JacquesC

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

Yes, the *Overflow sites most definitely do not want 'discussions' to happen, they want their sites to be much more about questions and answers.

Personally, I grew to like that each user had a MaplePrimes 'blog' -- what is now called Posts (unless it's blessed by the company at which time it's a blog again).  What about "Maplesoft Blog" and "User Blog" ?  I think that that would be a nicer, cleaner distinction than questions/post/blog.

And until you have a meta.mapleprimes.com site, stuff about mapleprimes itself really does need a proper home!

My comment above took 18 seconds between me hitting 'submit' and me getting this page back.

One good thing: hitting the 'post comment' link brought me to this page (essentially) instantaneously.

My comment above took 18 seconds between me hitting 'submit' and me getting this page back.

One good thing: hitting the 'post comment' link brought me to this page (essentially) instantaneously.

No matter what I try, it's slow.  This page took about 3 seconds to come up.  Posting a comments takes about 5 seconds.  And since everything else seems to be instantaneous, anything > 1 second seems like forever.

No matter what I try, it's slow.  This page took about 3 seconds to come up.  Posting a comments takes about 5 seconds.  And since everything else seems to be instantaneous, anything > 1 second seems like forever.

Clearly this new version of primes has been highly influenced by StackOverflow.  Unfortunately, to my mind, not enough.  The badges do not show up beside your name, the responses do not influence your reputation, the home page is too cluttered, there kinds of sorting available are not as good, and so on.

But I entirely disagree with you regarding MathOverflow.  In fact, I tend to spend most of my 'free' time on MathOverflow [because the people there have a lot to teach me!] and I find StackOverflow entirely boring.  Only once in a while does a vaguely interesting thread come up (like the one from Alan Kay), but by and large it is way too dominated by mainstrream languages.  The level of discussion on MathOverflow is hugely higher, and is exactly the level I am interested in.  I think I got bored with mapleprimes because the level of discussion had degenerated too much. 

Manual updating would be completely insane.  I know that it is fully automatic (but with a small delay) on the site where a lot of these features were copied from (StackOverflow).

That "user quote" from page 5 is priceless!

The way I think of it is that moderators should strive, as much as possible, to do nothing.  If everything is working as it should, moderation should be trivial.  That implies that minor issues (like spelling, grammar, etc) should be left alone.  Only when a post either contravenes the community guidelines or it's incomprehensible (because of formatting or just impossible-to-understand English) would intervention become a good idea.

Since I'm well-known to be highly critical of a lot of stuff, I'll take the time to do the opposite: these guidelines are fantastic.

I am also relieved.  But I agree that it would be best if the delete button was moved to be the rightmost button rather than the leftmost.

As a new moderator, I now see this for the first time.  My guess is that 'Maple Commons' was in fact deleted, so that this thread is obsolete.  Is this the case?

First: Maple uses a lot of extremely sophisticated algorithms, in a lot of different areas.  It even implements a few sophisticated data-structures.  And some of the darker corners (like combstruct and Ore_Algebra) use quite sophisticated programming techniques.  I hear that parts of MapleSim are quite 'sophisticated' in this sense too (i.e. some funky run-time code generation is going on).

Aldor uses a lot of advanced programming ideas.  Linbox uses (fairly simple, but effective) meta-programming techniques to get very high efficiency; Atlas and expecially Spiral are considerably more sophisticated.

But there is a big difference between using sophisticated ideas 'inside', and allowing your users to use the same facilities in an as-easy-as-possible way. 

I did qualify those particular comments as a 'rant', didn't I?  Rants are rarely fully rational, and I knew mine wasn't.  It was past when I should have been in bed...

I won't comment on your post further than to reiterate the subject: you're right.

How do you tell if some routine is thread-safe?  Abstractly, that's easy: routines which do not write to any variables which are non-local are thread-safe.  And there are well-known program  analyses to do this, and they are all based on the same underlying technology: abstract interpretation.  And that technology works really well, because it is designed around sound approximations (i.e. false negatives are OK, false positives are not). In practice, this is a fairly hard problem though, especially since Maple's functional programming capabilities are fairly restricted and Maple's operational semantics are sub-optimal.

But guess what, there is a prototype code analysis tool, based on abstract interpretation which can be used for exactly this purpose!  It was written by Stephen Forrest while he was my M.Sc. student.  There is a set of slides describing that work, as well as an unpublished paper (see pages 5-20 of the work-in-progress proceedings of Calculemus 2007).  Of course, the most thorough document is Stephen's M.Sc. thesis.  I should put a copy somewhere 'better', as that link is likely to die soon.

Obligatory rant: I gave that topic to Stephen in September 2005.  It's now December 2009, and now Maplesoft is figuring out that program analysis is quite useful.  I guess I'll have to wait until at least 2013 before they figure out how useful DSLs and model-based code-generation really are then.

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