## Meeting Maple

#### You can't break the program by experimenting!

Maple is a large computer program which can do many useful mathematical tasks. It has extensive numerical, graphical, and symbolic manipulation capabilities. It is installed on most Rutgers computer systems. There are several computer programs with similar capabilities. The most widely distributed programs are Mathematica and Maple. Maple is installed on almost every computer system at Rutgers, and I have a copy at home. So that's what I use and can comfortably discuss. 7/1/2002

Maple can be run in a command line interface or in its own window. From a Unix command line, just type maple which begins the program or in a window system (such as X) type xmaple &. 7/1/2002

A big calculator
All Maple commands should be ended with either : or ; and then followed by pressing the return or enter key. I admit with some embarrassment that I sometimes type a command and then forget either to type a semicolon or a colon, or I forget to press "Enter", and sit there wondering why the system is malfunctioning. 7/1/2002

You can type 3+2; at a command line. The prompt that Maple gives is usually >. See what the result is. Then try 17*3; and check the result. Then try %+4; to see what Maple thinks % means -- it should mean the previous result. Also try 3^2; to learn what ^ means. You might also try 5^2: to learn what ending a command with : rather than ; means. You can check your understanding by typing 2*%; afterwards and predicting the answer before it appears. Note that the command 67/8; returns the value 67/8. Maple won't "simplify" or approximate unless requested. If the command evalf(%); is then given, Maple immediately returns 8.375000000. The function evalf evaluates an expression as a floating-point number with the default number of digits (you can change the accuracy to 20 places with the command DIGITS:=20;. 7/1/2002

Maple uses := for assignment of values and uses = when testing for equality. I have made numerous mistakes with this notation. 7/8/2002

Symbolic capabilities
Maple can remember variable names. I tend to use longer variable names because I forget what the names mean. I make errors typing, though, and longer names increase the chance of mistakes. You could try a:=445; followed by a^2; and see what the result is. 7/1/2002

Lots of functions
Maple has many functions built into it: many, many, many functions. I'll concentrate here on just a few whose usefulness for our cryptographic studies will be apparent. 7/1/2002