Maple or Mathematica

62 views
Skip to first unread message

Steven Hodgen

unread,
Jul 5, 2002, 2:05:31 AM7/5/02
to
Hello,

I'm going to purchase the student version of either Maple or Mathematica.
My purpose in writing this post is to better determine which I should get.
For students the price is very close, although Maple is slightly less. The
small amount isn't enough to make price an important factor. What is
important is overall capability and ease of use. I'm interested in symbolic
and numeric capability. Graphic abilities are also important, as well as
the ability to create and use existing interactive applications.

What are each programs strengths and weaknesses, etc. What type of user
would do better with one versus the other.

Thank you very much for your replies.

--Steven

Alec Mihailovs

unread,
Jul 5, 2002, 3:50:23 AM7/5/02
to
In brief, Maple represents the Force, and Mathematica is often referred as
the Dark Force.

Maple uses the standard mathematics notation, such as sin(x) or sqrt(x).
Mathematica uses
square brackets instead and capital letters, Sin[x] and Sqrt[x].

To execute a command in Maple, one clicks Enter. To execute a command in
Mathematica,
one clicks Shift+Enter.

Maple newsgroup, comp.soft-sys.math.maple, is unmoderated. Mathematica
newsgroup,
comp.soft-sys.math.mathematica is moderated and censored (any posting
telling that there are
other CAS systems better than Mathematica, is censored, in particular).

Maple has better symbolic and numerical capabilities, see
http://lie.uwaterloo.ca/odetools/comparison.html for ODE.

Mathematica has better marketing department. More people are working there
than in their
research division. Also, people selling Mathematica are paid better than
people developing it.

Both of them, Maple and Mathematica, are very buggy, much more buggy than
even
Linux and Microsoft together, and much more than one can expect from a
modern CAS system.

Both of them have very poor customer support. However, Maple User Group and
the Maple
newsgroup mentioned above, provide excellent help and support from thousands
of people using
Maple. Comparing the amount of messages in the Maple newsgroup and in the
Mathematica newsgroup,
one can tell that Mathematica users have much more trouble than Maple users.
From my personal
experience, Maple is much more user friendly. People having any previous
programming experience,
won't have any trouble with Maple. Mathematica, for some historical reasons,
uses rather odd
programming language, different from any others, so previous programming
experience is not
only not helpful, but will also interfere with Mathematica's programming
paradigm.

If you are going to buy a student version, then the most important question
is what system is
in use in your school. If both systems are used, check which is used in the
classes you are going
to take. What the point to have the better system, Maple, if your lecturer
is using Mathematica?

Best wishes,
Alec Mihailovs
http://webpages.shepherd.edu/amihailo/


"Steven Hodgen" <sho...@mindspring.com> wrote in message
news:ag3d96$5om$1...@slb0.atl.mindspring.net...

Carl

unread,
Jul 5, 2002, 5:34:20 AM7/5/02
to
Take the time to read the parts of the documentation that are relevant
to your needs.

The Mathematica documentation can be found at
http://documents.wolfram.com/v4/

I am not sure where Maple shares its documentation.


"Steven Hodgen" <sho...@mindspring.com> wrote in message news:<ag3d96$5om$1...@slb0.atl.mindspring.net>...

Tim Klein

unread,
Jul 5, 2002, 3:28:17 AM7/5/02
to

I have never used Maple, only Mathematica. The reason is simple: my
University has Mathematica. All of the upper division math and physics
courses I am taking require it. Does your school have a similar bias?
If so, your decision is made: go with what your school uses.

OTOH, if your school is neutral, I am not sure which is better, having
only used one. Mathematica is very capable. The licencsing is
Draconian, but it is usefull, and a nicely integrated system if you use
the frontend.

Tim
--
======================================================
== Timothy Klein || teece@silver_NO-UCE_klein.net ==
== ------------------------------------------------ ==
== "Hello, World" 17 Errors, 31 Warnings... ==
======================================================

Thomas Roelz

unread,
Jul 5, 2002, 8:02:54 AM7/5/02
to
Steven Hodgen schrieb:


Alec Mihailovs" <al...@mihailovs.com> already provided a good summary of
both systems. However I would like to add some notes knowing Maple better
than Mathematica. The following comments relate to Mathematica 4.1 and
Maple 7.

Programming language
====================
Alec stated that Mathematica has an odd programming language. That
may be true in the sense that there is a bit of learning expense
in the beginning since it may imply "exotic" paradigms like pattern
matching (which can turn out to be a benefit in certain situations).

The structure of the Maple language OTOH is easy to understand if you
already have some programming experience (purely procedural).

But...

The Maple language is inconsistent due to the fact that it has evolved
for a long time. Different order of parameters in similar functions
are ugly. The spelling of command names is not consistent, e.g.
with/without intermediate capital letters etc.

Mathematica syntax has been "designed" to be consistent which makes it
very elegant and efficient.

==> This may be relevant if you want to get deeper into programming.


Graphics
========
The quality of graphics that can be produced with Mathematica are
outstanding and slightly superior to Maple but the handling of graphics
in the notebooks is very bad. Once a graphic has been displayed you
can't do anything with it. If you want to change some of the very
many options (viewpoint, lighting, coloring etc.) you have to
re-evaluate it again and again. This is _very_ cumbersome if you
want to "play around" with it (what you almost always will do).

Maple graphics OTOH are "live" (OpenGL). One click with the mouse and
you can spin them around (3D) in full display which is _very_ convenient
for exploring purposes. A context menu reachable via the right mouse
button lets you adjust the most important options and any change there
is put into practice almost instantly.

==> As you said that graphics are important that may also be relevant.

Nevertheless
============
As Alec already pointed out the environment you will find at school is
most important. Aside from the facts mentioned above this should be
the key criterion.

