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Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: A modest proposal

From: C Y
Subject: Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: A modest proposal
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2007 16:14:18 -0700 (PDT)

--- Bill Page <address@hidden> wrote:

> I very strongly disagree. I do not think the AXIOM project should be
> in the business of building literate programming tools. And I am
> rather surprised that Stephen should think so since he is also
> against the idea of building and maintaining intermediate tools
> like BOOT that are much more intimately related to AXIOM than
> literate programming tools.

Um.  I would argue that literate programming tools are intimiately
related to Axiom - Axiom may end up pushing literate programming in
directions no one has really gone before, depending on where the work
leads.  (I'll avoid the BOOT question - the archives are full of that

> I think one of the great advantages of open source is the ability to
> build freely on the work of other open source projects. Tim had the
> right idea (but the wrong tool) when he decided to use noweb for
> literate programming in Axiom. Re-writing such things in Lisp is just
> a diversion away from the real point of the Axiom project (at least
> what the Axiom project should be).

I know my views about reducing the dependency tree are extreme, so I'll
just state that I find it an interesting direction to pursue - I like
working in Lisp and prefer to have Axiom rely only on Lisp from a long
term viability standpoint.  From my standpoint the foundations must be
firm (well understood and literately documented) before Algebra related
tasks can be tackled, and foundations means anything a working Axiom
must rely on.  Eventually I would like to extend this principle to the
Lisp implementation itself, although there are hurdles there (dpANS3's
copyright status).

What the project "should be" is in the eye of the beholder.  I have my
opinion of course, just as everyone else does.  Tim has taken this
project in one direction, which I find interesting.  If other people
feel another direction is better and want to go that, I have no problem
with that.  They may be right.  Waldek has already shown he can produce
very good results.  I happen to like the current Axiom direction, but
that's just one man's opinion.

> I cannot imagine that spending time extending asdf to understand
> pamphlet format will be anything but a similar diversion. The result
> of all this effort is just to build a bigger ghetto in which Axiom
> will eventually die... :-(

Well, it's not like asdf-literate is costing you any time or effort
;-).  It's an experiment, not a foregone conclusion.  Like any
experiment, it might fail.  Indeed, the Axiom project itself is an
experiment.  Perhaps Waldek's fork will prove the better way to go and
outlive Axiom proper - if it does I wish it success.  (I do anyway, of
course - I have no wish to see any open source project fail and work
done on another version of Axiom will probably be of use to this
version of the project as well - ideas are always a good thing. 
Algebra work will probably be fairly easy to move between the two, if
either ever get to the stage of working on Algebra.)

I believe the potential for long term viability and robustness is worth
pursuing even at the cost of up front time and effort.  I am not in a
hurry personally to create another working CAS - we have many of those.
 To me the effort is worth it if we create a CAS that will scale in the
long term and be maintainable in the long term.  Hopefully it will last
even beyond the 30 year horizon - there are only so many ways some
tasks can be solved, and if we solve them well enough here perhaps they
won't have to be solved again.  The design of TeX is a perfect example,
in my book - even if the code itself is re-implemented someday the
ideas expressed TeX are timeless and will still govern the design. 
They still have not been surpassed after decades.

Anyway.  I think the best solution is for the two camps to pursue their
directions, rather than arguing further about it - I don't see anybody
being convinced at this stage.  Let's write some pamphlets! (or code,
as the case may be.)


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