Maplesoft Blog

The Maplesoft blog contains posts coming from the heart of Maplesoft. Find out what is coming next in the world of Maple, and get the best tips and tricks from the Maple experts.

This is Maple:

These are some primes:

22424170499, 106507053661, 193139816479, 210936428939, 329844591829, 386408307611,
395718860549, 396412723027, 412286285849, 427552056871, 454744396991, 694607189303,
730616292977, 736602622363, 750072072203, 773012980121, 800187484471, 842622684461

This is a Maple prime:

In plain text (so you can check it in Maple!) that number is:


This is a 3900 digit prime number. It took me about 400 seconds of computation to find using Maple.

It turns out be be really easy to do because prime numbers are realy quite common.  If you have a piece of ascii art where all the characters are numerals, you could just call on it and get a prime number that is still ascii art with a couple digits in the corner messed up (for a number this size, I expect fewer than 10 of the least significant digits would be altered).  You may notice, however, that my Maple Prime has beautiful corners!  This is possible because I found the prime in a slightly different way.

To get the ascii art in Maple, I started out by using to import ( )  and process the original image.  First then and to get a nice 78 pixel wide image.  Then to make it a pure 1-bit black or white image.

Then, from the image, I create a new Array of the decimal digits of the ascii art and my prime number.  For each of the black pixels I randomly use one of the digits or and for the white pixels (the background) I use 's.  Now I convert the Array to a large integer and test if it is prime using (it probably isn't) so, I just randomly change one of the black pixels to a different digit (there are 4 other choices) and call again. For the Maple Prime I had to do this about 1000 times before I landed on a prime number. That was surprisingly fast to me! It is a great object lesson in how dense the prime numbers really are.

So that you can join the fun without having to replicate my work, here is a small interactive Maple document that you can use to find prime numbers that draw ascii art of your source images. It has a tool that lets you preview both the pixelated image and the initial ascii art before you launch the search for the prime version.

With the launch of Maple 2017, we really wanted to showcase some of the amazing people that work so hard to make Maple. We wanted to introduce our developers to our awesome user community, put names to faces, and have some fun in the process.

We’ll be doing this Q&A session from time to time with team members from the Maple, MapleSim, Maple T.A. and Möbius development groups.

My first Q&A is with Math Architect, Paulina Chin. If you’re a regular MaplePrimes user, you’ll know her as @pchin. Let’s get right into the questions.

  1. What do you do at Maplesoft?

I’m a member of the Math Software group. Much of my time goes toward developing and maintaining parts of the Maple library, but I occasionally develop Maple content related to math education as well.

  1. What did you study in school?

I started in Applied Mathematics and then continued with graduate work in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. My graduate and post-doc research  were in the area of numeric computation.

  1. What area(s) of Maple are you currently focusing on in your development?

For many years, I’ve been working on the plotting and typesetting features in Maple. I also work on the Grading package and related applications.

  1. What’s the coolest feature of Maple that you’ve had a hand in developing?

The Typesetting (2-D math) system in Maple is undoubtedly the most challenging and complex project I’ve worked on, and it involves careful coordination among a team of developers. I’m not sure others would see it as cool, because the features are not flashy like some of the visualization features I’ve worked on. However, whenever we implement a new feature and it works well, it’s really satisfying because it makes mathematics that much more accessible to users.

  1. What do you like most about working at Maplesoft? How long have you worked here?

I’ve been at Maplesoft 17 years and my work has never been boring. I especially enjoy being surrounded by a very diverse and dedicated group of co-workers, and it’s terrific when we get new students, interns and visitors who come from all parts of the world. All of these people contribute to the great atmosphere here.

  1. Favorite hobby?

I like discussing books as much as reading them. I run several book clubs, including the one here at Maplesoft. I also enjoy working with young people and volunteer at my daughter’s high school, helping students train for programming contests.

  1. What do you like on your pizza?

Pineapple and hot peppers.

  1. What’s your favourite movie?

I have so many favourites that it’s hard to answer this question. At the moment, I might say Notorious, The Empire Strikes Back, and Annie Hall, but ask me again next week and I’ll probably give you a different list.