Tom

--

Steve Bellenot

unread,
Jul 5, 2002, 9:55:06 AM7/5/02
to
In article <ag3d96$5om$1...@slb0.atl.mindspring.net>,

You have already had several good answers on your question. I would
agree that your choice should match the support in place at your
institution.

On the otherhand if you just want to have a system to use there are
also free systems available to students. Look at mupad and maxima

mupad
http://www.mupad.de/ http://www.sciface.com/

maxima
http://www.ma.utexas.edu/maxima.html
--
http://www.math.fsu.edu/~bellenot
bellenot <At/> math.fsu.edu
+1.850.644.7189 (4053fax)

Tim Klein

unread,
Jul 5, 2002, 7:23:48 PM7/5/02
to
In article <3dcV8.11522$071.2...@news1.news.adelphia.net>, Alec Mihailovs wrote:
> In brief, Maple represents the Force, and Mathematica is often referred as
> the Dark Force.

That is a good one! Of, course you just threw your objectivity out the
window ... :-)

> Maple uses the standard mathematics notation, such as sin(x) or
> sqrt(x). Mathematica uses square brackets instead and capital
> letters, Sin[x] and Sqrt[x].

While annoying at first, the Mathematica notation *very* consistent. It
can be made to show standard notation when wnated.

> To execute a command in Maple, one clicks Enter. To execute a command
> in Mathematica, one clicks Shift+Enter.

This actually serves a purpose. You can make your input line
arbitrarily long.



> Maple newsgroup, comp.soft-sys.math.maple, is unmoderated. Mathematica
> newsgroup, comp.soft-sys.math.mathematica is moderated and censored
> (any posting telling that there are other CAS systems better than
> Mathematica, is censored, in particular).

This is a good point. My biggest problem with Mathematica is the
egomania built into it, seemingly imparted from its creator.

> Maple has better symbolic and numerical capabilities, see
> http://lie.uwaterloo.ca/odetools/comparison.html for ODE.

How?

> Mathematica has better marketing department. More people are working
> there than in their research division. Also, people selling
> Mathematica are paid better than people developing it.
>
> Both of them, Maple and Mathematica, are very buggy, much more buggy
> than even Linux and Microsoft together, and much more than one can
> expect from a modern CAS system.

Wouldn't this just amount to Microsoft bugs? I mean, near-zero plus
near-infinity is still just near infinity. :-0 (That was a joke, of course I
know Linux has *some* bugs).

> Both of them have very poor customer support. However, Maple User
> Group and the Maple newsgroup mentioned above, provide excellent help
> and support from thousands of people using Maple. Comparing the amount
> of messages in the Maple newsgroup and in the Mathematica newsgroup,
> one can tell that Mathematica users have much more trouble than Maple
> users. From my personal experience, Maple is much more user friendly.
> People having any previous programming experience, won't have any
> trouble with Maple. Mathematica, for some historical reasons, uses
> rather odd programming language, different from any others, so
> previous programming experience is not only not helpful, but will also
> interfere with Mathematica's programming paradigm.

Mathematica doesn't have an odd programming language. If you look under
the hood, it is just a functional programming language, ala LiSP. While
functional languages are less popular, they lend themselve very well to
AI type tasks. The first CAS (Macsyma) was written in LiSP. It also
has procedural and logic based methods grafted onto it to make you feel
better, if that is all you know (sad for you). The programming of
Mathematica is one of its strong points. The really silly part was that
Wolfram implemented a functional programming system on top of C, and then
called it 'revolutionary.' Yeah, right. A functional programming
language is *so* revolutionary.

> If you are going to buy a student version, then the most important
> question is what system is in use in your school. If both systems are
> used, check which is used in the classes you are going to take. What
> the point to have the better system, Maple, if your lecturer is using
> Mathematica?
>
> Best wishes,
> Alec Mihailovs
> http://webpages.shepherd.edu/amihailo/
>

I would like to try Maple one of these days (Do they also have a Linux
version?). Right now, I can't justify it, as I need Mathematica for
school. On the downside, both are *outrageously* expensive (if you are
not a student). One of these days I would like to implement a full
featured CAS, and give it away under the GPL. Speaking of GPL, Maxima
is based on Macsyma (old US. DOE project, the first CAS), and is
realeased freely under the GPL. It is very capable, but has very terse
documentation, and suffers from an ugly interface. But for the price,
you can't beat. MuPAD, also free (but only as in beer, not as in
speech), is OK, but not quite as mature.

In the end, this question is probably like asking which is better, Word
or WordPefect (that is, before a monopolistic criminal drove WordPerfect
out of business). In the end, it is not all that usefull a question.
Both can do what you need. Some will have a preference towards one, but
it will be based almost entirely on opinion. You eventually end up
using what fits into your environment.

I thought there was a comment about interactive graphics in this
message. Anyway, you can have interactive graphics with Mathematica,
they just aren't turned on by default, as they are experimental. Even
better, you can download a free OpenGL renderer pluging that is very
nice.

Jay Belanger

unread,
Jul 6, 2002, 12:39:42 PM7/6/02
to

Tim Klein <teece@silver_NO-UCE_klein.net> writes:

> In article <3dcV8.11522$071.2...@news1.news.adelphia.net>, Alec
> Mihailovs wrote:
> > In brief, Maple represents the Force, and Mathematica is often referred as
> > the Dark Force.
>
> That is a good one! Of, course you just threw your objectivity out the
> window ... :-)

Well, as for the second part of Alec's statement, he didn't say that
Mathematica is the Dark Force, only that it is often referred to as
such. So that is merely a statement of fact, and shouldn't lose him
any objectivity points. Now, if he had said that Mathematica was
indeed the Dark Force, then, well, that would just be a statement of
fact, and shouldn't lose him any objectivity points :)

> > If you are going to buy a student version, then the most important
> > question is what system is in use in your school. If both systems are
> > used, check which is used in the classes you are going to take. What
> > the point to have the better system, Maple, if your lecturer is using
> > Mathematica?

