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[Axiom-developer] ACM/ISSAC Active Journal

From: root
Subject: [Axiom-developer] ACM/ISSAC Active Journal
Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2005 22:28:03 -0400

Emil, et. al.

For the past two years I've been building the proceedings CD that gets
distributed at ISSAC. This has been interesting but not really breaking
any new ground. And the process starts at the last minute so there is
very little time to do anything but get the CD assembled.

This year I'd like to consider something more interesting and to do that
I need to start much earlier (now).

Consider the following idea:

  You are giving a talk about a new algorithm. During the talk you give
  out the URL which contains a copy of your paper. The paper is a literate
  program which contains latex plus the full source code.

  A person in the audience can put a special Live CD in their laptop (which
  boots linux but does not change their hard drive). They open a browser.
  They surf to the given URL. They "drag and drop" your paper onto their
  machine, it compiles, installs, and is set up to run.

  Now the person in the audience can actually execute your algorithm while
  you are giving your talk.

  This is the "Doyen" idea. It can be applied in all of the science
  conferences but ISSAC is a perfect test case.

For background some of you need to know that Carlo Traverso has been trying
to develop an "Active Journal" which would accept "Literate Programs" for

Literate programs (my definition) are papers that contain the complete,
runnable source code for the published algorithm as well as things like
proof of termination, order of the algorithm, etc. If these are published
in an Active Journal then people will be able to use the algorithms directly.
This has been a problem in the past (e.g. a new, faster Groebner basis
algorithm that does not have associated code). Given that we are doing
computational mathematics I claim that running code is as important as
a proof. Axiom has been rewritten to be all literate programs (that is,
all of the files are now documents and there is no lisp, boot, spac, C, or
Makefile files anymore).

Another effort is the Doyen Computational Science Platform CD project 
which has created a Live CD (that is, one that will boot linux on a
computer from the CD without changing your hard drive). The goal of
the Doyen project is to set up a Live CD that contains several computer
algebra systems, a web server, a browser, and a special Wiki, a website
user's can change. Thanks to Bill Page Axiom already has such a wiki

You should be able to "drag and drop" a literate program onto a Doyen
CD and have it automatically compile, install, latex, and set up to run
the program in the paper. Doyen is not quite there yet but that is the

If we can create a working demonstration of a Doyen CD for the next
ISSAC then we can encourage people to write algorithms that will work
on the CD software and publish the resulting literate programs in 
Carlo's Active Journal.

All of this technology exists in prototype form. ISSAC would be the 
perfect forum to demonstrate a working prototype and it would certainly
make the ISSAC CDs much more than just an electronic copy of a paper
journal. If this works then the ACM can spread the technology to the
other computational science areas.


Tim Daly

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