Maple is a general-purpose commercial computer algebra system. It was first developed in 1980 by the Symbolic Computation Group at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
Since 1988, it has been developed and sold commercially by Waterloo Maple Inc. (also known as Maplesoft), a Canadian company also based in Waterloo, Ontario. The current major version is version 14 which was released in April 2010.
Users can enter mathematics in traditional mathematical notation. Custom user interfaces can also be created. There is extensive support for numeric computations, to arbitrary precision, as well as symbolic computation and visualization. Examples of symbolic computations are given below.
Maple incorporates a dynamically typed imperative-style programming language which resembles Pascal. The language permits variables of lexical scope. There are also interfaces to other languages (C, Fortran, Java, MATLAB, and Visual Basic). There is also an interface with Excel.
Maple is based on a small kernel, written in C, which provides the Maple language. Most functionality is provided by libraries, which come from a variety of sources. Many numerical computations are performed by the NAG Numerical Libraries, ATLAS libraries, or GMP libraries. Most of the libraries are written in the Maple language; those have viewable source code.
Different functionality in Maple requires numerical data in different formats. Symbolic expressions are stored in memory as directed acyclic graphs. The standard interface and calculator interface are written in Java. The classic interface is written in C.
The first concept of Maple arose from a meeting in November 1980 at the University of Waterloo. Researchers at the university wished to purchase a computer powerful enough to run Macsyma. Instead, it was decided that they would develop their own computer algebra system that would be able to run on more reasonably priced computers.
The initial development of Maple proceeded very quickly, with the first limited version appearing in December 1980. Researchers tried and discarded many different ideas creating a continually evolving system. Maple was demonstrated first at conferences beginning in 1982. The name is a reference to Maple’s Canadian heritage.
By the end of 1983, over 50 universities had copies of Maple installed on their machines. In 1984, the research group arranged with Watcom Products Inc to license and distribute Maple.
In 1988 Waterloo Maple Inc. was founded. The company’s original goal was to manage the distribution of the software. Eventually, the company evolved to have an R&D department where much of Maple’s development is done today, but significant development of Maple continues at university research labs including: the Symbolic Computation Laboratory at the University of Waterloo; the Ontario Research Centre for Computer Algebra at the University of Western Ontario; and labs at other universities worldwide.
In 1989, the first graphical user interface for Maple was developed and included with version 4.3 for the Macintosh. Prior versions of Maple included only a command line interface with two dimensional output. X11 and Windows versions of the new interface followed in 1990 with Maple V.
In 1999, with the release of Maple 6, Maple included some of the NAG Numerical Libraries, and made improvements to arbitrary precision arithmetic.
In 2003, the current "standard" interface was introduced with Maple 9. This interface is primarily written in Java (although portions, such as the rules for typesetting mathematical formulae, are written in the Maple language). The Java interface was criticized for being slow; improvements have been made in later versions, although the Maple 11 documentation recommends the previous (“classic”) interface for users with less than 500 MB of physical memory. This classic interface is no longer being maintained.
Between the mid 1995 and 2005 Maple lost significant market share to competitors due to a weaker user interface. In 2005, Maple 10 introduced a new “document mode”, as part of the standard interface. The main feature of this mode is that math is entered using two dimensional input, so that it appears similar to formulae in a book. In 2008, Maple 12 added additional user interface features found in Mathematica, including special purpose style sheets, control of headers and footers, bracket matching, auto execution regions, command completion templates, syntax checking and auto-initialization regions. Additional features were added for making Maple easier to use as a MATLAB toolbox.
In September 2009 Maple and Maplesoft were acquired by the Japanese software retailer Cybernet Systems.
* Maple 14: April 2010
The Maple engine is used within several other products from Maplesoft:
* Maple T.A., Maplesoft’s online testing suite, uses Maple to algorithmically generate questions and grade student responses.
Listed below are third party commercial products that no longer use the Maple engine:
* Versions of MathCad released between 1994 and 2006 included a Maple-derived algebra engine (MKM, aka Mathsoft Kernel Maple), though subsequent versions use MuPAD.
Maplesoft sells both student and professional editions of Maple, with a substantial difference in price (US$99.00 compared to US$1,895.00, respectively). Later student editions (from version 6 onwards) have not placed computational limitations, but rather come with less printed documentation. More recently the academic version and student version have also required additional purchases to access MapleNet, MATLAB Toolbox and maintenance which are all included in the standard purchase.
Single-user editions of Maple are locked to the hardware of the computer they run on. This means that Maple may refuse to start if certain parts of the computer's hardware are removed or replaced. In this case the customer support has to be called, in order to receive a new licence file for the updated hardware.
1. ^ "Advanced technology for design, modeling and high-performance simulation saves engineers time and effort". Maplesoft. 29 April 2010. http://www.maplesoft.com/company/publications/articles/view.aspx?SID=53397. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
* Maplesoft, division of Waterloo Maple, Inc. home website