If you are only going to plug in formulas that someone gives you,
then you need to use the same system as your instructor, of course.
But if you really want to learn about CASs in general, I would think
you'd be better off using one that the instructor isn't using.

> I would like to try Maple one of these days (Do they also have a Linux
> version?). Right now, I can't justify it, as I need Mathematica for
> school. On the downside, both are *outrageously* expensive (if you are
> not a student). One of these days I would like to implement a full
> featured CAS, and give it away under the GPL. Speaking of GPL, Maxima
> is based on Macsyma (old US. DOE project, the first CAS), and is
> realeased freely under the GPL. It is very capable, but has very terse
> documentation, and suffers from an ugly interface.

The documentation is being fixed, as well as the interface. If you
have specific suggestions, you should probably write to the devel
newsgroup (you can find it at http://maxima.sourceforge.net)

> But for the price, you can't beat. MuPAD, also free (but only as in
> beer, not as in speech), is OK, but not quite as mature.

Perhaps not, but MuPAD has an awful lot of work being done on it. If
you'd settle for a CAS which is gratis as opposed to libre, then you
should check it out. (It is only gratis in certain circumstances
though, such as if you are a student...)

Another free (as in speech) CAS is Yacas
(http://yacas.sourceforge.net). It doesn't have the capabilities of
the others mentioned, but it has a lot of really nice features, and
should definitely be looked at.

Jay

Nevin Kapur

unread,
Jul 6, 2002, 5:54:34 PM7/6/02
to
"Steven Hodgen" <sho...@mindspring.com> writes:

> I'm going to purchase the student version of either Maple or Mathematica.
> My purpose in writing this post is to better determine which I should get.
> For students the price is very close, although Maple is slightly
> less.

A factor you might consider is Maple's less restrictive licensing.
Maple's student licensing allows you to install it on more than one
machine simultaneously, provided it is used "...only on a single user
on a single computer at one time". This is important if you would use
multiple platforms. As far as I know your copy of Mathematica is tied
to one computer.

-Nevin

Bill Rowe

unread,
Jul 7, 2002, 2:29:04 PM7/7/02
to
In article <3dcV8.11522$071.2...@news1.news.adelphia.net>,
"Alec Mihailovs" <al...@mihailovs.com> wrote:

>In brief, Maple represents the Force, and Mathematica is often referred as
>the Dark Force.

a rather biased viewpoint

>Maple uses the standard mathematics notation, such as sin(x) or
>sqrt(x). Mathematica uses square brackets instead and capital letters,
>Sin[x] and Sqrt[x].

True and for good reason. There are problems with trying to implement
standard mathematical notation as close as possible. Should sin(x) be
read as a function named "sin" of x or should it be read as a variable
named "sin" times x? The problem is standard matematical notation is not
entirely consistent. Notation in Mathematica is designed to be
consistent and avoid this problem.

>Maple has better symbolic and numerical capabilities, see
>http://lie.uwaterloo.ca/odetools/comparison.html for ODE.

This site only shows a specific version of Maple has better capability
to solve ODEs than a specific version of Mathematica. It does not
support your assertion that Maple has better symbolic and numerical
capabilities than Mathematica.

If solving ODEs are critical to your needs then this should clearly be a
factor in a decision to buy one or the other of these programs. It is
worth noting the site states Mathematica version 4.1 performed better
than Maple version 6 but poorer than Maple version 7 and that the
current version of Mathematica is 4.2. The point being one needs to be
very careful about benchmarks and overly general assertions.

>From my personal experience, Maple is much more user friendly. People
>having any previous programming experience, won't have any trouble
>with Maple. Mathematica, for some historical reasons, uses rather odd
>programming language, different from any others, so previous
>programming experience is not only not helpful, but will also
>interfere with Mathematica's programming paradigm.

This is undoubtedly true. Maple uses a proceedural programming paradigm
which is very common. While Mathematica allows proceedural programming
it is much more efficiently programmed using what Mathematica refers to
as functional programming. Since this is unique to Mathematica (as far
as I know) there is a rather steep learning curve before one acquires
the ability to use Mathematica efficiently.

>If you are going to buy a student version, then the most important
>question is what system is in use in your school. If both systems are
>used, check which is used in the classes you are going to take. What
>the point to have the better system, Maple, if your lecturer is using
>Mathematica?

This is sound advice

--
PGPKey ID: 0xEF09EAE5

Richard Fateman

unread,
Jul 7, 2002, 4:06:15 PM7/7/02
to

Bill Rowe wrote:

> <snip>


re sin(x) vs Sin[x].
Most (not all) other systems prefer to have an explicit
multiplication "*" which disambiguates most of the notation.

Wolfram chose to have implicit multiplication as in 3x.
Oddly enough, this forced sin(x) to become sin[x].

Neither is standard math, but Wolfram's is not even standard
programming.


> This site only shows a specific version of Maple has better capability
> to solve ODEs than a specific version of Mathematica. It does not
> support your assertion that Maple has better symbolic and numerical
> capabilities than Mathematica.


If you wish to read a review suggesting why the DESIGN of Mathematica
is bad, and not just the implementation (that is, current version)
is lacking in some respect, then look at my review of Mathematica
in J. Symbolic Computing/ also on my web site.
www.cs.berkeley.edu/~fateman/papers/mma.review.pdf

Of course, a similar close examination of Maple may be in order.

