Maple TA FAQ For Students

  1. General Information about Maple TA
    1. What is Maple TA?
    2. Is Maple TA the same as Maple?
  2. Maple TA Navigation
    1. Why won't Maple TA let me start a new assignment?
    2. Is there anyway to go back to a graded assignment?
    3. Do I have to complete the whole assignment at one time?
    4. What happens if there is some kind of computer crash or power problem?
    5. What should I do if accidentally started the wrong assignment?
    6. I can see the assignment in the list but when I click on it nothing happens.
    7. Is there a place where I can see the correct answers?
    8. When I print an assignment some of the questions are not printed.
  3. Form of Answers
    1. Does my answer have to be exactly the same as the answer in Maple TA in order to be counted as correct?
    2. How do I enter π or e ?
    3. What does Change Entry Style mean?
    4. Text Mode
      1. How are mathematical expressions entered in text mode?
      2. What does Preview do?
      3. When an algebraic expression for an answer is at all complicated, Maple TA keeps telling me my answers are wrong. When I finally get it right, the mistakes were in placing parentheses. What can I do?
      4. The last suggestion did not help me. Maple TA still keeps telling me my answers are wrong. What else can I do?
      5. What is operator precedence?
      6. Why are the textbook and the symbol mode applet using sin-1(x) and tan-1(x) but in text mode we use arcsin(x) and arctan(x)?
      7. Why is Maple TA not accepting cos(Pi/4) as an answer?
    5. Symbol Mode
      1. Must I select the templates for everything?
      2. I entered my answer using symbol mode and it looks exactly like the correct answer. Why is Maple marking it wrong?
  4. Trouble
    1. Every time I try to go to Question n I get a system error.
    2. What do I do if Maple TA marks my answer wrong, but the answer is correct?
    3. What should I do if I think I have found a mistake in Maple TA?
    4. The graph for the question did not show or where there should be an expression or a number there is some nonsense with a dollar sign or many parentheses.
    5. What is that View Parameters button on the Bug Report form?
    6. I sent an email to my instructor about a problem I was having with the current assignment and she replied that she does not have enough information on my problem to help me. What does she need?
    7. I am using the Firefox web browser and when I print my assignment some questions are missing.
  1. General Information about Maple TA
    1. What is Maple TA?
    2. Maple TA 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. Currently at Oklahoma State it is being used to give and grade homework for Math 2144, Calculus I and for Math 2153, Calculus II. It was also tested with a section Math 1613, Trigonometry.

    3. Is Maple TA the same as Maple?
    4. No. Maple TA does use part of Maple and is marketed by the makers of Maple. 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 Maple TA.

      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.

  2. Maple TA Navigation
    1. Why won't Maple TA let me start a new assignment?
    2. You probably have an assignment for a grade that you have not submitted for grading. In Maple TA 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 non-recorded assignments such as practice assignments while you have n recorded assignment in progress.

    3. Is there anyway to go back to a graded assignment?
    4. 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. There is no way to return to the questions so that you may attempt them again unless your instructor has set the assignment to produce the same set of questions every time. In that case you will get a new copy of the assignment with all answer boxes empty.

    5. Do I have to complete the whole assignment at one time?
    6. 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.

    7. What happens if there is some kind of computer crash or power failure while I am working on my assignment?
    8. 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.

    9. What should I do if accidentally started the wrong assignment?
    10. You should contact your instructor and explain what happened. Usually your instructor will disregard the score from this accidental attempt. If the correct assignment is due soon, you cannot reach your instructor, and your instructor has no announced policy, then you should probably send an email to your instructor, grade the incorrect assignment and start the correct one. When you contact your instructor, explain what happened and ask that the grade on the incorrect assignment be disregraded.

    11. I can see the assignment in the list but when I click on it nothing happens.
    12. Look at the availibility dates for the assignment. If the current date is not within those limits, the assignment cannot be started. The names of available assignments usually appear in a different color than those that are unavailable.

    13. Is there a place where I can see the correct answers?
    14. Immediately after you grade an assignment there is an opportunity to review your answers and the correct answers. Click on View details. At any time that you do not have an assignment in progress, you can go to Maple TA page for your class and click on View my results in this class. You will see a list of your assignments. Click on any assignment to see your answers and the correct answers. You can click on a question to see only that question or you can see them all by clicking on Show all questions.
    15. When I print an assignment some of the questions are not printed.
    16. Some versions of the Firefox browser have this problem. A workaround is to click and drag over the whole assignment. Then print but change the print range setting in the print pop-up window to selection.
  3. Form of Answers
    1. Does my answer have to be exactly the same as the answer in Maple TA in order to be counted as correct?
    2. In general, no. The author of the question must decide how flexible the grading will be. For a numerical problem this might vary from requiring an exact answer to allowing a percentage or absolute error. Also the author may allow 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^2-5*x+2/3 and 2/3-5*x+3*x^2 will be graded identically. It also means that 3*x^2-5*x+0.6667 will not be graded identically. The answer 3*(x+1)^2+x-4/3 may also be accepted.

