MapleTA is a program which can be used to generate questions and grade responses which are numerical, formulas, words, etc. Multiple choice and matching style questions are also possible. The software can be used for many purposes. During Spring 2007 we will use it in the course MAT2A for 'Hold 3, 4, 6' here at Aalborg University.
No. MapleTA does use part of Maple and is marketed by the makers of Maple, Maplesoft. Some questions use Maple for producing portions of the questions and graphs. Maple is also used to grade some questions. Some software produced by other companies is also part of MapleTA.
Maple is a computer algebra system, i.e., a program that can solve equations, compute derivatives, etc., by using methods which are similar to those a person might use. It can also do strictly numerical computation.
You probably have an assignment for a grade that you have not submitted for grading. In MapleTA you are only permitted to have one assignment in progress at a time. This means one assignment for which you had to give your login and password. You can do other nonrecorded assignments such as practice assignments while you have a recorded assignment in progress.
You can look at the results of an assignment you have submitted for grading by clicking on the link View my results in this class on the right side of your class home page. Usually you are allowed to rework old assignments.
No. At any time you can click the Quit and Save button at the top of the page. Save your session and logout. The next time you want to work on the assignment choose the same assignment from the list. When you give your login and password you wil be allowed to return to the assignment as you left it. Any answers that you had entered will still be present.
Any work that you have done since the last time you saved will be lost. You should periodically, e.g., every ten minutes, click on Quit and Save and save your work to make sure that you do not lose very much work if there is a problem. It is a good idea to save just before you do the following things: change entry style, report a bug, use another browser window on another site or use another piece of software that heavily uses java (Maple is one.). Any of these could cause the browser to crash.
Note that not all assignments include the correct answers. This is in particular the case with assignments on the theory.
In general, no. For a numerical problem you are allowed to use
arithmetic, i.e., 2^6/3^5
is correct as well as 64/243
. For
answers which are formulas or mathematical expressions,
the answers usually need to be mathematically equivalent. This
means that 3*x^25*x+2/3
and 2/35*x+3*x^2
will be graded identically. It also
means that 3*x^25*x+0.6667
will not be graded identically.
Because of this it is very important
to read the question carefully. Usually you are required to give exact
answers in this course.
This means that
decimal or other approximations
are not allowed. Note 0.5 is exactly 1/2 so either is acceptable most of the time,
i.e., the form is not important.
However 1/3 and .666667 are not
exactly the same so that for a question requiring an exact answer
of 1/3
, .666667
would be marked incorrect.
Important: Always use fractions.
MapleTA provides two basic methods for entering mathematical expressions, text mode and symbol mode. Text mode is similar to the method used by many calculators. Symbol mode uses point and click selections of templates for two dimensional display of exponents, fractions, etc., and display of expressions as you type, i.e., WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). In this course you are required to use text mode.
In text mode mathematical expressions are entered on a single line using explicit symbols for the operations and parentheses and operator precedence to control the order in which the operations are performed. Calculators, spreadsheets, and many programming languages use this or a very similar syntax. Basic operations use familiar symbols, + (addition),  (subtraction). * (multiplication), / (division) and ^ (exponentiation). Below are some examples.
Text Mode Entry  Two Dimensional Display  

3*x^2  3 x^{2}  
(2*x+1)/(x^51) 

When the entry mode is text the Preview facility allows you to see your answer in traditional two dimensional notation. This does not work for all types of answers but for algebraic expressions like those in the table above it will work. If there is a problem with what you have typed the Preview facility may provide an error message to help you pinpoint the problem.
Here is a simple method for catching some parentheses problems.
The idea is to assign a number to each parenthesis. Matching parentheses will get the same number. Here are the rules of the algorithm. The algorithm moves from left to right examining each character. It makes use of an auxiliary number which I will call the counter.
Start at the left most character in the expression. Set the counter at 0.
Here is an example:
(4/(((17/2)+(9))^2)*(x+(15/2))
Character ( 4 / ( ( ( 17 / 2 ) + ( 9 ) ) ^ 2 ) * ( x + ( 15 / 2 ) ) Number 1 2 3 4 4 4 4 3 2 2 3 3 2If the parentheses match, the first and last numbers should be the same and each number which is assigned should occur an even number of times. Above there are one 1, four 2's, four 3's and four 4's. So there is one more left parenthesis than right.
Because matching parentheses have the same assigned number, you can also use this to help find errors in order of operations.
Operator precedence is used to decide the order in which operations are performed whenever there are no parentheses to indicate the order. In elementary algebra operator precedence is used to write polynomials without extra parentheses. For example 2x^{3}+3x^{2} would need to be written as ((2)*(x^3))+(3*(x^2)) to make the order of operations clear without operator precedence. We can omit the parentheses because we know that powers are to be computed before multiplications or additions and that multiplications are to be computed before additions. The minus in front of the 2 (a unary minus) is a further complication. Fortunately the several obvious possibilities ( (2)*(x^3) = (2*(x^3)) = (1)*(2*(x^3))) all yield the same result.