<<<snip> Mathematica's programming language is less user friendly...


>
> This is undoubtedly true. Maple uses a proceedural programming paradigm
> which is very common. While Mathematica allows proceedural programming
> it is much more efficiently programmed using what Mathematica refers to
> as functional programming. Since this is unique to Mathematica (as far
> as I know) there is a rather steep learning curve before one acquires
> the ability to use Mathematica efficiently.


While Wolfram would like you to think that he invented all the language
features of Mathematica, in fact he borrowed heavily from several
pre-existing language streams including logic programming (pattern
matching), functional programming (in particular Lisp)....

If you like functional programming, you should learn more about
it and see that it is hardly "unique to Mathematica".


>
>
>>If you are going to buy a student version, then the most important
>>question is what system is in use in your school. If both systems are
>>used, check which is used in the classes you are going to take. What
>>the point to have the better system, Maple, if your lecturer is using
>>Mathematica?
>>
>
> This is sound advice
>
>


I agree.

Bill Rowe

unread,
Jul 7, 2002, 11:00:34 PM7/7/02
to
In article <3D289EA5...@nowhere.net>,
Richard Fateman <nos...@nowhere.net> wrote:

>Most (not all) other systems prefer to have an explicit
>multiplication "*" which disambiguates most of the notation.
>
>Wolfram chose to have implicit multiplication as in 3x.
>Oddly enough, this forced sin(x) to become sin[x].

But the point remains. Standard mathematical notation includes implicit
multiplication and is ambiguous to some extent. It is only by training
almost every one recognizes the notation "sin(x)" to be a function of x
rather than an implicit multiplication.

In any computer system it is necessary to eliminate such ambiguity.
Obviosly, this can be done in a number of different ways. Which way is
better is largely a matter of personal preference.

>Of course, a similar close examination of Maple may be in order.
>
><<<snip> Mathematica's programming language is less user friendly...
>>
>> This is undoubtedly true. Maple uses a proceedural programming paradigm
>> which is very common. While Mathematica allows proceedural programming
>> it is much more efficiently programmed using what Mathematica refers to
>> as functional programming. Since this is unique to Mathematica (as far
>> as I know) there is a rather steep learning curve before one acquires
>> the ability to use Mathematica efficiently.
>
>
>While Wolfram would like you to think that he invented all the language
>features of Mathematica, in fact he borrowed heavily from several
>pre-existing language streams including logic programming (pattern
>matching), functional programming (in particular Lisp)....

I simply am not familiar with other usages of functional programming.
Hence, I indicated the paradigm was unique to Mathematica *as far as I
knew*. TMy lack of knowledge regarding this minor point isn't really
important. What is important is this paradigm is less common than the
proceedural paradigm used in languages such as Fortran, Pascal, C etc.
The end result is learning to use Mathematica efficiently requires a
significant investment of time for most people.

>If you like functional programming, you should learn more about
>it and see that it is hardly "unique to Mathematica".

It isn't a matter of liking or not liking proceedural programming. It is
simply true programs that use the functional paradigm generally run less
efficiently in Mathematica than programs that use the functional
paradigm.

From my viewpoint, the choice of Maple vs Mathematica is mostly a matter
of personal preference. Either has considerable capability. Neither is
perfect for all usages. Debating which is better is akin to debating
whether Macs are better than PCs and is rather pointless.

--
PGPKey ID: 0xEF09EAE5

Richard Fateman

unread,
Jul 7, 2002, 11:47:32 PM7/7/02
to

Bill Rowe wrote:

> In article <3D289EA5...@nowhere.net>,
> Richard Fateman <nos...@nowhere.net> wrote:
>
>
>>Most (not all) other systems prefer to have an explicit
>>multiplication "*" which disambiguates most of the notation.
>>
>>Wolfram chose to have implicit multiplication as in 3x.
>>Oddly enough, this forced sin(x) to become sin[x].
>>
>
> But the point remains. Standard mathematical notation includes implicit
> multiplication and is ambiguous to some extent. It is only by training
> almost every one recognizes the notation "sin(x)" to be a function of x
> rather than an implicit multiplication.


Actually, anyone who has encountered the sin/cos/tan functions would
be pretty likely to understand that. And
that is why it is so annoying that in Mathematica this notation is
a multiplication.


>
> In any computer system it is necessary to eliminate such ambiguity.
> Obviosly, this can be done in a number of different ways. Which way is
> better is largely a matter of personal preference.


And convention. Actually sin x is even more conventional. If you
want to see a few tens of thousands of utterances to a web-based
integration program, you can see what the general www inhabitant
interested in symbolic integration answers thinks is mathematical
notation.
I allow people to choose different languages. Here are some
(from today) from someone who chose the Mathematica language option
for tilu:

connected 134 ! lang= Mathematica, limits =nil integrand = exp(cos(x))
connected 135 ! lang= Mathematica, limits =(0 twopi) integrand = exp(cos(x))
connected 136 ! lang= Mathematica, limits =nil integrand = exp(cos(x))
connected 137 ! lang= Mathematica, limits =nil integrand = exp(n*cos(x))
connected 138 ! lang= Mathematica, limits =nil integrand = exp(2*i*x) * exp(3*c
os(x))
connected 139 ! lang= Mathematica, limits =nil integrand = exp(i*x) * exp(3*cos
(x))
connected 140 ! lang= Mathematica, limits =nil integrand =x^4*exp(-a*x^2)
connected 141 ! lang= Mathematica, limits =nil integrand =exp(-a*x^2)
connected 142 ! lang= Mathematica, limits =nil integrand =x*exp(-a*x^2)
connected 143 ! lang= Mathematica, limits =nil integrand =x * exp(-a*x^2)
connected 144 ! lang= Mathematica, limits =nil integrand =exp(-a*x^2)


If he/she had selected an alternative parser, each of these expressions
would have worked.