      Because the grading flexibility can vary it is very important to read the question carefully. Usually if some approximation is allowed, the question will include some information about this. If data has to be approximated, e.g., estimating function values from a graph, an approximation of the answer is also allowed. If the problem says give the exact value, then 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: If you enter a number as a decimal as part of a larger expression, the system may convert and grade your answer using approximate arithmetic. In such cases 3^(1/2) is not treated the same as 3^.5 despite the fact that the two numbers are equal. When exact answers are required always use fractions.

      At OSU the default in the questions for calculus is always to use the exact value of all constants.

    3. How do I enter π or e ?
    4. The problems here at OSU require you to enter π as Pi. The base for natural logarithms is entered as e. Sometimes you may see exp(1) for e and exp(x) for ex in answers and in the documentation provided with Maple TA. You should always use e for the constant and e^x for the exponential function with base e in your answers.

    5. What does Change Entry Style mean?
    6. Maple TA 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). See the detailed explanations below.

    7. Text Mode
      1. How are mathematical expressions entered in text mode?
      2. 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). Standard functions can also be entered using their names and parenthesis around the argument, e.g., the value of the cosine of the angle π would entered as cos(pi). Below are some examples.

        Text Mode EntryTwo Dimensional Display
        3*x^23 x2
        (-2*x+1)/(x^5-1)
        -2x + 1
        _______
        x5-1
        x*sin(4*x^3)^2x sin2 4x3

      3. What does Preview do?
      4. 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.

      5. When an algebraic expression for an answer is at all complicated, Maple TA keeps telling me my answers are wrong. When I finally get it right, the mistakes were in placing parentheses. What can I do?
      6. Here is a simple method for catching some parentheses problems that I learned from a computer scientist.

        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.

        1. If the character is a left parenthesis increase the counter by 1 then assign the counter number to the character.
        2. If the character is a right parenthesis, assign the counter number to the character then decrease the counter by 1.
        3. If the character is not a parenthesis, do not assign a number.
        4. Go to the next character to the right and repeat the steps.

        Here is an example:
        (3/(((-13/2)+(8))^2)*(x+(13/2))

        Character  (  3 / (  (  ( -13 / 2 ) + ( 8 )  ) ^ 2 ) * ( x + ( 13 / 2 )  ) 
        Number     1      2  3  4         4   4   4  3     2   2     3        3  2
        
        If 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.

      7. The last suggestion did not help me. Maple TA still keeps telling me my answers are wrong. What else can I do?
      8. If you are pretty sure that your answer on paper is correct, try to work with small pieces of the answer. You can use Notepad, Wordpad or another editor to hold the pieces while you assemble the answer. (If you happen to have access to Maple, you can use its editor to do something similar.) Here is an example

        -2x3+3x2 + x cos2(3x4/3)
        ___________________
        9x5+12x3-1

        This expression can be decomposed into smaller pieces. First we can think of this as the quotient of two expressions A and B where
        A = -2x3+3x2 + x cos2(3x4/3)
        and
        B = 9x5+12x3-1 .
        If we can correctly enter A in text mode as text_A and we can correctly enter B as text_B then we can correctly enter the quotient in text mode as
        (text_A)/(text_B) .
        Put Answer = (text_A)/(text_B) into your editor on a separate line. The expression for B is a polynomial so we can determine text_B pretty quickly as
        text_B = 9*x^5+12*x^3-1 .
        Now even though this is not the answer type this into the answer entry box. Next Preview it to make sure that your text produces the right displayed expression. Once you have got the text mode entry for B correct enter text_B = 9*x^5+12*x^3-1 on a new line in your editor.

        Expression A is more complex so we will break it into a sum of smaller pieces, AA and AB where
        AA = -2x3+3x2
        and
        AB = x cos2(3x4/3) .
        Expression AA in text mode is -2*x^3+3*x^2. Check that this works by enetring it into the answer entry box and clicking Preview. Once you are satisfied enter
        text_A = (text_AA) + (text_AB)
        text_AA = -2*x^3+3*x^2

        into the editor.

