Maplesoft Blogger Profile: Fred Kern

VP Sales

Fred has spent 38 years in the software industry, and the last 28 managing sales, marketing and consulting services for software companies and consulting on strategy for companies in North America, Europe and Asia.

For the past 4½ years Fred has led Maplesoft’s efforts in the North American “Professional” market (commercial and government accounts), as well as managing our International business. During that time Maplesoft has transformed itself from a single-product, single-market company to a fast-growing provider of multiple products to a number of target markets. Also during that time, Maplesoft has initiated a multi-year, multi-million dollar partnership and consulting relationship with one of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers.

Prior to joining Maplesoft, Fred’s experience included firms such as MathWorks (8 years, V.P. Worldwide Sales), Mathsoft (3 years, Sr. V.P. Worldwide Sales & Services) and Bolt Beranek and Newman (10 years, Sales Director). Fred also was founder and CEO of International Technologies.

His early career was spent in roles such as a system architect and consulting manager with TMI Systems (principal customer was Citibank, developing communications and cryptography systems), and as an engineer at GTE Sylvania (real-time testbed and simulator for underwater communications).

During college and grad school, Fred worked for Brookhaven National Labs (mathematical analysis software for a precursor device to today’s CT Scan), and for Burroughs (system software for early ATMs).

Fred holds a Masters degree from M.I.T., where he specialized in Artificial Intelligence (his wife stresses the “artificial” aspect), and a Bachelors degree from Queens College, City University of New York, where he completed a combined major in Math, Computer Science and Physics.

Fred is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and a 2-time winner of the “top student” award from the New York City chapter of the Mathematical Association of America.

Posts by Fred Kern

The Mighty Transistor...

March 19 2010 fkern 26
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A few days ago I asked my wife what she thought was the most important invention of the last 100 years. Without pause, she responded “the credit card!”

I suppose that “important” is relative, but my answer is the transistor. As Wikipedia puts it, “The transistor is the fundamental building block of modern electronic devices, and its presence is ubiquitous in modern electronic systems.” Semiconductors are vital to everyday life because they have radically reduced the size, cost and power consumption of all modern electronics.

Life wouldn’t be the same without transistors (or without credit cards, admittedly). Your laptop would weigh hundreds of pounds and be a “mainframe” computer without transistors. Your television would rely on tubes, and you couldn’t mount it on the wall – it would weigh 100 pounds or so without transistors. No mobile phones, either – your telephone would have a rotary dial, and the handset would be connected with a wire. Telephone directories would still be printed books weighing 5 pounds or so.

Watching the Dawn...

January 13 2010 fkern 26
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I’ve flown across the oceans hundreds of times, but anyone who has done it even once has experienced the beautiful view of a dawn or a sunset.  That is, if you weren’t asleep.

I’ve had the good fortune to witness other dawns and sunsets – the dawn of new technologies, and the sunset of others.  I’m old enough to remember the dawn of ATMs, fax machines, the internet, wireless technology, transistors, personal computers and several other things that are basic to our lives today.  I actually contributed in a small way to at least two of those “dawns”.

The truth is that most technology dawns are more obvious in the “afternoon” – a few years after the dawn.  When it’s happening, it often seems like a complicated and possibly interesting thing, but the full potential impact isn’t always clear (at least to me).

I’m quite sure that I’m witnessing another new dawn today.  It’s the dawn of symbolic computing technology revolutionizing the world of engineering.

It's a Small World...

November 17 2009 fkern 26

It’s a small world, but there are still too many borders.

I’ve recently become a fan of country music.  It amazes and amuses my wife and children, but I find that country music tells stories that contain some very basic truths.

Brad Paisley sings a song named “Welcome to the Future”.  He begins that song by telling his grandfather’s story of being a soldier in the Philippines fighting the Japanese during World...

My Three Great Passions...

November 03 2009 fkern 26
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Those of you who know me know that besides my family I have three great passions:  History, travel and technology.

I have always been an amateur student of history, reading and learning as much as I can.  But reading only gets you so far.  I think it was Mark Twain who said, “You can’t understand a country until you smell it.”  Smell it?  I think by that he meant that you can’t smell a country unless you are there, which is really the only way to begin to truly understand it.  He was right, of course, and travel is the perfect complement to my love of history.

The Great Shrinker...

May 14 2009 fkern 26
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A Boston-area comedian by the name of Steven Wright used to say, “It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it.”  Well, that tells you more about my sense of humor than about geography, but it’s true – it is a small world.  And it’s getting smaller and smaller.

What one usually means by “small” in this context is that it’s easier to get around.  Not just because travel is faster in the days of jet planes than it was in the days of caravans, but it’s because foreign places aren’t as, well, foreign as they used to be.
Just 30-ish years ago (ish is too many) I had to bring enough cash with me wherever I went to cover the needs of my trip because ATMs didn’t exist.  I couldn’t (well, wouldn’t) call home because it was horribly expensive.  That is if I could figure out how to use the phone.  I didn’t stay in touch with home at all because there was no email, no IM and no internet for Facebook or Twitter or anything else.

China on my Mind...

December 19 2008 fkern 26
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And probably on your mind as well.

When there isn’t a hot news story about an election, a scandal or a disaster, it seems that China is the constant background music we all hear.  China’s incredible growth.  China’s incredible wealth.  China’s growing need for oil that will soon exceed world production capacity.  China as the manufacturer of everything.

I’m sure you’ve heard the same.

India on My Mind...

December 11 2008 fkern 26
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Two things are focusing my attention on India these days.

The first is something that I’m sure I share with most of you – the sad and terrifying news of recent terrorist attacks.  We all hope that these were acts of small groups and will not lead to wider conflict.

The second is that I am very pleased to be resuming a relationship with a very fine organization in India that I have known for 20 years.  Maplesoft recently announced that Cranes Software International will represent us in India.  I expect exciting things in the coming months and years.

Who Needs Math?...

September 17 2008 fkern 26
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Math is boring. Math isn’t useful. You’ll never need to use math again after school. It isn’t necessary to learn math, now that we have cash registers, calculators and computers. Math is just plain boring.

Wrong!
 
Math matters!

Getting Physical...

September 15 2008 fkern 26
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It’s not the fault of my world-famous professors at M.I.T. who gave me a M.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering, but it’s a fact – I know less about engineering than most (if not all) of you.

Way back then, “Computer Science” was a fledgling field of study, and in many schools it was an offshoot of either math or engineering.  In my case it was an offshoot of engineering, and ergo my inappropriate degree.

So much for my sordid past.

How Computers Ruined Your Life...

September 09 2008 fkern 26
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Ruined your life?  Well, almost.  But now that you’re intrigued with my wild claim, let me explain.

The science of mathematics has a very long heritage.  The language of mathematics, as we recognize it today, is a bit younger – widely credited to François Viète, who introduced the first systematic algebraic notation in the last half of the 16th Century.

Along the way, over the course of many centuries, the power of mathematics increased steadily, through the contributions of many great men. 

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