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[Axiom-developer] RE: [xml-litprog-l] Re: noweb, pamphlets, and TeXmacs

From: Bill Page
Subject: [Axiom-developer] RE: [xml-litprog-l] Re: noweb, pamphlets, and TeXmacs
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2002 13:16:07 -0500

Hello all,

Well, I guess I can retire back to life on the farm
with a clear conscience - seems like it's all been

Seriously, I had no idea that the "state of the art"
had reached this level. I feel like I have just
discovered gold in a most un-expected place - in the
"waste land" called by it's inhabitants "OpenSource".
Waste land, indeed! Not. I guess I have been toiling in
the realm of paid consulting work for too long. Having
just read Dijkstra's "Humble Programmer" article again
after what seems like a whole generation has passed,
I am in a philosophical mood.

So it seems to me that open source (abd GNU etc. etc.)
is what happened *after* the software crisis that
Dijkstra talked about. When the original situation of
expensive hardware plus a little software reversed
dramatically, and the ratio of the cost (and effort)
of software development to the cost of the hardware
went "through the roof", it seems that a large part
of the programming profession went underground. Not
that one should think that the software crisis is over,
far from it, but some amazing and revolutionary ideas
do seem to be re-surfacing...

I have just finished looking at TeXmacs, Leo, Python
and xmLP

and frankly I am amazed. But of course food tastes
wonderful to someone who is starving. These are exactly
the kind of tools that I was hoping would be available
for a new integrated development/authoring system for
the open source version of Axiom and for mathematical
programming in general. Sure a greated degree of
integration would be nice. But these are open source
tools so (in principle) all that is needed is effort.

I am especially encouraged by the use of XML and XSLT.
Standards are what made the Web and for that matter the
Internet itself, possible. Yes, standards *are* made to
be broken, but the fantastic (and largely unexpected)
success of the Internet should have taught us something:
It is possible to overcome the Babel (cf. Neal Stephenson,
"Snow Crash"). Mathematical software in the form of Maple,
Mathematica, Maxima, MuPad, Reduce, Axiom/Aldor (and many
many more) is in such a state of Babel - too many languages
and too many conflicting concepts. Of course variety is
necessary in the intellectual ecosystem, but too much
is almost as bad as too little.

I am very much in favor of attempting to apply accepted
standards (where they exist) in projects such as Axiom.
In that regard, let me ask a question:

LaTex is a defacto standard notation for mathematical
markup but MATH/ML is rapidly evolving as a more
"modern" alternative. Should one attempt to adopt such
a radially different (and some say exceedingly verbose)
approach as MATH/ML in the design of a new user
interface for Axiom? How advanced are the graphical
rendering packages? (More open source?) Could MATH/ML
be integrated with a tool like Leo? The alternative
of a LaTex-like interface is already available in
TeXmacs. But the use of XML as a standard visible
"internal" representation format strikes me as very
very desirable. And of course by design MATH/ML is
much more compatible with XML than is LaTex encoding.

How to choose?

Bill Page.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Johannes Hüsing [mailto:address@hidden 
> Sent: Monday, November 25, 2002 8:58 AM
> To: address@hidden; Bill Page; 'Joris van der Hoeven'
> Cc: address@hidden; address@hidden; 'Norman 
> Ramsey'; 'Barry Trager'; 'Manuel Bronstein'; 'William Sit'
> Subject: Re: [xml-litprog-l] Re: noweb, pamphlets, and TeXmacs
> On Sun 2002-11-24 (21:27), Anthony B. Coates wrote:
> > ** Reply to message from "Bill Page" 
> <address@hidden> on Sun, 
> > 24 Nov 2002 15:00:24 -0500
> > 
> > A couple of things.  TeXmacs looks nice.  I wish I had as 
> nice a front 
> > end for xmLP.  I've often felt that the lack of nice front-ends has 
> > hurt the take-up of LitProg (& Emacs does not count as a nice 
> > front-end, not for the 95% majority). An ideal LitProg 
> editor would be 
> > WYSIWYG, so that what you see when editing is equivalent to 
> what you 
> > would get with a traditional LitProg tool after "weaving" the 
> > documentation.
> I don't know if I still need to draw your attention to LEO 
> ( The DTD of Leo output 
> files is naturally not 1:1 with xmLP, but things like 
> lp:usage attributes can be generated automatically.
> Of course, everyone has their own idea of what LP has to look 
> like, but after using Leo for a couple of weeks my impression 
> is that of a 
> very flexible tool that can be geared towards many 
> structures, including at least an important subset of the 
> xmLP grammar.
> Greetings
> Johannes
> > 

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