Since the start of modern scientific computing, relationships have been

important. Some, like Wolfram Research prefer detached friendships, offering

links to other software like Labview, Excel, Matlab etc without forming any

deeper attachment. But most seem to like to take it much further.

For many years Maple has been the most promiscuous. In bed with Matlab under

the pseudonym of "Matlab Symbolic toolbox", in bed with MathCAD, installed as

a library with every copy, in bed with Scientific Word to make the

computational version, Scientific Workplace while being happily married at

home with NAG installed with Maple to provide numerics.

Scientific Workplace was the first to break this happy arrangement. After

flirting briefly with Mathematica, it found a new, less demanding lover MuPad,

and for some time they were very happy. Now that MuPad is looking rather sick,

they may be wondering if they did the right thing as they prepare for life as

a widow.

Maple could be forgiven for feeling smug, but according to comments from

Cliff Yapp on the Axiom discussion group, it has its own impending

relationship woes. Maple's first love, MathCAD, is considering someone else

too. And even more embarrassing for Maple, MathCAD is looking like moving in

with the ancient and unattractive Maxima who is feeling younger than it looks

after the excitement of becoming open source.

As with all divorces, it's the children who suffer!