  1. What skill would you love to learn? (That you haven’t already) Why?

I wish I could play a musical instrument. I know a number of highly skilled amateur and professional musicians, and I’ve always admired their abilities.

  1. Who’s your favourite mathematician?

I’d have to say it’s Euclid. When I was in Grade 6, my teacher saw I was bored with the math exercises we were doing and gave me a book on geometric constructions. That was the start of a life-long fascination with math. I even named my cat Euclid but she didn’t live up to the name, as she turned out to be lovable but not very smart.

On 5/July/2017, Kitonum responded to the 3/July/2017 MaplePrimes question "How to perform double integration over subdomain" by providing code for a procedure IntOverDomain that implements Green's theorem applied to a planar region whose boundary is a simple, closed, rectifiable, oriented curve (SCROC by some authors).

I was intrigued. First, this is a significant extension of existing Maple functionalities. Second, the implementation admits boundaries defined piecewise with sections defined parametrically; or sections that are polygonal lines defined by a list of nodes.

But how was the line integral around such boundaries coded? In the worksheet "IntOverDomain_Deconstructed," I summarize the existing Maple functionality for implementing iterated double integrals over specified domains, then analyze how Kitonum coded Green's theorem as an extension of Maple's capabilities. After recognizing the great coding skills of Kitonum, I conclude with a short wishlist of related extensions that I would like to see added to Maple in the future.


Download the worksheet:

As a momentary diversion, I threw together a package that downloads map images into Maple using the Google Static Maps API.

If you have Maple 2017, you can install the package using the MapleCloud Package Manager or by executing PackageTools:-Install("5769608062566400").

This worksheet has several examples, but I thought I'd share a few below .

Here's the Maplesoft office


Let's view a roadmap of Waterloo, Ontario.


The package features over 80 styles for roadmaps. These are examples of two styles (the second is inspired by the art of Piet Mondrian and the De Stijl movement)


You can also find the longitude and latitude of a location (courtesy of Google's Geocoding API). Maple returns a nested list if it finds multiple locations.


The geocoding feature can also be used to add points to Maple 2017's built-in world maps.


Let me know what you think!

A couple of weeks ago, I recorded a short video that discussed various applications for the Statistics:-Fit command. One of the more interesting examples examined how manually adjusting the number of parameters used for a regression model affected the resulting adjusted r-squared value.

I won’t go into detail about r-squared here, but to briefly summarize: In a linear regression model, r-squared measures the proportion of the variation in a model's dependent variable explained by the independent variables. Basically, r-squared gives a statistical measure of how well the regression line approximates the data. R-squared values usually range from 0 to 1 and the closer it gets to 1, the better it is said that the model performs as it accounts for a greater proportion of the variance (an r-squared value of 1 means a perfect fit of the data). When more variables are added, r-squared values typically increase. They can never decrease when adding a variable; and if the fit is not 100% perfect, then adding a variable that represents random data will increase the r-squared value with probability 1. The adjusted r-squared attempts to account for this phenomenon by adjusting the r-squared value based on the number of independent variables in the model.

The formula for the adjusted r-squared is:


n is the number of points in the data sample

k is the number of independent variables in the model excluding the constant

By taking the number of independent variables into consideration, the adjusted r-squared behaves different than r-squared; adding more variables doesn’t necessarily produce better fitting models. In many cases, more variables can often lead to lower adjusted r-squared values. In particular, if you add a variable representing random data, the expected change in the adjusted r-squared is 0.

As such, the adjusted r-squared has a slightly different interpretation than the r-squared. While r-squared is perceived to give an indication of the measure of fit for a chosen regression model, the adjusted r-squared is perceived more as a comparative tool that can be useful for picking variables and designing models that may require less predictors than other models. The science of “gaming” models is a broad topic, so I won’t go into any more detail here, but there’s lots of great information out there if you are looking to learn more (here’s a good place to start).

The following example adjusts a fitted model by adding or removing variables in order to find better adjusted r-squared values.


The Import command reads a datafile into a new DataFrame.