I think the choice of a computer algebra system overall is a complicated
decision, and the user language would generally not be as important
as other issues. Like which system is used in your educational
institution...

RJF


>

Gottfried Barthel

unread,
Jul 8, 2002, 12:39:32 PM7/8/02
to

One point that might also be interesting: Almost all of the Maple code
base is written in Maple's own language and is accessible -- you can
study the code of procedures and use them as a basis for own
developments. Only a rather small part, mainly consisting of very basic
time-critical routines, is "built-in" and not accessible. I heard or
read that the unaccessible "black box" core of Mathematica is
considerably larger -- I couldn't check it myself, but experts in this
newsgroup should know.

Maple started as a project by mathematicians to provide tools for
mathematicians -- Mathematica, if I understand correctly, started as a
project by a physicist. There is nothing wrong about that -- in my
opinion, mathematics has enormously profited from input from physics and
physicists --, but it might account for some basic differences in the
attitude.

One more remark: Both, Maple and Mathematica, are general purpose
systems that cover an ever increasing wide range of topics. As soon as
it comes to the specific needs of a limited field, you will most likely
find specialized systems that provide much better tools for the purpose
at hand.

Regards,

Gottfried Barthel

Fachbereich Mathematik und Statistik
Universitaet Konstanz

PS: I am using Maple

Frank Miles

unread,
Jul 8, 2002, 1:28:36 PM7/8/02
to
In article <slrnaicajl...@keats.liebchen.tck>,

Tim Klein <teece@silver_NO-UCE_klein.net> wrote:
>
>I would like to try Maple one of these days (Do they also have a Linux
>version?). Right now, I can't justify it, as I need Mathematica for
>school. On the downside, both are *outrageously* expensive (if you are
>not a student). One of these days I would like to implement a full
>featured CAS, and give it away under the GPL. Speaking of GPL, Maxima
>is based on Macsyma (old US. DOE project, the first CAS), and is
>realeased freely under the GPL. It is very capable, but has very terse
>documentation, and suffers from an ugly interface. But for the price,
>you can't beat. MuPAD, also free (but only as in beer, not as in
>speech), is OK, but not quite as mature.

Yes there's a Linux version, and it runs on Debian as well as rpm-based
systems. While the results of any computer math system always need
to be checked, I can't remember when Maple has crashed on me under Linux.
I still miss some of the features, capabilities, and mathematical care of
Macsyma -- which crashed regularly on me under Windows.

>In the end, this question is probably like asking which is better, Word
>or WordPefect (that is, before a monopolistic criminal drove WordPerfect
>out of business). In the end, it is not all that usefull a question.
>Both can do what you need. Some will have a preference towards one, but
>it will be based almost entirely on opinion. You eventually end up
>using what fits into your environment.

Another vote for determining what might be most used at a particular
university -- at this one Maple is site-licensed to students (on
university-owned computers) and staff and faculty. Makes the choice
pretty simple, especially now that Macsyma is gone. Of course, I'd be
interested in hearing comparisons between Macsyma (the commercial version,
RIP), and Maxima (the public domain version).

-frank
--

Charles Blair

unread,
Jul 8, 2002, 2:27:46 PM7/8/02
to
I've heard people mention maxima, mupad, and yacas as freeware (subject
to conditions for mupad) alternatives. Pari might be worth considering.
I have only used it a little. It does number theory and algebra
stuff but I don't think it does numerical things like linear algebra
or differential equations.

Bill Rowe

unread,
Jul 9, 2002, 12:48:40 AM7/9/02
to
In article <3D290AC...@nowhere.net>,
Richard Fateman <nos...@nowhere.net> wrote:

>Bill Rowe wrote:

>> But the point remains. Standard mathematical notation includes implicit
>> multiplication and is ambiguous to some extent. It is only by training
>> almost every one recognizes the notation "sin(x)" to be a function of x
>> rather than an implicit multiplication.
>
>
>Actually, anyone who has encountered the sin/cos/tan functions would
>be pretty likely to understand that.

Agreed. But there is an obvious difference between what a person
understands and what a computer understands

>And that is why it is so annoying that in Mathematica this notation is
>a multiplication.

Here you basically re-affirmed what I wrote below

>> In any computer system it is necessary to eliminate such ambiguity.
>> Obviosly, this can be done in a number of different ways. Which way is
>> better is largely a matter of personal preference.

>I think the choice of a computer algebra system overall is a complicated


>decision, and the user language would generally not be as important
>as other issues. Like which system is used in your educational
>institution...

I very strongly agree with you here. Any system involves tradeoffs given
inconsistencies in mathematical notation as commonly used.

--
PGPKey ID: 0xEF09EAE5

Dylan Thurston

unread,
Jul 9, 2002, 2:16:58 PM7/9/02
to
In article <3D289EA5...@nowhere.net>, Richard Fateman wrote:
><<<snip> Mathematica's programming language is less user friendly...
>>
>> This is undoubtedly true. Maple uses a proceedural programming paradigm
>> which is very common. While Mathematica allows proceedural programming
>> it is much more efficiently programmed using what Mathematica refers to
>> as functional programming. Since this is unique to Mathematica (as far
>> as I know) there is a rather steep learning curve before one acquires
>> the ability to use Mathematica efficiently.
>
>
> While Wolfram would like you to think that he invented all the language
> features of Mathematica, in fact he borrowed heavily from several
> pre-existing language streams including logic programming (pattern
> matching), functional programming (in particular Lisp)....
>
> If you like functional programming, you should learn more about
> it and see that it is hardly "unique to Mathematica".

