Tom 4

744 Reputation

9 Badges

19 years, 213 days

My title is Chief Evangelist for Maplesoft. I interpret that as “the guy who’s been around forever”. I started my professional Maplesoft career in 1989 as a contractor trying to earn money to feed my grad student habits, like eating and visiting my parents. Before that I was introduced to what was then referred to as the Maple programming language and to my surprise, Maple immediately helped me figure things out in my courses and more importantly it made me look smarter in front of potential grad supervisors. That’s how the love affair began.

Since then I’ve held various senior positions including Vice President of Marketing and Market Development. I’ve witnessed the transformation of this company from a start-up doing something strange called “computer algebra” to a well-recognized, leading solutions company with a growing and ever diversifying user community. I’m even more thrilled at the fact that so much of our new achievements are in the world of engineering modeling and simulation which was my specialization in University.

I did my degrees at the University of Waterloo. My Bachelor and Master’s degrees were in Systems Design Engineering and my PhD in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in surface modeling for CAD systems. Along the way, I dabbled in control systems, physical systems modeling, and computer-assisted education. I still stay connected to the academic world through my position as Adjunct Professor in Systems Design Engineering, University of Waterloo, and as a member of the Board of Governors, Renison College affiliated with the University of Waterloo.

I was born in Seoul South Korea but raised in Toronto, Canada. I moved to Waterloo, Canada to attend university and never left. I tell the Maplesoft people that it’s because of the company but it’s because I met my wonderful wife Dr. Sharon here :-)