ExperimentalData := Import(FileTools:-JoinPath(["Excel", "ExperimentalData.xls"], base = datadir));

The dataset has seven variables: time and experimental readings for 6 various concentrations. Removing “time” from our variable set, the convert command converts the values in the DataFrame to a Matrix of values.

ExMat := convert( ExperimentalData, Matrix )[..,2..7];

We start by fitting a model that includes predicting variables for each of the columns of data. We mark “Concentration A” as our dependent variable.

Fit( C + C2*v + C3*w + C4*x + C5*y + C6*z, ExMat[..,2..6], ExMat[..,1], [v,w,x,y,z], summarize=embed ):

From the above, we can observe that both the r-squared and adjusted r-squared are reasonably high, however only one of the coefficient values has a significant p-value, C3.

Note: Maple shows all p-values less than 0.05 in bold.

Let's try to fit the data again, this time keeping the two coefficients with the lowest p-values and the intercept.

Fit( C + C3*v + C5*w, ExMat[..,[3,5]], ExMat[..,1], [v,w], summarize=embed ):

From the above, we can see that the r-squared value does go down, however the adjusted r-squared goes up! Let's fit the model one last time to see if removing C5 increases or decreases the adjusted r-squared.

Fit( C + C3*v, ExMat[..,3], ExMat[..,1], [v], summarize=embed ):

We can see that the final adjusted r-squared value is lower than the previous two, so we are probably better to keep the additional C5 coefficient value.

You can see this example as well as a couple of other examples of using the Fit command in the following video:

You can download the worksheet here:

With Maple, you can create amazing visualizations that go far beyond the standard mathematical plots that you might typically expect (I wince every time I see yet another sine curve).

At your fingertips, you have

  • plotting primitives that can be assembled in new and novel ways
  • precise control over coloring (yay for ColorTools) and placement
  • an interactive coding environment with inline plots, giving you quick visual feedback over aesthetic changes
  • and a comprehensive mathematical programming language to glue everything together

Here, I thought I'd share a few of the visualizations I've really enjoyed creating over the last few years (and I'd like to emphasize 'enjoy' - doing this stuff is fun!)

Let me know if you want any of the worksheets.


Psychrometric chart with historical weather data for Waterloo, Ontario.


Ternary plot of the color of gold-silver-copper alloys


Spectrogram of a violin note played with vibrato


Colored zoom of the Mandelbrot set


Reporting dashboard for an Organic Rankine Cycle


Temperature-entropy plot of an ideal Rankine Cycle


Quaternion fractal


Historical sunpot data


Earthquake data


African literacy rates

This Saturday is Canada’s 150th birthday. As you can imagine, the country has been paying a lot more attention to this year’s anniversary than our usual low key approach, and as a Canadian company, we at Maplesoft decided to join in the fun.

And what better way for Maplesoft to celebrate Canada’s birthday than to create a maple leaf in Maple! 

So here is a maple leaf inspired by the Canada 150 logo, which was created by Ariana Cuvin, a student at the University of Waterloo and former co-op here at Maplesoft:

Here’s the code to reproduce this plot (more details can be found in this follow up post):





Know other ways to plot a maple leaf in Maple?  If so, please share them below - we’d love to see them!

While preparing for a recent webinar, I ran across something that didn't behave the same way in Maple 2017 as it did in previous releases. In particular, it was the failure of the over-dot notation for t-derivatives to display with the over-dot. Turns out that this is due to a change in behavior of typesetting that was detailed in the What's New page for Maple 2017, a page I had looked at many times in the last few months, but apparently didn't comprehend fully. The details are below.

Prior to Maple 2017, under the aegis of extended typesetting, the following two lines of code would alert Maple that the over-dot notation for t-derivatives should be used in the output display.

However, this changed in Maple 2017. Extended typesetting is now the default, but these two lines of code are no longer sufficient to induce Maple to display the over-dot in output. Indeed, we would now have

as output. The change is documented in the following paragraph

lifted from the help page 

Thus, it now takes the additional command

to induce Maple to display the over-dot notation in output.

