Tom 4

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19 years, 258 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

Thanks James for this nice summary. As a participant in this first workshop, I must say that I left more pumped than I was going in, which is hard to do as I'm generally an uber-optimist. The number of participating schools and the depth of insight and passion shown by the participants were envigorating if not inspiring. I haven't felt like this since th early days of Maple itself when visionaries like Robert Lopez emerged to show the world how important it was that we work creatively and proactively with emerging technology. I felt that this meeting was a major in achieving the same type of long-lasting effect on engineering education. Thanks to all those who participated. I'm currently bouncing around Asia on a business trip but once I return, I hope to offer more detailed comments on this important meeting.

Cheers from Tokyo!


It's amazing ... I've never had the kind of reaction to a blog post than I've had with this particular little ditty ... random people dropping by my desk to share their bottled-up Rushophilic secrets; people who rarely go to concerts scrambling to get seats online for the show the week after the one I attended; and now you registering on to Primes to offer an insightful comment on my humble musings ... Perhaps the correlation is still coincidental but there does seem to be something special about this scene ... perhaps it's a collective midlife crisis ...

BTW in maple, identify(.2112) produces sech(sqrt(5)) ... ooooo .... scary stuff ...

Thanks all for your input on this matter. I’m glad to see that there is good dialog on these important issues. I do want to add a comment though. We do have to be a bit cautious of “black and white” comparisons between companies and between products. As mentioned in this thread, what an academic customer sees is different than a commercial customer in terms of pricing.  On issues of bundles or whether technology is included or is charged for, this is something that we analyze and debate on a regular basis and there are several great examples where we’ve moved from separate products to inclusion in the core. MTM and NAG Connector come to mind. With every launch we look at a bunch of different factors and make appropriate decisions. With a very new product line anchored by MapleSim, we’re sorting out all of the new factors that this new product and its respective new market segment is introducing, and unfortunately, it’s not as straight forward as “how do we compare to MATLAB/Simulink”. The differences in technology, application, and target market are very significant.

Having said that, overall, I think Maplesoft has a pretty good record staying competitive and responsive. If we make a mistake, we try our best to make corrections in  a timely way. This thread is very useful for us as it is highlighting issues of interest to this group and we’ll be factoring that in. Thanks much for your thoughts and advice.

Tom Lee

David, thanks so much for this thoughtful response. When I was much younger when analog ruled, I never had the money to buy anything more than a modest camera and a modest stereo. But every dollar I would spend went through a thrilling research process (back then, of course, it was magazines in the library, or that group of nerdy teenage wannabe audio/photophiles in the neighborhood. The lasting legacy of analog for me is not so much for some technical reason but for the challlenges they presented and the solutions that I had to concoct. Today, I think a better than average photographer and better than average music afficienado and I have some sense of what an air filter in a car does, because of the pain in the a** aspects of these venerable technologies. My eleven year old daughter is developing quite an eye for photo composition and to build her sense of photography, I thought of outfitting her with a basic film setup ... perhaps my Moskva 5, 6 x 9 cm folding camera from the 50's might do the trick ;-)

Nothing better than a good period of practice at 16 years old, in an industrial company as manual worker, that 2 to 3 weeks during summer holidays...

I did it thanks to my dad, wrapping spare parts for BULL (hardware), and thanks to that I understood two things:

- To respect all my life long the manual workers and all these job considered as low social-class

- I have something called brains between both ears, so I have to do studie if I do not want to wrap all my life spare parts...


- absolutely true. Having grown up in the hood with jobs in gas stations, warehouses, and convenience stores as a kid, it was that much easier for me to see when the time came the empowering qualities of math and science.

Really slick 3-D graphics got me hooked, particularly as a classroom teacher.  I am stinking ancient, and remember vividly the days of painstaingly finding and sketching (by hand...) traces of 3-variable equations, and knowing that the resultant visualization was still woefully inadequate.   The inuitive, and quite deep, understanding we can now communicate to students about higher dimensional objects (remembering that we in fact LIVE in 3-D) is a huge step forward.