MaplePrimes Activity

These are replies submitted by Tom 4

I suspect that if you were an undergrad, your name would be "resthardnowork" :-) T4.
what's happening is not necessarily a bad thing. The Commons concept is really a reflection of a lot of forums that have a primary "chatty" area. But those sites rarely have open blogging. I too am starting to doubt the usefulness of Commons and my gut says, we should remove it. I wouldn't mind holding off for a week or so (until I get back). As far as your role goes, we'll rejig things. There's more than enough need for a good team ... perhaps How Do I expands to multiple sections ... e.g. Math, GUI, Other Products, etc. T4.
I too think online Help would be a good idea. Part of the reason why it hasn't happened is the amount of material. As worksheet documents, conversion to HTML is pretty straight forward but the final refinement needed to ensure quality is non-trivial ... will keep this thought alive with our developers. T4.
I'm currently taking a break from conference duties here in the heart of Texas ... (Austin @ the National Instruments NI Week). What better way to relax than to get sucked into an interesting discussion on education ... First, many students did better than me in Calculus (and many other courses for that matter) ... so what I say may not mean a hill of beans to others ... but looking at it now, I think I ultimately learned more about calculus than the vast majority of those students who "did well". Why? because I stuck with the math sequence and I got a job that required persistent exposure to math as math. I find that I (emphasis on the first person) need to see things from multiple perspectives before anything makes sense. So question of "what is the best book?" is less meaningful for me as I've never found any single book for any topic (technical or otherwise) that I found effective on its own. In fact, in the calculus case, it wasn't until particular courses in senior years (e.g. Finite Element Methods, PDEs course, Simulation course, other) that certain fundamental connected facts and notions finally came together ... in a blinding (or illuminating) instant a world of math became clearer and everything seemed make so much more sense. But that's just me, I suspect. Most would not be that extreme. Part of the consequence is that I tought myself to be very frivolous and capricious when it came down to things like books and knowledge resources ... actually this was something my parents taught me. I've never been hesitant to buy an extra book ... on any topic ... even when I was poor ... it can only help ... in some sense, it's the act of trying to reconcile multiple sources of knowledge that actually clarifies a complex topic (that "journey vs. destination" thing). Don't know if this at all helps you out ... but it's quite theraputic to debate this while I'm trying settle down after a hellish afternoon of setting up conference displays. See y'all later T4 from Austin.
Not that I would contradict the site's webmaster but I didn't "really want" that particular phrase ... I wanted a phrase that sort of laid out what the site is about ... as opposed to a kitchy marketing phrase like "Command the infinite wisdom of the universe" type thing ... I'm actually open to suggestions. I'll be gone on a business trip for a week. Though I may be able to log on, contact might be infrequent so I'll let Will monitor this thread a bit ... and who knows maybe there's a better alternative. T4.
I'm not a prof and haven't been an undergrad for over 15 years ... so I can't give you great recommendation on specific contemporary books. Certainly Stewart and Anton are considered the biggies in this industry. I do have some thoughts though on books that helped me learn calculus: - books designed for non-techies. I discovered this little secret when I decided to take some summer courses at another university. I went to Waterloo engineering ... reputed to be a high-standard, tough program. So the books tended to reflect this. I took two courses: differential equations and statistics geared towards social science types over the summer. The books that we used for those might be decribed as "dumbed down", but I found the general language, style of examples, and lack of depth to be very helpful. Yes, I did well in the courses because they were easier courses but more importantly, I did better in the later courses back at Waterloo that depended on these concepts simply because the books were more accessible. I'm not suggesting that you take more or other courses but looking for books for students whose majors are not hard core math, physics, or engineering might be a nice starting point before going back to the "real stuff". This would include math for soft sciences and even calculus for 2-year college courses. Some people may be embarrassed by this "remedial" approach ... just wear dark glasses and a raincoat when you go into the bookstore :-) - the other secret book for a bunch of us was "Advanced Engineering Mathematics" by Kreizig (there are others with the same title). Again, these books were lighter treatments of a wide range of topics like ODEs, PDEs, linear algebra, statistics, etc. We had separate courses and more substantial books for all of these but many of us had a copy of this treasure as a springboard the launch into a topic. - the third secret was really Maple. For many of the math courses, Maple allowed me to try a bunch of problems without the pain. Doing a bit of extra work without fear did wonders for my comprehension. I know this are very indirect pseudo answers to your specific question but the reality is I didn't learn calculus well in first year ... in fact I basically relearned it on my own in grad school ... this may be a good segue for my own tirade against math education in Canada ... but that too will be another day. Thanks for the post and good luck. Tom 4.
Rather than having to hop over to Maplesoft to do an extended search why don't we just add an option to search "Maplesoft" or "Web" to our MaplePrimes? T4.
... looking forward to your engineering blogs as well (your modulo arithmetic posting doesn't count) :-) T4.
Differences are subtle. I've always considered Applied Science to deal with the analytical/mathematical/scientific side of engineering. Whereas "Engineering" to me is the total package including industrial concerns, feasibility, economics, ergo, etc. This is not a formal or accepted definition ... just mine for now. For this site, a good compromise would be "Applied Science & Engineering". So unless someone wants to only deal with the non-mathematical or scientific side of engineering, the label should suffice and be less confusing. Looking forward to your "Engineering" blog :-) T4.
Hi Bill, Thanks for your endorsement of the site. And thanks for the link ... I think you are well within the guidelines of the site in mentioning another system. Actually, I was wondering what had happened to Axiom and now I know. The NAG folks had said that they were moving away from the Axiom fold but I was unsure where it landed. BTW, I followed your Axiom Gear link and bought myself a cool Axiom trucker's cap (told you that bribery was not out of the question to encourage participation :-) ). Hope to see you continue your activities on our site. Cheers. T4.
The ratings wouldn't be user to user but an absolute scale. I.e. once you pass 100 posts, you achieve a bronze brain, 200 posts = silver, etc. There may also be a nomination process for additional status (e.g. resident Guru, Great Samaritan, etc.). Thanks for the other comments. T4.
In theory, it sounds good ... and indeed there are lots of sites that will encourage non-tech posts. In practice, picking the right default categories is an art I suspect. My observations are the blogging facilities are challenging the basic notions of "Everything but ..." and "MapleCommons". At this point, I'm not ready to throw either out quite yet. Even in light of good blog traffic and light forum traffic. In my mind, I still make the division between blogs and forums as basic size of content and spontaneity of the content ... but these thoughts are not carved in stone and will be reviewed with a bit more time under our belts. Thanks for your comments. T4.
Thanks Will ... along that line, how about a "Product suggestions list". This will provide a convenient place for anyone, including developers to view a list ... I know this could potentially be a slippery slope, but if users are going to take the time to post suggestions, we should try our best to make the information flow ... T4.
You're the first one to attach a .mpl . We'll clear this up. It's not our intent to overly restrict file types. T4.
Thanks for your tip Joe. I'll still pass on the comment to the developers as it seems like something that should be a bit easier. T4.
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