See, for instance, the newsgroup comp.lang.functional and its FAQ at
http://www.cs.nott.ac.uk/~gmh//faq.html . I personally find functional
programming a very powerful paradigm, more understandble than imperative
programming, and easier to write sophisticated algorithms in.

I don't know if Mathematica is the best exemplar; for a while, it had
some misfeatures that made it hard to program robustly in, notably
dynamically scoped variables. They've fixed that one, at least.

--Dylan

Carl Devore

unread,
Jul 10, 2002, 2:24:24 PM7/10/02
to

One can "do" functional programming in Maple also, so one's preference for
functional programming should not be used to decide between the two.


In a recent international numerical analysis / programming competition
(sponsored by SIAM and written by Professor Lloyd Nick Trefethen) in which
teams including Professor Robert Israel, me, and 18 other teams received a
perfect score, several of the teams have published their solutions. (See
http://web.comlab.ox.ac.uk/oucl/work/nick.trefethen/hundred.html). At
least two of the perfect entrants *easily* obtained *all* the answers with
Mathematica, sometimes with a single command. (See
http://www.stanwagon.com and
http://mathworld.wolfram.com/news/2002--5-25_challenge). By contrast, I
had a great struggle getting some of the answers from Maple. For example,
some numerical integrals needed to be broken into several pieces and each
piece transformed in a different way, whereas Mathematica seems to figure
all that out by itself. Problems 1, 4, 5, and 9 have remarkably simple
solutions in Mathematica that cannot be duplicated in Maple (without major
low-level programming). None of the problems has a remarkably simple
solution in Maple (that I am aware of) which cannot be duplicated by
Mathematica.

I think that Mathematica is the true winner of SIAM's and Trefethen's
contest, despite the fact that Professor Trefethen is a renown expert with
Matlab.

J.C. Randerson

unread,
Jul 10, 2002, 10:00:37 PM7/10/02
to
VERY interesting post. It is probably true that Mathematica is more
functionally complete than Maple.

However, I don't use Mathematica for other reasons: I can't stand
Mathematica's *license*,whereby you can't load it on more than one
machine without a ridiculous fee. Also, the student version has this
annoying footnote "Printed By Mathematica For Students" at the bottom
of every page, making everything you print very corny looking. In
addition, Wolfram's lofty claim that the secret of the universe is no
more than "3 or 4 lines of Mathematica code" is an absolute turnoff. I
see no evidence that Wolfram's cellular automata 'rules' will displace
the current laws of physics. Why the hell should I give that pompous
ass any of my hard earned money? It's almost like buying something
from Microsoft.

As a result, I'm pleased to use Maple and Scientific Notebook. I get
decent products that work well without extortionist conditions or "I'm
the next Einstein" BS.

Just another point of view,

J.C. Randerson
Pueblo, Colorado

Carl Devore <dev...@math.udel.edu> wrote in message news:<Pine.LNX.4.33.02071...@envy.math.udel.edu>...

Heike Koch-Beuttenmueller

unread,
Jul 11, 2002, 5:48:33 AM7/11/02
to

Carl schrieb:

> Take the time to read the parts of the documentation that are relevant
> to your needs.
>
> The Mathematica documentation can be found at
> http://documents.wolfram.com/v4/
>
> I am not sure where Maple shares its documentation.

The pdf-documentation is only available for users with support. but you can download a free trial version
with documantation to test Maple.

>

Tim Klein

unread,
Jul 12, 2002, 3:45:27 PM7/12/02
to
In article <5ba17a08.02071...@posting.google.com>, J.C. Randerson wrote:
> VERY interesting post. It is probably true that Mathematica is more
> functionally complete than Maple.
>
> However, I don't use Mathematica for other reasons: I can't stand
> Mathematica's *license*,whereby you can't load it on more than one
> machine without a ridiculous fee. Also, the student version has this
> annoying footnote "Printed By Mathematica For Students" at the bottom
> of every page, making everything you print very corny looking. In
> addition, Wolfram's lofty claim that the secret of the universe is no
> more than "3 or 4 lines of Mathematica code" is an absolute turnoff. I
> see no evidence that Wolfram's cellular automata 'rules' will displace
> the current laws of physics. Why the hell should I give that pompous
> ass any of my hard earned money? It's almost like buying something
> from Microsoft.
>
> As a result, I'm pleased to use Maple and Scientific Notebook. I get
> decent products that work well without extortionist conditions or "I'm
> the next Einstein" BS.
>
> Just another point of view,
>
> J.C. Randerson
> Pueblo, Colorado

I'm with you on the 'Wolfram is ass' sentiment. However, I do like
Mathematica, and it is required for most of the upper division physics
and math classes at my school, so I am a bit stuck with it.

One note: I found a way to get rid of the 'Printed by Mathematica for
Students' crap. It is kind of a pain, but it works:

Use TexSave to save the whole notebook as a LaTeX document. Compile it
with Latex, and print it that way. On the downside, setting up LaTex
and dvips to find the mma fonts and styles, was a PITA.

Thomas Richard

unread,
Jul 16, 2002, 8:49:43 AM7/16/02
to
Heike Koch-Beuttenmueller <ko...@vr-web.de> wrote:

> The pdf-documentation is only available for users with support. but you can download a free trial version
> with documantation to test Maple.

Recently, the Learning Guide and the Getting Started Guide have been
made available for download: see, e.g., http://www.maple4students.com


--
Thomas Richard
Maple Support
Scientific Computers GmbH
http://www.scientific.de

Lovecraftesque

unread,
Jul 17, 2002, 2:16:01 PM7/17/02
to
On Thu, 04 Jul 2002 23:05:31 -0700, Steven Hodgen wrote:

> What are each programs strengths and weaknesses, etc. What type of user
> would do better with one versus the other.

