Monday, March 12, 2007

Maple NAG connector - a link to the past

I was going to pass on commenting on the new Maple NAG connector because adding the ability to call NAG C subroutine libraries directly from Maple seemed a quaintly old-fashioned idea.

I didn't realize how old fashioned until I was reminded of Intercall. I Googled InterCall and it looks like exactly the same product except connecting Mathematica to the NAG libraries. The entertaining fact being that Intercall was something that was created at least 10 years ago!

Compare elements of the press release for the "new" Maple NAG connector with an eight year old Intercall page in the NAG website:

Maple:"Easy access to the powerful NAG C Library numeric routines from inside the Maple environment"
Mathematica:"easy access to all the routines in the NAG subroutine library."

Maple: "Appropriate default values for many parameters are provided automatically"
Mathematica: " straightforward declaration of default settings for arguments in external routines."
Maple: "NAG C Library documentation is integrated into the searchable, indexed, Maple Help System, and includes hundreds of examples coded in Maple"
Mathematica: " a detailed TeX manual describing how to use InterCall with Notebook examples"

As far as I can tell, Intercall is no longer available. I can't particularly see any reason why it should appeal to Maple users more than Mathematica except that Maple's home grown numerics are weaker than Mathematica's and Maple already has some NAG libraries included (for the same reason).

But I don't really see the appeal. O think that one is either a C/FORTRAN libraries and subroutines kind of person, or an application using person. Bridging the gap technically, doesn't bridge the gap psychologically.

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