I must confess that, even though I pored over the "What's New" pages for Maple 2017, I completely missed the import of this change to typesetting. I stumbled over the issue while preparing for an upcoming webinar, and frantically sent out help calls to the developers back in the building. Fortunately, I was quickly set straight on the matter, but was disappointed in my own reading of all the implications of the typesetting changes in Maple 2017. So perhaps this note will alert other users to the changes, and to the help page wherein one finds those essential bits of information needed to complete the tasks we set for ourselves.

And one more thing - I was cautioned that the "= true" was essential. Without it, the command would act as a query, echoing the present state of the setting, and not making the desired change to the setting.

Maple 2017 has launched!

Maple 2017 is the result of hard work by an enthusiastic team of developers and mathematicians.

As ever, we’re guided by you, our users. Many of the new features are of a result of your feedback, while others are passion projects that we feel you will find value in.

Here’s a few of my favourite enhancements. There’s far more that’s new - see What’s New in Maple 2017 to learn more.


MapleCloud Package Manager

Since it was first introduced in Maple 14, the MapleCloud has made thousands of Maple documents and interactive applications available through a web interface.

Maple 2017 completely refreshes the MapleCloud experience. Allied with a new, crisp, interface, you can now download and install user-created packages.

Simply open the MapleCloud interface from within Maple, and a mouse click later, you see a list of user-created packages, continuously updated via the Internet. Two clicks later, you’ve downloaded and installed a package.

This completely bypasses the traditional process of searching for and downloading a package, copying to the right folder, and then modifying libname in Maple. That was a laborious process, and, unless I was motivated, stopped me from installing packages.

The MapleCloud hosts a growing number of packages.

Many regular visitors to MaplePrimes are already familiar with Sergey Moiseev’s DirectSearch package for optimization, equation solving and curve fitting.

My fellow product manager, @DSkoog has written a package for grouping data into similar clusters (called ClusterAnalysis on the Package Manager)

Here’s a sample from a package I hacked together for downloading maps images using the Google Maps API (it’s called Google Maps and Geocoding on the Package Manager).

You’ll also find user-developed packages for exploring AES-based encryption, orthogonal series expansions, building Maple shell scripts and more.

Simply by making the process of finding and installing packages trivially easy, we’ve opened up a new world of functionality to users.

Maple 2017 also offers a simple method for package authors to upload workbook-based packages to the MapleCloud.

We’re engaging with many package authors to add to the growing list of packages on the MapleCloud. We’d be interested in seeing your packages, too!


Advanced Math

We’re committed to continually improving the core symbolic math routines. Here area few examples of what to expect in Maple 2017.

Resulting from enhancements to the Risch algorithm, Maple 2017 now computes symbolic integrals that were previously intractable

Groeber:-Basis uses a new implementation of the FGLM algorithm. The example below runs about 200 times faster in Maple 2017.

gcdex now uses a sparse primitive polynomial remainder sequence together.  For sparse structured problems the new routine is orders of magnitude faster. The example below was previously intractable.

The asympt and limit commands can now handle asymptotic cases of the incomplete Γ function where both arguments tend to infinity and their quotient remains finite.

Among several improvements in mathematical functions, you can now calculate and manipulate the four multi-parameter Appell functions.


Appel functions are of increasing importance in quantum mechanics, molecular physics, and general relativity.

pdsolve has seen many enhancements. For example, you can tell Maple that a dependent variable is bounded. This has the potential of simplifying the form of a solution.


Plot Builder

Plotting is probably the most common application of Maple, and for many years, you’ve been able to create these plots without using commands, if you want to.  Now, the re-designed interactive Plot Builder makes this process easier and better.

When invoked by a context menu or command on an expression or function, a panel slides out from the right-hand side of the interface.


Generating and customizing plots takes a single mouse click. You alter plot types, change formatting options on the fly and more.

To help you better learn Maple syntax, you can also display the actual plot command.

Password Protected Content

You can distribute password-protected executable content. This feature uses the workbook file format introduced with Maple 2016.

You can lock down any worksheet in a Workbook. But from any other worksheet, you can send (author-specified) parameters into the locked worksheet, and extract (author-specified) results.


Plot Annotations

You can now get information to pop up when you hover over a point or a curve on a plot.

In this application, you see the location and magnitude of an earthquake when you hover over a point

Here’s a ternary diagram of the color of gold-silver-copper alloys. If you let your mouse hover over the points, you see the composition of the points

Plot annotations may seem like a small feature, but they add an extra layer of depth to your visualizations. I’ve started using them all the time!


Engineering Portal

In my experience, if you ask an engineer how they prefer to learn, the vast majority of them will say “show me an example”. The significantly updated Maple Portal for Engineers does just that, incorporating many more examples and sample applications.  In fact, it has a whole new Application Gallery containing dozens of applications that solve concrete problems from different branches of engineering while illustrating important Maple techniques.

Designed as a starting point for engineers using Maple, the Portal also includes information on math and programming, interface features for managing your projects, data analysis and visualization tools, working with physical and scientific data, and a variety of specialized topics.


Geographic Data

You can now generate and customize world maps. This for example, is a choropleth of European fertility rates (lighter colors indicate lower fertility rates)

You can plot great circles that show the shortest path between two locations, show varying levels of detail on the map, and even experiment with map projections.

A new geographic database contains over one million locations, cross-referenced with their longitude, latitude, political designation and population.

The database is tightly linked to the mapping tools. Here, we ask Maple to plot the location of country capitals with a population of greater than 8 million and a longitude lower than 30.


There’s much more to Maple 2017. It’s a deep, rich release that has something for everyone.

Visit What’s New in Maple 2017 to learn more.

Meta Keijzer-de Ruijter is a Project Manager for Digital Testing at TU Delft, an institution that is at the forefront of the digital revolution in academic institutions. Meta has been using Maple T.A. for years, and offered to provide her insight on the role that automated testing & assessment played in improving student pass rates at TU Delft.


Modern technology is transforming many aspects of the world we live in, including education. At TU Delft in the Netherlands, we have taken a leadership role in transforming learning through the use of technology. Our ambition is to get to a point where we are offering fully digitalized degree programs and we believe digital testing and assessment can play an important role in this process.


A few years ago we launched a project with the goal of using digital testing to drastically improve the pass rates in our programs. Digital testing helps organize testing more efficiently for a larger number of students, addressing issues of overcrowded classrooms, and high teaching workloads. To better facilitate this transformation, we decided to adopt Maple T.A., the online testing and assessment suite from Maplesoft. Maple T.A. also provides anytime/anywhere testing, allowing students to take tests digitally, even from remote locations.


Regular and repeated testing produces the best learning results because progressive monitoring offers instructors the possibility of making adjustments throughout the course. The randomization feature in Maple T.A. provides each student with an individual set of problems, reducing the likelihood that answers will be copied. Though Maple T.A. is specialized in mathematics, it also supports more common question types like multiple choice, multiple selection, fill-in-the-blanks and hot spot. Maple T.A.’s question randomization, possibilities for multiple response fields per question and question workflow (adaptive questions) are superior to other options. By offering regular homework assignments and analyzing the results, we gain better insight into the progress of students and the topics that students perceive as difficult. Our lecturers can use this insight to decide whether to repeat particular material or to offer it in another manner. In many courses, preparing and reviewing practice tests comprise an important, yet time-consuming task for lecturers, and Maple T.A. alleviates that burden.


At TU Delft, we require all first-year students to take a math entry test using Maple T.A in order to assess the required level of math. Since the assessment of the student’s ability is so heavily dependent upon qualifying tests, it is extremely important for the test to be completed under controlled conditions. In Maple T.A., it is easy to generate multiple versions of the test questions without increasing the burden of review, as the tests are graded immediately. Students that fail the entry test are offered a remedial course in which they receive explanations and complete exercises, under the supervision of student assistants. The use of Maple T.A. facilitates this process without placing additional burden on the teacher. When the practice tests and the associated feedback are placed in a shared item bank in Maple T.A., teachers are able to offer additional practice materials to students with little effort. It makes it considerably easier on us as teachers to be able to use a variety of question types, thus creating a varied test.


