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Re: [Axiom-developer] MuPad under trouble

From: C Y
Subject: Re: [Axiom-developer] MuPad under trouble
Date: Tue, 8 Nov 2005 08:31:56 -0800 (PST)

--- root <address@hidden> wrote:

> God I hate to see such research die.

> I hope they have a "deadman provision" to open source the work
> if MuPAD/SciFace dies. Perhaps we could merge the efforts and
> benefit in the long run. If they do open the code someone should
> let me know.

I hope so too - trying to go head to head commercially with Mathematica
and Maple is going to be a difficult thing to do without the momentum
of the academic users behind it.

The relevant thread in sci.math.symbolic seems to be here:

> I know that in the U.S. there is no NSF funding available for
> Computer Algebra research. The argument seems to be that as
> long as there are commercial ventures doing CA there is no need
> for public funding. (Europe has been much more enlightened in 
> this respect.)

I hope this isn't about to change?

> It's a short-sighted view. Companies fail. And when they fail
> they take their code with them. Witness IBM, during its failing
> years, which sold Axiom. Witness Symbolics, which locked up Macsyma.


> Even with individuals we lose work. Manual's work is still tied
> up somewhere in INRIA.

Can it be freed up?  I would think that's a resource that should be
preserved if at all possible.

> Suppose it was Wolfram or Maplesoft that folded? What would become
> of all of that research work? Will computational mathematics have
> a huge black hole if these companies die?

I think with those two the worst that will happen is they will
stagnate.  There are too many universities and companies that have
functionality that depends on them - there will probably be enough
licensing revenue to sustain them.  The cost of moving to something
else will be much higher than paying whatever is needed to keep them
running on the current setup and occasionally buying new licenses.

Whether there will be money for INNOVATIVE work on those systems,
however, remains to be seen.  I know at least some departments in my
old university stick with older versions of Mathematica because they
can't afford the upgrades, for example.  It's a lot harder to put forth
a business case for innovative work when the market gets tight - too
much risk of costs without returns.

> I fear for the future of computational mathematics. 
> The past century was the birth of the subject. 
> This century will make for a very difficult childhood.

I fear this might be true.

> Is this how future science will live and die?

In an environment where all funding is based on corporate thinking,
only ideas that can generate short term profits will be developed.  It
deeply worries me how prevelant such thinking is becoming, particularly
in universities and governments, but that's another post in another

It's too bad Mathsoft decided to look at just DOE-Macsyma for a
symbolic backend - funding some work on Axiom might also have produced
very interesting results.  I suppose they want an engineering system
though, and aren't much interested in the strongly typed environments. 


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