        The text mode for expression AB is x*(cos(3*x^(4/3))^2. Check it by using the Preview facility. (If you feel that this is too complex you could break AB into smaller expressions such as (text_ABA)*(text_ABB)^2 where text_ABA = x and text_ABB = cos(3*x^(4/3)). Further decomposition of text_ABB could also be done.) Enter text_AB = x*(cos(3*x^(4/3))^2 on a separate line of your editor. Your editor should contain something like this:

        Answer = (text_A)/(text_B)
        text_B = 9*x^5+12*x^3-1
        text_A = (text_AA) + (text_AB)
        text_AA = -2*x^3+3*x^2
        text_AB = x*(cos(3*x^(4/3))^2

        Now work from the bottom up to construct the text mode answer. (If your editor supports copy and paste you can do these next steps using that facility.)

        Answer = (text_A)/(text_B)
        text_B = 9*x^5+12*x^3-1
        text_A = (text_AA) + (text_AB) = (-2*x^3+3*x^2) + (x*(cos(3*x^(4/3))^2)
        text_AA = -2*x^3+3*x^2
        text_AB = x*(cos(3*x^(4/3))^2

        Finally

        Answer = (text_A)/(text_B) = ((-2*x^3+3*x^2) + (x*(cos(3*x^(4/3))^2))/(9*x^5+12*x^3-1)
        text_B = 9*x^5+12*x^3-1
        text_A = (text_AA) + (text_AB) = (-2*x^3+3*x^2) + (x*(cos(3*x^(4/3))^2)
        text_AA = -2*x^3+3*x^2
        text_AB = x*(cos(3*x^(4/3))^2

        Now copy and paste ((-2*x^3+3*x^2) + (x*(cos(3*x^(4/3))^2))/(9*x^5+12*x^3-1) into the answer entry box and Preview the answer. If all is well, click How Did I Do? and check the correctness of the answer.

        Notice that in the procedure exhibited above we have been careful to include parentheses around each smaller expression and when we reassembled the answer those parentheses were kept. The emphasis here was not on getting the shortest answer but a correct answer. You may find that you need to decompose expressions into more or fewer expressions than what was done above. Do what is comfortable and reliable for you. The Preview facility does not catch missing multiplication symbols. If the answer requires Maple syntax and you frequently forget these *, you may find it helpful to use Maple itself to check the syntax of your answers.

      9. What is operator precedence?
      10. 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 -2x3+3x2 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. A complete dscussion of operator precedence is too lengthy for this FAQ, but see the next question for another one of the issues.

      11. Why are the textbook and the symbol mode applet using sin-1(x) and tan-1(x) but in text mode we use arcsin(x) and arctan(x)?
      12. Mathematical typography evolved from notations used by various authors over the centuries and not by some grand consistent scheme. The result is that there are several notations for some things and some notations which mean different things in different situations. If the situation is not clear the reader (or a computer program) may have to guess what is meant. With some commonly used functions several typographical conventions have evolved that make the situation unclear.

        Consider the Pythagorean identity as it is commonly written.
        cos2x + sin2x = 1
        To actually compute the left hand side of this identity the operations would be compute the value of cosine of x and compute the value of sine of x, square each of those and add the resulting values together, i.e., (cos(x))^2 + (sin(x))^2. The raised 2's mean to square the results of computing the value of the trigonometric function. Similarly sin5 x would mean to compute the fifth power of sin(x).

        The above examples seems to indicate that sin-1x should mean that we should compute sin(x) and then raise the result to the -1 power, i.e., (sin(x))-1 = 1/sin(x). However if f is a one-to-one function a commonly used notation for the inverse function for f (the inverse for composition) is f-1. This means that there is another possible interpretation of sin-1x as the inverse function of sine applied to x.

        This notational conflict is usually resolved by using only positive exponents when the interpretation is to be power and the only negative superscript permitted is -1. The interpretation in the case of -1 is as the inverse function. This works fairly well but is the cause of some confusion and errors. In Maple TA text mode the issue is avoided entirely because a power n of sin(x) must be written as (sin(x))^n and the inverse function is named arcsin. In two dimensional display these unambiguous expressions are replaced by the standard typographical conventions. As a result in displays such as in symbol mode you may see sin-1x.

      13. Why is Maple TA not accepting cos(Pi/4) as an answer?
      14. The grading facility does not always replace these trigonometric functions of special values with their algebraic equivalents. You should not be including ln(e) or a trigonometric function of one of the special angles (multiples of π/6 or π/4) in the answers. These should be replaced by the exact values. So try sqrt(2)/2 in place of cos(Pi/4).

