Category: Contributed Papers

Laurent Bernardin

Mathematical Computations on the Web: The Maple approach

Maple is a well known environment for interactive numeric and symbolic computations as well as for producing rich technical documents. This paper explores options in order to make these capabilities accessible to a wider audience, on the web.

MapleNet is a server version of the Maple engine. Using this technology, Maple computations can be deployed in three different ways.

  • The author of a web page can write a custom Java Applet, which can connect to the MapleNet server and request computations or plots to be done on the server. The results of these computations can then be displayed by the Applet within a web browser.
  • Maplets are custom, graphical user interface objects that are written using the Maple programming language. Such Maplets can be used from within the Maple worksheet interface. Such Maplets can also be deployed to the web using a MapleNet server.
  • The third option to deploying Maple computations through MapleNet is via JSP (Java Server Pages). Java code as well as Maple instructions can be embedded into the HTML source code for a web page and the corresponding Maple computations and visualizations are rendered on the fly when a web page is requested by a browser.

We will looks at a number of usage scenarios for MapleNet, from delivering educational content through deploying enterprise applications to an intranet.

MapleTA delivers Maple computations in a different way and for a different purpose. MapleTA is an environment for online testing and assessment. Practice sessions, assignments, quizzes and exams can be set up by an instructor to be taken by her or his students through a browser interface. MapleTA assists the instructor by automatically grading assignments and by keeping track of historical grades and performing statistics. A Maple engine on the MapleTA server is used for two main tasks:

  • Questions can be randomized in order to ensure that each student gets a different test or that the same student can repeat a practice session as many times as he or she wants, without getting the same questions again. For questions of mathematical nature, Maple ensures that certain conditions on the generated questions are met, thus for example avoiding trivial questions.
  • The Maple engine can also used to check the correctness of the student's answers. The instructor can use arbitrary Maple statements to verify answers against the expected input.

Throughout these applications, Maple, MapleNet and MapleTA, MathML is used to encode and display mathematical expressions, ensuring seamless communication among these products and interoperability with third party applications like WebEQ. We will show how these technologies work together to enable the authoring of a mathematical document, its conversion to an HTML web page which can then be turned into a live online document using MapleNet.

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