I found MapleSim easy and even fun to use. But automating it has some limits. Many of the things an engineer would want to do—for example, fitting data to a model to obtain a best set of parameters or tweaking a model’s parameters to meet design constraints—are likely to force you to delve deeply into Maple and possibly require extra-cost software as well. There is also a key restriction to lumped parameter models (electrical circuits perhaps, but no electromagnetics).

Mathematica tries even harder than Maple to be all things mathematical to all people. Its latest version can locate information about subatomic particles, the human genome, historical weather data, the geometry of polyhedrons, and on and on. The program also includes many new graphical and mathematical functions and supports parallel computing on computers with multicore processors.

Users fortunate enough to work in institutions with maintenance contracts will probably have received these latest versions by now. The rest of us should carefully examine the vendor literature to decide whether the additional features of either program are worth a pricey upgrade.

Other programs for the mathematically inclined continue to evolve as well. Design Science has a new version of its stand-alone equation editor, MathType 6.5. Engineers acquainted only with the stripped-down MathType that’s embedded in Microsoft Word will be pleasantly surprised to find a product that supports various mathematics markup languages and a wide variety of application software.

Do you want to copy an equation from Wikipedia, Mathematica, or Maple and produce a nicely formatted and editable equation in Microsoft Word? Or copy an equation from a Word document and paste it as an executable equation into Maple? Developers have tried for years to build this kind of capability into applications using the language MathML [see ”MathType 5 With MathML for the WWW,” IEEE Spectrum, December 2001] only to be stymied by the way different applications use different flavors of MathML. But now built into it for many different math packages, which should make copy-and-paste operations simple for the user. Neat.

Finally, there’s QuickField, which I first reviewed back in 1993 as a program that numerically solved problems in a variety of physical domains—thermal, mechanical, electrical, mixed—using the finite element method. It featured a nice graphical interface and blazingly fast calculations. Now, numerous versions later, QuickField has acquired many advanced features, including optimization, publication-quality graphics, and so on. There’s even a useful textbook, James Claycomb’s *Applied Electromagnetics Using QuickField & Matlab* (Infinity Science Press, 2008), to go with a free student version that you can download from QuickField’s Web site.

**Maple 12:**http://maplesoft.com

**Mathematica 7:**http://wolfram.com

**MathType 6.5:**http://dessci.com

**QuickField 5.6:**http://quickfield.com

## About the Author

KENNETH R. FOSTER, an IEEE Fellow and professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania is a regular reviewer of books and software for IEEE Spectrum.

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