Another factor to bear in mind is that Wolfram Research, the company
that sells Mathematica, has a reputation of being the Microsoft of the
computer algebra world. Interpret this however you like.

Bill Rowe

unread,
Jul 17, 2002, 11:53:51 PM7/17/02
to
In article <pan.2002.07.17.11....@yahoo.com>,
Lovecraftesque <Lovecra...@yahoo.com> wrote:

> Another factor to bear in mind is that Wolfram Research, the company
>that sells Mathematica, has a reputation of being the Microsoft of the
>computer algebra world.

If so, it is a grossly inaccurate comparison. Wolfram has considerable
viable competition as this thread clearly indicates. It seems
competition to Microsoft for lots of thier software particularly the OS,
is largely relegated to small markets with little broad appeal.

--
PGPKey ID: 0xEF09EAE5

Jean Andolina

unread,
Jul 18, 2002, 5:56:13 AM7/18/02
to
> Another factor to bear in mind is that Wolfram Research, the company
> that sells Mathematica, has a reputation of being the Microsoft of the
> computer algebra world. Interpret this however you like.

I hardly think that Maple is the Apple of the computer algebra world,
considering they don't even seem to be able to make a Macintosh
version anymore!!

Jens-Peer Kuska

unread,
Jul 18, 2002, 7:01:11 AM7/18/02
to


But Mathematica has. Perhaps because Stephen Jobs invest some money
into Wolfram Reserach.

Regards
Jens

Lupo LeBoucher

unread,
Jul 18, 2002, 10:41:57 PM7/18/02
to
In article <bjrowe-1C2B95....@nnrp06.earthlink.net>,

Considering how many CAS there are to choose from, nobody is the M$ of
CAS. But Wolfram's marketing department has everybody else beat. From my
freshman year, people in academia and industry have been pushing
Mathematica at me.
Maple, on the other hand, seems to be good at integrating their kernel in
other products, like the Computer Extender, or Matlab or (I think)
MathCAD.

Though I have about 10 more years of experience with Mathematica, I've
found Maple to be a lot easier to use, and a lot more likely to have a
built in module which does what I need (mostly, physics type things:
Poincare maps, Lie symmetries, etc). Maybee MM is better for other
people's uses: it ain't for mine.

-Lupo
"It keeps you fit - the alcohol, nasty women ... bad food - It's all very
good for you."-Bon Scott <i...@io.com>

Jay Belanger

unread,
Jul 19, 2002, 9:35:11 AM7/19/02
to
Bill Rowe <bjr...@earthlink.net> writes:

On the other hand, some think that both Microsoft and Mathematica
put marketing above quality, and both have obnoxious licenses.

Jay

Cliff Mitchel

unread,
Jul 22, 2002, 5:52:01 AM7/22/02
to
> On the other hand, some think that both Microsoft and Mathematica
> put marketing above quality, and both have obnoxious licenses.

If their idea of marketing is to keep paying for the development of
free web sites like mathworld.wolfram.com, integrals.wolfram.com and
functions.wolfram.com then that doesn't seem like a bad thing. What
has Maple ever done like this?

Jay Belanger

unread,
Jul 22, 2002, 8:45:30 AM7/22/02
to
CliffMi...@hotmail.com (Cliff Mitchel) writes:

As you quoted above, I said "marketing above quality". Those sites
are not relevant to this point.

Ronald Bruck

unread,
Jul 22, 2002, 8:48:01 PM7/22/02
to
[[ This message was both posted and mailed: see
the "To," "Cc," and "Newsgroups" headers for details. ]]

In article <1c3a7302.02072...@posting.google.com>, Cliff
Mitchel <CliffMi...@hotmail.com> wrote:

Well, let me think... Follow the lead in raising prices and making the
user license more onerous? :-(

--Ron Bruck

Cliff Mitchel

unread,
Jul 23, 2002, 5:55:26 AM7/23/02
to
Jay Belanger <bela...@truman.edu> wrote in message news:<m37kjo2...@vh213601.truman.edu>...

My point was really about how the academic community should snipe at
those companies that do not put something back. Or someday the big
companies will realize that sponsorship does them no good as they get
labelled marketeers and conference organizers and the like will be
denied this form of support.

However, lets think about the logic of your assertion. Maple is a
company too, so I think that we can rule out that they don't want
anyone to know about their product. So the fact that everyone seems to
say that Mathematica marketing is better, suggests that Maple are
either not big enough or too incompetant to do the same. Are either of
those a sign that their software should be better quality?

When I was going to make my point about 'putting something back' I
looked at the sponsorship pages of each. Mathematica lists several
pages of conferences, Maple gives a 404 error. Should I think 'great
they haven't bothered to fix that page because they are spending their
time on the software' or is it a sign as to their company quality
control standards?

Should we all submit poorly written papers with scrappy diagrams so
that no-one says 'the science must be poor quality because the
presentation is too good'?

