Issue: Volume: 23 Issue: 5 (May 2000)

SPOTLIGHT: Waterloo Maple's Math Software

Maple 6, the latest version, integrates Maple's symbolic technology with a suite of numerical solvers from the UK-based NAG (Numerical Algorithms Group) for greater overall power and flexibility in technical computations. The new analytical environment of Maple 6 can be applied to many 2D and 3D applications including automation, mechanical engineering, scientific visualization, data analysis, physics, and animation.

Senior R&D technical director Shawn Neely is among several Maple 5.1 users at PDI/Dream works in Palo Alto, California. "I personally use Maple for tough problems in differentiation and integration (calculus) such as might be applied to certain aspects of rendering a computer graphics model," says Neely. "We use it for algebraic operations, which are then converted to C source code for inclusion in our programs." Other colleagues, he reports, employ it to solve partial differential equations for fluid dynamics that are used in conjunction with PDI's fluid simulation system for creating digital water. "Our initial choice about Maple was simple," says Neely. "A colleague of mine here and I both graduated with computer science degrees from the University of Waterloo, where Maple was originally developed, so we were familiar with its syntax and capabilities. More recently, our decision to stick with it was influenced by its availability for the Linux operating system."

Maple 6 runs on Windows, Macintosh, and Unix platforms, as well as on Linux, and requires approximately 32mb of RAM and 70mb of hard-disk space. Additional new features of the software include more programming tools, connectivity with Microsoft's Excel 2000 spreadsheet program, and export capability to RTF (Rich Text Format). Maple 6, which just began shipping, costs $1695. (Waterloo Maple; 519-747-2373; Waterloo, Ontario, Canada;