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[Axiom-developer] Semasiology lecture

From: root
Subject: [Axiom-developer] Semasiology lecture
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 23:39:02 -0500


I'm Tim Daly, the lead developer of the Axiom computer algebra
system which is open source, he said, with a grin.

Axiom was originally developed at IBM Research and I was one of
the original authors. IBM sold it to the Numerical Algorithms
Group (NAG) in 1992 and it was on the commercial market as a 
competitor to Mathematica and Maple. In 2001, NAG withdrew the
system and gave me the "source code" under the Modified BSD license.

Fifteen years had passed since I last saw my own code and I was
horrified to find that I no longer understood how it worked. 
Needless to say not one of the hundreds of files and millions
of lines of code had any comments.

Having pondered the problem for a while I spent a year restructuring
the system so that it no longer contains any Makefiles, lisp code,
C code, axiom algebra code or any naked source code at all. Virtually
every file in the system is now a latex document and everything is a
literate program. It is likely the largest literate program in the

At the present time we're involved in rewriting all of the individual
literate files into book volumes. The system currently contains 10
volumes which are intended to contain the executable lines of code.

The realization is that we wrote the original system for the machine.
But computer algebra software is unique in that the integral of the
sine of x will still have the same value a hundred years from now.
If we want computer algebra (or any software) to survive for
a hundred years we need to write for people and not machines.

You have two lectures that I've just discovered

where you make this point clearly. I would like permission to include
these two MP3 files as part of the Axiom distribution. I should point
out that I'm asking more from respect than from legal obligation
although the second is still a motivation.

Hoping for a positive response, 

Tim Daly

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