Jay Belanger

unread,
Jul 23, 2002, 9:46:52 AM7/23/02
to
cliffmi...@hotmail.com (Cliff Mitchel) writes:

> Jay Belanger <bela...@truman.edu> wrote in message
> news:<m37kjo2...@vh213601.truman.edu>...
> > CliffMi...@hotmail.com (Cliff Mitchel) writes:
> >
> > > > On the other hand, some think that both Microsoft and Mathematica
> > > > put marketing above quality, and both have obnoxious licenses.
> > >
> > > If their idea of marketing is to keep paying for the development of
> > > free web sites like mathworld.wolfram.com, integrals.wolfram.com and
> > > functions.wolfram.com then that doesn't seem like a bad thing. What
> > > has Maple ever done like this?
> >
> > As you quoted above, I said "marketing above quality". Those sites
> > are not relevant to this point.
>
> My point was really about how the academic community should snipe at
> those companies that do not put something back. Or someday the big
> companies will realize that sponsorship does them no good as they get
> labelled marketeers and conference organizers and the like will be
> denied this form of support.
>
> However, lets think about the logic of your assertion. Maple is a
> company too, so I think that we can rule out that they don't want
> anyone to know about their product. So the fact that everyone seems to
> say that Mathematica marketing is better,

There is nothing wrong with better marketing; I don't recall anybody
saying there was. If a company puts marketing above quality, though,
I think there is a problem.
So if you say "Mathematica does good marketing, why don't you like
that?" you are missing the point.

> suggests that Maple are
> either not big enough or too incompetant to do the same. Are either of
> those a sign that their software should be better quality?
>
> When I was going to make my point about 'putting something back' I
> looked at the sponsorship pages of each. Mathematica lists several
> pages of conferences, Maple gives a 404 error. Should I think 'great
> they haven't bothered to fix that page because they are spending their
> time on the software' or is it a sign as to their company quality
> control standards?
>
> Should we all submit poorly written papers with scrappy diagrams so
> that no-one says 'the science must be poor quality because the
> presentation is too good'?

Who said anything of the sort??????

Bill Rowe

unread,
Jul 23, 2002, 11:24:24 PM7/23/02
to
In article <m3ofcyl...@vh213601.truman.edu>,
Jay Belanger <bela...@truman.edu> wrote:

>There is nothing wrong with better marketing; I don't recall anybody
>saying there was. If a company puts marketing above quality, though,
>I think there is a problem.

I would agree *if* a company puts marketing above quality there is a
problem. But I've not seen any evidence offered that this is the case
for Wolfram.

--
PGPKey ID: 0xEF09EAE5

Lovecraftesque

unread,
Jul 24, 2002, 10:16:12 AM7/24/02
to

Hence the Microsoft parallelism.

Bill Rowe

unread,
Jul 24, 2002, 11:04:55 PM7/24/02
to
In article <pan.2002.07.24.07...@yahoo.com>,
Lovecraftesque <Lovecra...@yahoo.com> wrote:

> Hence the Microsoft parallelism.

Huh??? What parallism are you referring to?

--
PGPKey ID: 0xEF09EAE5

Lovecraftesque

unread,
Jul 25, 2002, 10:33:10 AM7/25/02
to
On Wed, 24 Jul 2002 20:04:55 -0700, Bill Rowe wrote:

>>> I would agree *if* a company puts marketing above quality there is a
>>> problem. But I've not seen any evidence offered that this is the case
>>> for Wolfram.
>
>> Hence the Microsoft parallelism.
>
> Huh??? What parallism are you referring to?

Are you familiar with the BSOD, IIS-only viruses and other MS-only
problems? MS is a marketing house that also makes (shoddy) software.
Wolfram Research is admittedly not quite that extreme, but still.

Bill Rowe

unread,
Jul 26, 2002, 1:15:25 AM7/26/02
to
In article <pan.2002.07.25.07...@yahoo.com>,
Lovecraftesque <Lovecra...@yahoo.com> wrote:

>>> Hence the Microsoft parallelism.

I've heard of a variety of MS OS problems. However, since I use a Mac, I
cannot claim to be familiar with them. OTOH, I do use Mathematica quite
a bit and have not seen similar issues with Mathematica. So, I don't see
a meaningful comparison here.

--
PGPKey ID: 0xEF09EAE5

Jay Belanger

unread,
Jul 26, 2002, 5:02:44 PM7/26/02
to

Bill Rowe <bjr...@earthlink.net> writes:

...


> I've heard of a variety of MS OS problems. However, since I use a Mac, I
> cannot claim to be familiar with them. OTOH, I do use Mathematica quite
> a bit and have not seen similar issues with Mathematica. So, I don't see
> a meaningful comparison here.

Others do.

Jay

Bill Rowe

unread,
Jul 26, 2002, 9:01:22 PM7/26/02
to
In article <m3ofcuu...@vh213601.truman.edu>,
Jay Belanger <bela...@truman.edu> wrote:

>Bill Rowe <bjr...@earthlink.net> writes:

>> I've heard of a variety of MS OS problems. However, since I use a Mac, I
>> cannot claim to be familiar with them. OTOH, I do use Mathematica quite
>> a bit and have not seen similar issues with Mathematica. So, I don't see
>> a meaningful comparison here.

>Others do.

Yet there has been a rather significant lack of specifics in this
thread. The impression I get is some find the Mathematica license
onerous, then suggest Wolfram favors marketing over quality with no
specifics. Sounds a lot like sour grapes to me rather than meaningful
comment.

--
PGPKey ID: 0xEF09EAE5

Jay Belanger

unread,
Jul 27, 2002, 1:52:47 PM7/27/02
to
Bill Rowe <bjr...@earthlink.net> writes:

It was originally pointed out that some compare Mathematica to
Microsoft, and someone asked why. Whether the comparison is justified
or not is another issue; reasons why the comparison is made have been
given. If you don't like the reasons, so be it.


Michael Tague

unread,
Aug 10, 2002, 12:55:57 PM8/10/02
to
Is anyone out there a convert from one to the other? I find it very hard to
compare complex systems since you have to really get into them and try to do
significant projects with them before it becomes easy to compare.

Has anyone reading this been a big Mathematica or Maple user and then
converted to the other? If you have, I would really be interested in your
view of the merits of one over the other - if any. Or for that matter,
users of Matlab, Maxima, MathCAD, etc.

Such observations could be very useful to many.

Thanks.


Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages