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I thought I’d exercise my left brain a little with this post and write on something a bit more technical. Actually, this was triggered by a chat I had over dinner last night with our 3D graphics development manager and a client. As you may have guessed math is intimately related to computer graphics of all sorts. My PhD thesis so many years ago was on the topic of creating funny surfaces that smoothly join two complex surfaces with a relatively small number of shape control parameters: such surfaces are called blend surfaces. This required the development of a bunch of algorithms that related either implicitly defined surfaces (i.e. f(x,y,z) = 0) or parametrically defined surfaces (i.e. each point is defined by the triplet (x(t), y(t), z(t)) ). That was twenty years ago and I always thought that any problem that I was wrestling with would have been resolved twice over by now. My ego was pleasantly surprised that indeed such problems are still the stuff of heated debates and vigorous research.
For almost 20 years, Math education has been recognized as the first killer application for symbolic computing. By taking out the grunt work of manipulating equations, calculating integrals and performing matrix computations with symbolic entries, systems such as Maple have transformed the math classroom.
A dramatic change in how we interact with the environment demands an equally dramatic change in how we develop technology. The evolution of predictive technology – in other words, software - has been a precursor to the development of environmentally progressive technologies like clean coal power stations and hybrid energy vehicles.
On a recent trip to McGill University in Montreal, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Paul Oh of Drexel University in Philadelphia and the Director of the US National Science Foundation’s (NSF) robotics programs. During a fascinating presentation on the US robotics research landscape, Dr. Oh made a few comments that really made me think … and reflect.
Robotics has always been a “sweet spot” for Maplesoft technology. Between the necessary complex...
One of the great parts of my job is getting to meet all sorts of incredible people from all over the world. One of these, a math professor, is very close by to us, both geographically and professionally. Professor Jack Weiner is one of the most popular educators at the nearby University of Guelph. He is passionate about his work and it shows: he has won numerous awards, including the award for most "Popular Prof" in a national annual survey of Canadian Universities, for eight out of the last nine years.
I was recently forwarded a link to this Snopes article.
According to the urban legend described therein, text is still readable if all the letters in a word apart from the first and last are randomized. I quickly threw together a Maple worksheet, primarily using its flexible string manipulation tools.
We’re now at an inflection point in which symbolic technology will automate physical modeling and equation generation through tools like MapleSim. As a recent webinar hosted by Maplesoft and the Society of Automotive Engineers proved, engineers are fascinated by the application of the technology, and the technology itself.
- Voting patterns in Mexico and Florida.
- The size of files in your Maple 12 installation
- Stock trading volumes on the NYSE
What do all of these have in common? They, and other data sets drawn from the real world, often follow a non-intuitive pattern called Benford’s Law.
A colleague of mine recently mentioned something to me about an article that circulates every year during the holiday season, entitled “The Physics of Santa Claus”. This was news to me, so I ran a few Google searches to find out what she was talking about.
My wife will tell you that I am horrible at remembering important things like birthdays and sending Christmas cards on time … or at all. As we approach the end of another remarkable year, it’s always rewarding to reflect on the events of the year and take the time to thank all those who made the year so remarkable. So, in no particular order
December 19 2008
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.
December 11 2008
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.
Warning: this blog post contains strong language. Reader discretion is advised. Actually, it’s the posting in the Facebook group “Every time I walk into math class a little part of me dies” that contains the strong language. This group pulls almost 12,000 young students (mostly high school age) who share a common interest – the fear, loathing, and ultimately hatred of math.
Being inept at math is almost a badge of honor for many today. In a social gathering, even an adult one, it won’t be long until someone (typically articulate and educated) blurts out “I’m a complete zero when it comes to math” with some pride. Funny though … you don’t hear many shouting “I can’t read a single word!” with the same enthusiasm.
Come January, a group of Maple experts will be heading to the American capital, not for the presidential inauguration, but to attend the 2009 Joint Mathematics Meetings. This year’s event marks the 115th annual meeting of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the 92nd meeting of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).