I have to admit that 3D graphics has huge appeal ... having said that, I too am ancient and when I was an undergrad as an engineer, our worldview was either 2D or what we call 2.5D -- flat engineering drawings of 3D objects. So when I first encountered 3D Maple graphics, it was unclear to me what it would be good for ... remember I had already gone through the math sequence which at the time tried its best to hide the existence of the third dimension ... so it took a while for my heart to warm up.

How about Maple TA? the tool for online testing and assessment.

As far as I know it is the only tool out there which really gives teachers (and their students) a Mathematical (or technical) system for doing online testing. I think that teaching has changed and will change further because of this still new tool!


TA is a wonderful tool and my top 10 list is not indendened to imply that it's not ... I guess the engineer in me heavily influenced my first list :-)

Hi Tom,

Don't you thing that the ability to show step-by-step the calculation of limits, integrals etc should be in your top-10 list? Espacially for highschool teachers and students?


There are countless amazing things and it's virtually impossible to narrow down to a list of 10 that everyone can agree on. I chose the 10 things about Maple that I "fell in love with" -- so the list reflects my circumstances and moods at the time that I was introduced to the feature. If a particular tool was critical for an important project that I was doing at some point in time, it likely would stay in my memory. So it's not an accurate reflection of the 10 most important things for the rest of the world.

Although there will be a formal nomination process for the big prize (trip to the exciting city of Waterloo Canada), we also welcome ad hoc nominations and general notes of appreciation throughout the year. Simply post your comments. Anyone who would like to endorse the nomination should do so as well. We'll take such comments into account as we select the recipient. T4.
I think your point is well taken and we could use some diversity in our polls. I think though there is a bit of an art to coming up with good polls that actually sheds light on a topic and does so in a way that we can interpret the results correctly and learn from it. T4.
What a nice comment. Unfortunately, I no longer have the luxury of "discovering" Maple as you are. I went through that a couple of decades ago when I was an undergrad. But I do remember how taken I was by its seeming "intelligence" and a language just seemed like pure magic for someone who had just clawed his way out of learning about C pointers. Looking at your profile, you're not too much older than I am and I hope I have the pleasure of discovering something else when I get there in the not too distant future ... unfortunately Maple is plain old "work" for me :-) Thanks for your post! Tom 4.
Most of the folks here are I would say, advanced university types who live and breathe math. The thing that brings these particular people together is their interest in a piece of software called Maple. Based on your comments, I'm not sure that's what you're looking for at the moment. However, there would likely be lots of people to offer general advice and motivation for you. Although the chats may have nothing to do with math software, I firmly believe that this web site is about math people doing things that only math people can ... like helping others understand their math better. So feel free to ask questions and if we can be of help great! Otherwise maybe we can help point you to other sites that may be more helpful. Welcome. T4.
Thanks albatros for forcing me to read our license agreement again :-) Yes you are right, the license (as stated in section 6a of the agreement) does allow for the transfer of the license to another platform as long as you uninstall the previous installation. The transfer and issuing of a new activation code is performed by our Tech Support group. This actually applies to download customers as well. In this case though, you would be provided with a new download altogether and not simply a new license code or file. So the only real difference between download and CD for platform switch is a tiny bit of convenience. A bigger question is why you are waiting to download your copy of Maple 11. As soon as you purchase, you should get an immediate authorization to download. If you're waiting too long after purchasing please contact Thanks. T4.
Quick access and modest cost savings is the primary difference. At this point, the physical version will not be available for a few weeks and depending on backlog, you may have a bit of a wait. So many choose "instant gratification". Also the manuals are available in electronic form within Maple so there's little advantage unless having real books is important to you. T4.
Thanks for the suggestion. The intent of Primes isn't to replace the Newsgroups. I think there's always a place for an unmoderated public forum. The fact that Primes is supported by the company allows us to do a lot more than public groups. I cite the various content upload tools, direct connection to developers, content feeds, etc. At this point our preference is to keep the two worlds separate so that we can continue to explore new ways of developing our user community. T4.
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