Each semester, TU Delft offers an English placement test that is taken by approximately 200 students and 50 PhD candidates, in which students are required to formulate their reasons for their program choices or research topics. It used to take four lecturers working full-time for two days to mark the tests and report the results to participants in a timely manner. The digitization of this test has saved us considerable time. The hundred fill-in-the-blank questions are now marked automatically, and we no longer have to decipher handwriting for the open questions!


TU Delft is not alone in its emphasis on digital testing; it has a prominent position on the agendas of many institutions in Europe and elsewhere. These institutions are intensively involved in improving, expanding and advocating the positive results from digital testing and digital learning experiences. Online education solutions like Maple T.A. are playing a key role in improving the quality of digital offerings at institutions.

I am very pleased to announce a new user community centered around Maplesoft's online testing and assessment and courseware products. The new site is specifically for instructors and administrators currently using Maple T.A. or Möbius. This community of users are a small, specialised group who we want to bring together so they can share ideas and best practices. To find the community, go to either or

"The Maple T.A. Community has grown organically to support new developers as they pool their knowledge and queries. This has resulted in a fluid searchable structure, with answers available for all levels of question - from beginner to pushing the frontiers of what Maple T.A. has been designed to do. Our summer student interns rely on the Community as they become proficient in their question writing skills - and many have become contributors as they realise that they are in a position to teach others. Opening it out more broadly will be great in sharing good practice on a 'need to know now' basis.”

----Professor Nicola Wilkin, University of Birmingham


What content is in the community?

The community has many posts from active Maple T.A. and Möbius users from beginners to advanced users. The site is broken down into categories like 'Best Practices' - longer form posts that cover a broader concept in more detail and 'Quick Code snippets' that are small piece of code that you can drop straight into your question algorithms.

Much of the content is openly available and can be found by google, however there is additional content that can only be accessed by members of the community, such as the Maple T.A. school material which teaches you how to author content in Maple T.A. and Möbius.


Who runs the community

The community is jointly run by users based at the University of Birmingham, TU Wien, The University of Turin and TU Delft.


How does this fit into Mapleprimes?

It began as an offshoot of a private, internal customer forum. As this community grows, the ultimate goal is to eventually roll it into MaplePrimes proper. But this alternative site gave us the quickest way to get up and running. Maple T.A. and Möbius questions and posts are still welcome on MaplePrimes, and will continue to be monitored by Maplesoft.


How do I access the community?

You can find the community by going to either or


Where else can I get support for Maple T.A. and Mobiüs?

Official support for Maple T.A. and Möbius is provided by the wonderful Customer Success Team at Maplesoft. You can contact them at For other contact methods see



I am pleased to announce the public release of Möbius, the online courseware environment that focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. After months of extensive pilot testing at select leading academic institutions around the world, Möbius is now available to everyone for your online learning needs.

We are very excited about Möbius. As you can imagine, many of us here at Maplesoft have backgrounds in STEM fields, and we are truly excited to be working on a project that gives students a hands-on approach to learning math-based content.  You can’t learn math (or science, or engineering, or …) just by reading about it or listening to someone talk about it. You have to do it, and that’s what Möbius lets students do, online, with instant feedback.  Not only can students explore concepts interactively, but they can find out immediately what they’ve understood and what they haven’t - not a few hours after the lecture as they are reviewing their notes, not two weeks later when they get their assignments back, but while they are in the middle of learning the lesson.

During its pilot phase, Möbius was used by multiple institutions around the world for a variety of projects, such as preparing students in advance for their first year math and engineering courses, and for complete online courses.  Over one hundred thousand students have already used Möbius, and the experiences of these students and their instructors has fed back into the development process, resulting in this public release.  You can read about the experiences of the University of Waterloo, the University of Birmingham, and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics on our web site.

We are also happy to announce that Maplesoft has partnered with the University of Waterloo, one of the largest institutions in the world for STEM education, to provide institutions and professors with rich online courses and materials that enable students to learn by doing.  These Möbius courses are created by experts at the University of Waterloo for use by their own students and for their outreach programs, and will be made available to other Möbius users.  Course materials range from late high school to the graduate level, with initial offerings available soon and many more to follow.

