Beginning Maple

The first or second recitation meeting in Math 251 is held in a microcomputer lab rather than in the usual recitation classroom. Specific times and places for these meetings will be announced. In the computer lab, students use the program Maple to work through material on arithmetic, algebra, calculus, and graphing, following the outlines given in the pdf files linked here:

Arithmetic Algebra Calculus Graphing

Below we give some further information about using Maple at Rutgers, and why one might want to do so.

Maple at Rutgers
The simplest way to begin using Maple is at a Rutgers computer lab (equipped with either Windows or Mac OSX; if you don't like the flavor you get you can reboot and choose the other). These computers are all equipped with the current version of Maple. So login, look for Maple, and start it running.

Other ways of getting access to Maple are discussed on the Rutgers software site Here is a direct link to the relevant page:

Student information about Maple at Rutgers
(Rutgers login required)

Alternatively, it is possible to run the program remotely, in a browser, through the site However, this site experienced problems in in the past, and students are advised not to rely on it for last-minute preparation of labs.

Why learn Maple?
Almost every aspect of the practice of mathematics, both pure and applied, has been improved and amplified in recent decades by the widespread availability of "computer algebra systems", CAS. This technology is much more than just algebra, of course. It is a collection of systematic and powerful programs that permit algebraic manipulation

and numerical approximation
and graphing

The freedom to work with "exact" symbolic computation, with numerical approximation (with specified accuracy) and with visual display of data (human beings learn much more from pictures than from lists of numbers!) is very useful. Maple provides an environment which allows all of these, plus the freedom to move among these representations of mathematical ideas.

Much teaching and research is now improved by access to powerful programs which allow experimentation. Examples can be discovered and explored which are useful for instruction. These programs can also be used to further understand complicated phenomena which are not easily explained.

Computer help
Many students have graphing calculators. These are useful, but are limited by speed and memory size. Simple errors may occur. There are large computer programs with powerful numerical, symbolic, and graphical capabilities. These still may have the potential for errors (as some of the contents of the link discuss), but much effort has gone into their programming. The most widely distributed programs are Maple, Mathematica, and Derive. Here Maple will be favored, since almost every large computer system at Rutgers has Maple installed. These programs are not infallible but they can be very helpful. Other programs are available with special capabilities. For example, Matlab, a program originally directed at problems of linear algebra, is widely used at the Engineering School.

How to get those answers
The answers to the questions above were obtained with the following Maple instructions. Please: these instructions are not given to impress you, but rather to show how easy it is to get the answers.

Other references and programming in Maple
There's a nice "reference card" with common Maple commands which students may find helpful: please look at this University of Michigan web page.

Maple is also a programming environment. Maple programs are called procedures. The Maple language has many statements supporting program flow such as if ...then and while and do etc., and also has a variety of data types. There's no time in this course to teach this material, but students should know that programming is possible.

There are a number of books on Maple programming which can be found with an easy web search. My current favorite is Maple: A comprehensive introduction by Roy Nicolaides and Noel Walkington, Cambridge University Press ($75).

Created by Steven Greenfield. Maintained by the course coordinator and the computer coordinator. (for 2016/17 Eugene Speer, speer@math, and Gregory Cherlin, cherlin@math); if in doubt contact the undergraduate office.