Many of you enjoyed our profile on one of our developers, Paulina Chin, so we’re happy to bring you another one!
Today, we’ll be talking with John May, Senior Developer of Maple. Let’s get started.
- What do you do at Maplesoft?
Until recently I was consulting on-site at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory helping people there more effectively solve their engineering problems using Maplesoft products. But my main job that I am back to full time now is the development and maintenance of various parts of the Maple library.
- What did you study in school?
I studied both Pure and Applied Mathematics at the University of Oregon, focusing a lot on Abstract Algebra. In graduate school, I specialized more in computation mathematics like computer algebra and numerical analysis. My Ph.D. work focused on effective numerical algorithms for problems in polynomial algebra – with implementations in Maple!
- What area(s) of Maple are you currently focusing on in your development?
Right now I am focused on addressing complaints I’ve gotten from engineers about the usability of units with other parts of the math library.
- What’s the coolest feature of Maple that you’ve had a hand in developing?
A lot of the cool things I’ve built live pretty deep in the internals of Maple. I’ve done a lot of meta-heuristic tuning to seamlessly integrate high-performance libraries into top-level Maple commands.
I had a lot of fun developing a lot of the stuff for manipulation and visualization of colors in the ColorTools package.
- What do you like most about working at Maplesoft? How long have you worked here?
I started working at Maple in 2007, but I’ve been a Maple user since 1997. I love being part of the magic that brings powerful algorithmic mathematics to everyone. The R&D team is also full of eccentric nerds who are great fun to work with.
- Favourite hobby?
It varies by the season, but right now it is prime for mountain biking in southern California. I ride my local trails a couple times a week, and when I get I chance, I love to get away on epic bikepacking adventures (like this one: https://www.bikemag.com/features/two-wheeled-escape-one-hour-from-l-a/ this is me: https://cdn.bikemag.com/uploads/2016/05/16File.jpg ).
- What do you like on your pizza?
Anything and everything. Something different every time. My all-time favorite pie my from grad school days is the “Rio Rancho” from the dearly departed That’s Amore Pizza (which was next to the comic book store and across the street from North Carolina State University). It was an olive oil and mozzarella pizza with chopped bacon that was covered in sliced fresh roma tomatoes and drizzled with ranch dressing when it came out of the oven.
- What’s your favourite movie?
It’s really hard to pick just one. So, I’ll go with the safe answer and say the greatest movie of all time, and “Weird Al” Yankovic’s only foray into movies, UHF, is my favorite.
- What skill would you love to learn? (That you haven’t already) Why?
Another hard one. I feel like I’ve dabbled in lots of things that I would like to get better at. At the top of the list is probably unicycling. I’d love to get good enough to play Unicyle Football or do Muni (mountain unicyling).
- Who’s your favourite mathematician?