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Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software

From: M. Edward (Ed) Borasky
Subject: Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 07:10:28 -0800
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20071031)

William Stein wrote:
Well I'm trying to directly compete with heavily financed commercial
systems.  I think you are wrong that one cannot win.  Linux, Firefox,
OpenOffice, etc., are all examples of direct competition with heavily
financed commercial systems, where they have all won, at least
where "win" means establish a large solid user base and be a viable
alternative to MS Windows, MS Internet Explorer, and MS Office.

Well ... if you mean "*Red Hat* Linux has won a significant market share in servers", I agree. However, I don't think as a user that either Firefox or OpenOffice are of sufficient quality or maturity to be used on a Windows desktop, and I don't consider what they have accomplished to be a "win". They just aren't viable alternatives for anything but casual home use. I use them on Linux because they are there, but they aren't on my Windows desktop at work and probably never will be.

I *might* be able to get Axiom there briefly, but more than likely I would be told that I didn't need it and that if I did need a math package, that I needed to write a cost justification and do competitive bids for a commercial package. That's just the way the corporate world works.

There is nothing particularly special about mathematics software that
makes it winning in a similar sense impossible, as much as Wolfram
would argue that (as he often used to do in interviews I've read online).

I disagree. Mathematics software is the most difficult software to write, and it's market is very limited. And *symbolic* mathematics software / theorem proving are more difficult to write than numeric software. I've never used Mathematica, and only briefly used Maple, so I can't really compare either of them with Axiom in the same sense as I compared OpenOffice with Microsoft Office, Firefox with Internet Explorer, or the Linux desktop with the Windows desktop in the context of a corporate workstation. But again, I'm guessing that people who can cost-justify Mathematica or Maple will keep them in business and "winning."

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