community wiki posts
15	Vote up
15	Flag offensive
15	Post more than one link
15	Post images
50	Leave comments
100	Vote down (costs 1 rep)
100	Edit community wiki posts
100	Post more than one question per 20 minutes
100	Post more than one answer per 2 minutes
200	Reduced advertising (by a factor of 2)
250	Vote to close or reopen your questions
250	Create new tags
500	Retag questions
2000	Edit other people's posts
3000	Vote to close or reopen any questions
10000	Delete closed questions
10000	Access to moderation tools

That's the kind of power I'm talking about! Given the reputation system at MO, these various thresholds seem to be rather good. They might need to be tweaked for MP a little, but allowing the community to policy itself to this level really does build a 'community'.

@pagan Yes, that is relevant, to a point.  Robert (author of the blog post) is a bit of an iconoclast who goes for the long term and is definitely, solidly interested in education [and was hired for that].  So he does ignore corporate fads more than most, and will post on the things he thinks most important for users in education, regardless of whether the features he uses are fancy new gizmos or tried-and-true 'old' features. 

maptype should be used, it's a pity it's not. typematch is seriously under-used.

process is deprecated, as is nargs, args, etc.  There probably are some modern features of Maple which should be there as well (like of the funky options for map, evalf and whatnot).  The issue is that I have not personally done any serious Maple programming in a while, so I am up-to-date with Maple 11, but not as fluent in the more recent versions.  Definitely the Threads package should be added to that list above.  I am sure there is more.

Is there a badge for submitting SCRs?  There definitely should be!  [And I agree, different numbers of SCRs should give different levels of badges].

Let this be a proper community site and call a spade a spade: definitely the tag should be 'bug' and let's not have corporate-speak muddy the waters!  (2 metaphors in one sentence -- did I really write that?)

@Alec Mihailovs It may well be that the developer who worked on this is no longer at Maplesoft, but much more importantly the manager who oversaw this work and did the high-level design is still around.  So the high-level knowledge is still there.  The issue is more one of corporate focus; this was done when education was core to Maplesoft's strategic approach to its customer base.  Now that the strategy has changed, there is little developer time left to work on substantial improvements to code like the Student package [but I am sure that bug fixing still happens].

Those kinds of challenges are fun, whether they are feasible or not.  They are the kinds of exercises that can keep old-timers coming back (since I tire of answering all the easy questions).

Those kinds of challenges are fun, whether they are feasible or not.  They are the kinds of exercises that can keep old-timers coming back (since I tire of answering all the easy questions).

@pagan I was originally thinking of a tally, like on *Overflow.  But a smaller icon which shows both Up and Down votes could be good too.  Right now, in some views, only the up votes are seen, not the down votes.  I most definitely don't like that.

The student/commercial/academic/governement tag is really useless for the community - it doesn't really help 'us' any.  Sure, Maplesoft might like to make that distinction for several of its own reasons, but that doesn't mean that those internal classifications make sense to the community.  I don't think they should be exposed on prime.

There seems to be tags on older posts - were these added automatically?  Some of them are quite wrong.  I edited a couple of my own (old) posts to fix the tags.  If there was an easy way for me to do this, I probably would.  [You know, from a spreadsheet or something, not clicking through a thousand web pages].  I might even be willing to classify my comments on old posts as either answers or comments.

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