J F Ogilvie

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18 years, 34 days

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These are replies submitted by J F Ogilvie

     During a visit to University of Waterloo in 1984 summer, my host, aware of my interest in software for symbolic computation since 1971 and use of such software since 1973 (first IBM PL1-Formac on IBM360/50 computer in Australian National University), mentioned that an open demonstration of Maple would occur during one hour in a particular location.  When I arrived, I saw 48 terminals operating off a DEC VAX11/780 computer, with 47 occupants of the associated chairs.  I sat at the remaining terminal and tried some tests with Maple 4.2 (?).  I had previously undertaken some major symbolic calculations with Reduce 2 on a DEC KL10 computer, that I was constrained to use between midnight and 7 a.m. because, when I was running Reduce, all other users of that not insignificant computer had the impression that it had ceased to operate.  In contrast, there were I, and 47 other users of Maple on a less powerful computer, all (supposedly) happily trying various calculations, each likely thinking that he had the computer all to himself.

     The credit for this achievement must be partitioned between the VAX VMS operating system, which provided a much improved 'architecture' with virtual memory for multiple users than the KL10 computer, and the designers of Maple, who developed a small kernel that operated efficiently in the fraction of the total memory allocated to each user. 

     When Maple in recent versions with the 'standard' (or Java) interface takes so long to open, and sometimes also to close, a session, I recall warmly that rapid response.  Now that that standard interface is so large and bloated, with no compensating property that could not be arranged otherwise, there is a real need to return to the roots of Maple, and so to provide a worthy successor to the 'classic' interface.

It seems strange to distinguish between physics and science.

Although some tests reveal that some defects in preceding releases have been corrected, such as the grave error in matrix multiplication in Maple 15.00 that was not even corrected in Maple 15.01 -- and there was no Maple 15.02. a few tests of the LinearAlgebra package in Maple 16.00 and 16.01 show that the procedure IntersectionBasis has been greatly modified -- with disastrous results.  Is it asking too much that rigorous testing be enforced before any modifications are released to the public users?

An interactive electronic textbook of title Mathematics for Chemistry with Symbolic Computation

was originally (edition 1.0) published by Maplesoft.  The present edition, 3.2, is available from

www.cecm.sfu.ca.  The author is nominally J. F. Ogilvie, but G. Doggett, G. J. Fee and M. B. Monagan

have made major contributions, and several other persons have made other contributions.

About the plots, they worked perfectly up to Maple 13 in both interfaces, but in Maple 14 and 15 classic interfaces if numbers are expressed to greater than 16 decimal digits without being underflow or overflow they are not plotter properly; this fault, which was reported during beta testing of Maple 15 (by somebody else) but ignored by Maplesoft then, does NOT occur in the 'standard' interface.

About the matrix multiplication, SI is the inverse of a diagonal matrix formed by inserting a sequence of values from a singular-value decomposition.  You can find the code in the SVD section of my procedure 'wmlinfit' in section 8.308 of my book Mathematics for Chemistry, available in edition 3.0 for Maple 14 and edition 3.1 for Maple 15 at www.cecm.sfu.ca.  The two excerpts of code were taken from these two sources.

For the classic interface, Maple 15.01, like Maple 15 and Maple 14 does not permit the plotting of numbers specified to more than 16 digits, for instance when those values arise as a difference in a sense of residuals between two numbers calculated at precision Digits := 24.

Maple 15.01, like Maple 15, but unlike Maple 14 and preceding releases, fails to multiply two matrices properly.

For instance, whereas

     w2xi := LinearAlgebra:-Transpose(SI) . V;    

worked perfectly in Maple 14 and preceding releases, in Maple 15.01, it is necessary to have

      SIt := Matrix(LinearAlgebra:-Transpose(SI), storage=rectangular);
      w2xi := SIt . V;

The quality control in the production of each new release of Maple is abominable.

I am delighted to read about the significant developments in Maple 15, which appear highly attractive in several areas.  Whilst reading the descriptions of these developments, I was struck also by the deficiencies in English grammar and composition exposed in the text.  Is it really too much to expect that employees of a Canadian company (despite its Japanese ownership) be not only numerate but also literate and articulate?

The suggestions made to improve the plotting of large or small numbers in Maple are highly valid and must be implemented.  It is unnecessary, however, to have such small, or big, numbers to find fault with Maple, because of inadequate quality control.  For instance, with the classic interface, trying to plot numbers at precision greater than Digits := 16 causes an error message with Maple 14, unlike preceding versions.  As one of the virtues of software for computer algebra is its ancillary ability to handle large and small numbers, and numbers at arbitrary precision, such an error message should never occur.  Let us hope, not in vain, that this fault will be corrected in Maple 15.

This honour is well deserved.  Robert has always been helpful and incisive in his constructive

responses to diverse and sundry questions of Maple and mathematics.

At this season of mostly nocturnal computing, before the days become long again during the summer season, we can naturally look forward to the next release of Maple, likely Maple 14 unless somebody has 13.5 as a favourite number.  Will Maple 14 contain, in its package of Scientific Constants, atomic masses from this century to replace those from 1993 -- despite the 2003 values being available for at least seven years?  Will Maple 14 contain, in its package of Scientific Constants, fundamental physical constants from this century, specifically those from the 2006 update, rather than the values from 1997?  Will Maple 14 contain, in its package of Scientific Constants, full compliance with SI notation and symbols, instead of such nonsense as 'amu'?  Or will the dark ages -- nocturnal computation -- of ignorance and obsolescence continue?  Time will tell.

It is sad and unfortunate that the myopic management of Maplesoft felt necessary the selling of this company, especially to new owners outside Canada.  The management seems to lack direction.  As the Maple product becomes mature in some ways, certainly it is appropriate to develop related products, but it is important also to understand the origin of Maple -- as a means of assisting the students of science and engineering in University of Waterloo -- and by extension, students anywhere in the world -- to undertake mathematical calculations analogously to the means of assisting those students with arithmetical calculations with WATFOR and WATFIV.  Now Maplesoft seems to have a bloated personnel structure that not only develops little enhancement of Maple but also fails to eliminate enduring deficiencies, but the presence of this unproductive staff inflates the cost of operating the company and thus of the primary product.  As saturation of the traditional market approaches in some regions, there is a perceived tendency to try to compensate for the limited return from Canadian, USA and certain western European customers with inflated prices for clients in other regions -- blatant capitalism in its most obnoxious form. 

     Will the maple leaf as symbol or icon for Maple be now replaced with a red disc representing the rising sun -- as the sun sets on Canadian ingenuity?

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