Calculus Using Maple
A PREP Workshop
In order to prepare for the workshop we ask participants to install and
test free software on their computers in advance. This will
typically mean asking a colleague to install the software on a second
machine in the department and testing the connectivity locally.
We will do connectivity checks the week before the workshop and
can provide technical assistance, but if there are problems with
settings or security on a local network, the fix may involve
help from high IT officials. It is easiest to fix those
kinds of problems if they are known with some lead time. An
additional advantage of prior installation is that
several pieces of the software we use can be used in other settings.
Participants are more likely to explore those other uses if they try
out with a local colleague.
The software needed for the workshop consists of 4 pieces:
All of the software is available for the three major platforms (Linux,
Macintosh, and Windows). The first three components are for the
online facet of the workshop. Maple is commercial software,
and its use is
the content of the workshop. These components should be easy to
download from the web and install.
- Chat software used for instant messaging;
- Screen sharing software (VNC) allowing the particpants to
see/share the instructors screen in real time;
- Quicktime software to allow the particpants to see (and more
importantly to hear) the instructors during the sessions;
- Maple, a commercially available computer algebra package.
Free Software - Components 1, 2, and 3
Participants will need the following freely available software.
We recommend updating to the latest versions
even if earlier versions have worked well on the computer before.
AOL Instant Messenger (AIM)
Of the four components, the chat
software, AIM, is the easiest to obtain and install. The instant
messenger software is used to communicate with participants and
for participants to communicate
with the workshop leaders. It will also be used to transfer files
during workshop sessions.
Links for AIM
The software can be tested by having a colleague download the
software on a second machine, obtain a second screen name, and have an
online chat. Instant messaging has become so common
among students that any
student can probably give technical support for installation.
(The workshop leaders on the other hand needed to install the
software for the workshop. It may get turned off on our machines
when the workshop is over.) AIM also allows two users to easily
transfer files over the chat. Macintosh users can use
iChat, once they have an AOL screen name.
- Download AIM form
- To register a
screen name, go to the download site and click on "Starting Out" in the
menu on the left side of the screen; click on "Registration" in the
Screen sharing - VNC
VNC is used to share our computer screen with remote users.
are able to see the Maple input and output as it occurs on the workshop
leaders' computer. Instructions for connecting to the VNC server are
to participants via email and/or AIM.
Screen sharing is one of the components that has potential for use
by mathematicians outside the workshop, allowing colleagues in separate
locations to share a computer screen. Thus it seems worthwhile to
ask participants to install both the client (software to allow a user
to see someone else's screen, and the server (software that allows
someone else to see the user's screen). Workshop participants
will only need the client software for the workshop.
Links for VNC clients:
Links for VNC servers:
There's a nice explanation of VNC with detailed installation
at New York University. (These
instructions are now mirrored
locally.) For Macintosh users the instructions are
to launch the OSXvnc and click the start button. Record the IP
address of the server and transmit it to the person with the client.
The client user should launch "Chicken of the VNC", and put that
address in for the host.
To do the local test we ask participants to download both the client
and server to their machine and to a colleague's machine and to try
sharing screens between themselves. (Note: we don't recommend both
users in a test running both the server and client at the same time;
this produces an infinite loop of receding windows on both computers.)
Local testing should reduce the number of problems that remain to be
solved during the connectivity testing the
week before the workshop.
Streaming Video and Audio
Streaming Video and Audio are
provided via Quicktime Streaming of an
video stream (Note: we are considering upgrading to an H.264 stream,
which Quicktime will handle). This allows participants to hear and see
Links for streaming video/audio
In testing this software, the issue will be whether or not your
computer or your IT people have a firewall installed that blocks the
ports used by the software. In our experience a number of institutions
have firewalls that block live streams, but not movie files.
Thus this can be tested in two pieces.
Quicktime Player at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/ for
Windows or Macintosh
- Unix/Linux users can use VLC
(This powerful media player is available for a wide range of platforms,
including Windows and Macintosh.)
- Unix/Linux users can use MPlayer, a part of many standard
MPlayer may need to be recompiled with additional components installed
first to permit the viewing of rtsp files.
- The first test of the software is to see if it can be used to
download and view an archived video. With the Quicktime Player
application, open the file menu, select "Open URL..." and paste in "rtsp://184.108.40.206/qtmedia/Media/LA050627am3.mov"
(without the quotes). This should let you see an archived
version of a session of a recent workshop.
second test is to test with a live
stream. The problem is that such streams tend to come and go.
As the workshop
gets closer we will send an e-mail with a list of live streams. You can
probably find a live stream by doing a google search
for "quicktime live streaming webcam sdp". (Search without the
quotes. Construction sites seem to be the most commonly
Maple is a commercially available software package for a wide range of
mathematical, symbolic and scientific computation.
Links for Maple:
Participants are expected to have Maple available to work with during
the workshop. We will be using Maple 10, the newly-released version.
The methodology used
can easily be adapted to other versions of Maple and participants will
able to use Maple, version 6 and higher. Maple has agreed to
provide participants with a free time limited copy of Maple 10 that can
be used during the workshop. Faculty members who use Maple in a
course can obtain a free copy vie the Maple Adoption
Hardware and Network Requirements
Participants will need:
During testing with each participant we occasionally find that a
participant needs to ask that firewall settings be adjusted at their
institution to allow the appropriate internet feeds to reach them.
- dedicated access to a computer running Windows, Mac OS X, or some
variety of Unix or Linux - System requirements for Maple 10 can be
found at the
Maplesoft System Requirements page; and
- a fast connection to the internet to receive an acceptable video
feed; T-1, cable and DSL connections are fine, but dial-up modem
connections are too slow.
During previous workshops, participants found it useful to work with
two computers at a time, with one to view the workshop and a second to
work Maple problems on a second screen. Several participants used
computers in labs rather than their office computers for the workshop.
For further information, please contact Russell Blyth (firstname.lastname@example.org)
or Mike May (email@example.com)
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This PREP workshop is made possible by the NSF grant DUE:
Workshop generously co-sponsored by