Visit the Möbius section of our web site for lots more information, including videos, whitepapers, case studies, and upcoming user summits.

Ilias Kotsireas is a Professor and Director of the CARGO lab at Wilfrid Laurier University, in Waterloo Ontario.

Throughout my career as a teacher, I’ve had the opportunity to work with students from around the globe. I’ve been able to work with students in other countries, immersing myself in their culture and learning environment. This has allowed me to experience the differences in educational delivery first hand, and to assess how education is viewed in other parts of the world.

On more than one occasion, I’ve visited the city of Guangzhou, China, to teach summer and winter school courses, beginning in 2007 and most recently in 2015 and 2016. During this time, I have witnessed tremendous growth in the development of Chinese Universities, as well as Chinese culture as a whole.  For example, the two largest supercomputers in the world - according to the website  - are located in China.  Another indication of the scale of this extraordinary growth is the fact that China currently has more than 2,000 universities, government research facilities and laboratories.  Furthermore, China Central Television (CCTV) programs report that China is planning the creation of an additional 10 mega-cities, each comparable in size to Shanghai.

Ilias Kotserias stands with students and fellow professors at South China Normal University (SCNU) in Guangzhou, China.


Summer and winter school courses in China are incredibly intensive. Such courses can run for one or two weeks and include two lectures per day, one on the morning and one in the afternoon. A tremendous amount of material must be covered in a short amount of time to accommodate the entire course.

Overall, my experiences have shown that students in China are very enthusiastic about education. They are heavily engaged with the learning materials and often spend time with professors at the conclusion of a lecture to converse and ask questions about what they have just learned. Class sizes are significantly smaller and there is a lot of one-on-one time with students. Students in China take their studies very seriously; they are very focused and motivated to do well in their studies, and they bring a great deal of knowledge and curiosity to the classroom.  Professors cannot gloss over material or deliver a scripted lecture. Students hold professors accountable, and expect them to be knowledgeable and have a strong understanding of the material. They have a strong desire to learn and gain experiences and relevant skills that they can carry forward with them in their educational and professional careers.

Maplesoft graciously offered short term licenses to my students in China, so they could use Maple in the mathematics courses I was teaching. Using Maple allowed me to continue using an experimental approach to teaching that I use for my students back home in Canada.  This approach encourages students to start with simple experimentation that may also contain visual components, develop a plausible conjecture and subsequently attempt to solve it step by step.  This promotes a “learn by doing” paradigm that promotes active learning and helps students better understand key mathematical concepts. In a delightful episode, one Chinese student told me “I don’t understand your English accent,” but in teaching with Maple there are no accents I need to worry about!  Chinese students are inquisitive, respectful and conscientious; it is an absolutely gratifying experience working with them. 

I was first introduced to Maple when I was completing my Masters and Ph.D in France in the late 1990s. When I began teaching in 2001, I introduced Maple into my classrooms to improve my students’ ability to learn the materials, understand difficult concepts, and to create more sustainable engagement with them. Initially, it took some work to convince them to use Maple, as it was not among the conventional learning methods they were used to. Eventually students came to embrace Maple as a learning tool and I was able to use visual and interactive examples to engage them. With Maple, experimentation is at your fingertips and it allows me to incorporate an example-driven learning experience for my students.

It was a valuable experience to work with students from another culture and be able to engage them using the same method I use to engage my students back home. Maple is not only a powerful and convenient teaching tool, but it can also assist in bridging cultural gaps and creating a learning experience that is uniform across the globe.

   Maplesoft aims to promote innovation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in high school students by partnering with various organizations, and sponsoring initiatives in education, research and innovation. Every year, Maplesoft commits time, funds and people to enhance the quality of math-based learning and discovery and to encourage high school students to strengthen their math skills.

