Walking into the big blue Maplesoft office on August 3rd was a bit nerve wracking. I had no idea who anyone was, what to expect, or even what I would be doing. As I sat in the front hall waiting for someone to receive me, I remember thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?”. Despite my worries on that first day, interning at Maplesoft has been a great experience! I never knew that I would be able to learn so much about programming and working in a company in such a short amount of time. Although Maple was a programming language that was foreign to me a couple weeks ago, I feel like I’m relatively well versed in it now. Trying to learn a new language in this short timespan hasn’t been easy, but I think that I picked it up quickly, even if I’ve had my fair share of frustrations.
Chaos Game example on Rosetta Code
At Maplesoft, I’ve been contributing to the Rosetta Code project by writing short programs using Maple. The Rosetta Code project is dedicated to creating programming examples for many different tasks in different programming languages. My summer project has been to create solutions using Maple for as many tasks as possible and to post these to Rosetta Code; the goal being to have the list of tasks without Maple implementation shrink with each passing day. It’s nice to feel like I’m leaving a mark in this world, even if it is in such a small corner of the internet.
Flipping Bits example on Rosetta Code/MapleCloud
This internship, of course, came with its share of challenges. During my work on the Rosetta Code project, I posted solutions for a total of 38 tasks. Some of them were easy, but some of them took days to complete. On some days, I felt like I was on top of the world. Everything I made turned out great and I knew exactly how to tackle each problem. Other days were slower. I’ve spent ages just staring at a computer monitor trying to figure out just how on earth I was going to make this machine do what I wanted it to do! The 24 Game task was particularly hard, but also very educational. Through this task, I learned about modules, a concept previously unknown to me. I’m fairly sure that the 24 Game also took me the longest, whereas the Increment a numerical string task took me no time at all. Despite it being easy, the Increment a numerical string task wasn’t particularly fun; a bit of a challenge is required for something to be entertaining, after all. My personal favourite was the Fibonacci n-step number sequences task. It was the first really challenging task I encountered, and for after which the feeling of finally completing a task that I spent so long on, of finally overcoming that mountain, was extremely satisfying. Not all challenges end in satisfaction, however. I often found myself accidentally doing something that made the window freeze. I would close the program, then cry a bit on the inside when I realized I just lost the past half an hour’s worth of unsaved work. Nevertheless, I’m glad I got to face all these obstacles because they have made me more resilient and a better programmer.
The following is the code for the Fibonacci n-step number sequences task
numSequence := proc(initValues :: Array)
local n, i, values;
n := numelems(initValues);
values := copy(initValues);
for i from (n+1) to 15 do
values(i) := add(values[i-n..i-1]);
initValues := Array():
for i from 2 to 10 do
initValues(i) := add(initValues):
printf ("nacci(%d): %a\n", i, convert(numSequence(initValues), list));
printf ("lucas: %a\n", convert(numSequence(Array([2, 1])), list));
Maple was a great software to program with and a fairly straightforward language to learn. Having previously programmed in Java, I found Maple similar enough that transitioning wasn’t too difficult. In fact, every once in a while when I didn`t know what to do for a task, I would take a look at the Java example in Rosetta Code and it would point me in a direction or give me some hints. While the two languages are similar, there are still many differences. For example, I liked the fact that in Maple, lists started at an index of 1 rather than 0 and arrays could an arbitrary starting index. Although it was different from what I was used to, I found that it made many things much less confusing. Another thing I liked was that the for loop syntax was very simple. I never once had to run through in my head how many times something would loop for. There were such a wide variety of commands in Maple. There was a command for practically anything, and if you knew that it existed and how to use it, then so much power could be at your fingertips. This is where the help system came in extremely handy. With a single search you might find that the solution to the exact problem you were trying to solve already existed as a Maple command. I always had a help window open when I was using Maple.
Multiplication Tables example on Rosetta Code
Spending my summer coding at Maplesoft has been fun, sometimes challenging, but an overall rewarding experience. Through contributing to the Rosetta Code project, I’ve learned so much about computer programming, and it certainly made the 45 minute drive out to Waterloo worth it!
Maplesoft SHAD Intern