    8. Symbol Mode
      1. Must I select the templates for everything?
      2. No. The java applet for symbol mode will accept some text mode entries. For example you can enter x^2 and the exponent template will automatically open up.

      3. I entered my answer using symbol mode and it looks exactly like the correct answer. Why is Maple marking it wrong?
      4. This could be a bug in the grading of the problem, but there is another possibility. The symbol mode applet makes assumptions about what is being entered and is not only building the display you see but also something like a text mode entry. What actually is used for grading is that text mode entry. Sometimes because of the assumptions the applet made or because of confusion introduced during editing, the text mode entry is not what you intended.

        It is possible to see the text mode entry by changing the entry style to text mode and revisiting the question. When you return to the question in text mode whatever you entered for the answer in symbol mode will be replaced by the corresponding text mode expression as the applet constructed it. You should carefully inspect the locations of any parentheses. Often what has happened is that the right parenthesis is improperly located. For example you may have wanted -x^2+2*x-3 = -(x^2)+2*x-3 but what you got was -(x^2+2*x-3).

  4. Trouble
    1. Every time I try to go to Question n I get a system error.
    2. Probably you have used symbol mode to enter an answer to Question n, but there is an error in the syntax of what you wrote. Notice that you do not need to quit when you get a system error. Use the back triangle on the system error to return to the assignment. Go to another question that can use symbol mode. (This can be in a practice assignment or the same assignment.) Switch to symbol mode. Now try to go to Question n.

      A step-by-step explanation using another assignment.

    3. What do I do if Maple TA marks my answer wrong, but the answer is correct?
    4. The situation is not any different than if a human grader made a mistake grading something or there was an error in the answer key that was being used to grade the paper. Gather the evidence of the error, e.g., a print out of your graded assignment (or the page with the error), and bring the problem to the attention of your instructor. Your instructor can change the grade given by Maple TA.

      In certain situations you may need to convince your instructor that you entered the correct answer correctly. For example if you used symbol mode to enter the answer there may be some ambiguity about the appearance of the answer. Your instructor will probably respond more positively if you can show him your original print out of the assignment with the steps of the solution of the problem carefully written out.

    5. What should I do if I think I have found a mistake in Maple TA?
    6. Most problems include a link to a Bug Report facilty. You should click on the link and carefully fill out the form. Be sure to describe the mistake or bug precisely.

      Note: The Bug Report facility is not online help with the mathematics. Generally there will be no follow-up to you about your report. Your report will be sent to someone who is familiar with the way questions are created and to your instructor. An attempt will be made to recreate the behavior reported by you and if it is determined that there is a bug, a fix will be implemented.

    7. The graph for the question did not show or where there should be an expression or a number there is some nonsense with a dollar sign or many parentheses.
    8. This is indicates that the server had a problem. If only the graph is missing, someone who is knowledgeable about Maple and web pages may be able to produce the graph for you from the commands embedded in the source for the web page. If the server did not produce the expressions or numbers needed for the question, it is likely that your question cannot be salvaged. Tell your instructor what happened.

      Examples:




      Question 1: (1 point)
      There is a problem generating randomized coefficients for the question: Comparison of Graphs
      Error initializing $A: There is a syntax error in the algorithmic expression "maple("randomize():RandomTools[Generate](choose({turquoise,sienna,green,magenta,yellow}));")". The following error message was generated: null




      Question 2: (1 point)
      What is the exact value of the largest solution of (((q)*(u))*(a))*(t)=0, i.e., (((s)*(h))*(o))*(w)?

    9. What is that View Parameters button on the Bug Report form?
    10. See the answer to the next question.

    11. I sent an email to my instructor about a problem I was having with the current assignment and she replied that she does not have enough information on my problem to help me. What does she need?
    12. Most questions on your assignments are generated from a family of similar questions by selecting particular values for things like coefficients. This is done by randomly selecting those values at the time you start the assignment. If you tell your instructor that you are having trouble with Question 7 on the assignment for Section 3.4. Your particular version of that question may be one of a thousand possibilities. Maple TA does not permit the instructor to view a student's assignment until it has been graded.

      To get help while an assignment is in progress you must provide your instructor with the specifics of the question. Here are a few ways that you can do this:

    13. I am using the Firefox web browser and when I print my assignment some questions are missing.
    14. Try the following workaround. When you are ready to print, use your mouse to select (highlight) the entire document. Now press print but change the setting to "Print Selection" in the popup.