   One such organization we partner with is The Perimeter Institute, a leading centre for scientific research, training and educational outreach in foundational theoretical physics.  Maplesoft currently serves as its Educational Outreach Champion, supporting various initiatives that promote math learning and exploration. Perhaps the most popular of its student outreach program is the annual International Summer School for Young Physicists (ISSYP), a two-week camp that brings together 40 exceptional students from high schools across the globe.  Each year students receive a complimentary copy of Maple, and use the product to practice and strengthen their math skills.  The ISSYP program also uses Möbius, the comprehensive online STEM courseware platform from Maplesoft, to offer preparatory course materials to students.  Completing lessons in Möbius aid in making the summer program a more productive and dynamic experience for the students.


International Summer School for Young Scientists at Perimeter Institute


   Who Wants to Be a Mathematician is a competition organized by the American Mathematical Society (AMS) for high school students in North America. Maplesoft has been a sponsor of the contest for many years.  Maple T.A., the testing and assessment tool by Maplesoft, is used to administer the tests online, saving significant time and money for the organizers. When Maplesoft first introduced Maple T.A. to the contest, taking the competition from pen-and-paper tests to online tests, the number of contestants doubled, with about 2000 students participating in the contest. Maplesoft also donates prizes to the games in order to promote the use and love of math by high school students.  This year will be first time the competition moves international. Six students in the UK took the Round 2 qualifying test, with the use of Maple T.A., and qualified for the live, on-stage finals of the UK edition of the competition that took place at the 2017 Maths Fest in London. Maplesoft is also supporting the spread of the WWTBAM contest to Canada in 2017.

Who Wants to be a Mathematician finals

Maplesoft also sponsors two outreach initiatives in Texas A&M University.  The Summer Educational Enrichment (SEE) Math Program is a summer workshop attended by gifted middle school students. Students spend two weeks exploring ideas such as algebra, geometry, graph theory, and topology.  The University also conducts the Integral Bee every year, a math based contest for high school students.

In addition to the above key projects, throughout the year Maplesoft also sponsors and is associated with a number of other competitions, conferences, and educational initiatives. A few of these are listed below.

  • The Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair is a yearly, statewide science and engineering fair open to all 7th through 12th grade students.  An important objective of their program is to attract young people to careers in science and engineering while developing skills essential to critical thinking.
  • FIRST Robotics Competition is a high school robotics competition. Each year, teams of high school students and mentors work during a six-week period to build game-playing robots that weigh up to 120 pounds.


FIRSTRobotics Competition

  • ScienceExpo Conference is a student-run event that engages students with STEM-related opportunities and workshops
  • SWATposium is an annual robotics conference that brings together nearly 40 First Robotic Competition teams from both Canada and the United States for a day of guest speakers, workshops and social activities.



  • FIRST LEGO League gives elementary and middle school students and their adult coaches the opportunity to work and create together to solve a common problem.


FIRST LEGO League at St. Luke's School in Waterloo

   Maplesoft’s objective of these sponsorships is to support those who inspire and channel young minds to be STEM focussed. By engaging them in exciting contests and programs the hope is that they build science, engineering, and technology skills at a young age and grow to be innovators and technology leaders of tomorrow.

Recently, I came across an addendum to a problem that appears in many calculus texts, an addendum I had never explored. It intrigued me, and I hope it will capture your attention too.

The problem is that of girding the equator of the earth with a belt, then extending by one unit (here, taken as the foot) the radius of the circle so formed. The question is by how much does the circumference of the belt increase. This problem usually appears in the section of the calculus text dealing with linear approximations by the differential. It turns out that the circumference of the enlarged band is 2*Pi ft greater than the original band.

(An alternate version of this has the circumference of the band increased by one foot, with the radius then being increased by 0.16 ft.)

The addendum to the problem then asked how high would the enlarged band be over the surface of the earth if it were lifted at one point and drawn as tight as possible around the equator. At first, I didn't know what to think. Would the height be some surprisingly large number? And how would one go about calculating this height.

It turns out that the enlarged and lifted band would be some 616.67 feet above the surface of the earth! This is significantly larger than the increase in the diameter of the original band. So, the result is a surprise, at least to me.

This is the kind of amusement that retirement affords. I heartily recommend both the amusement and the retirement. The supporting calculations can be found in the attached worksheet:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Last Page 1 of 20