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Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software
From: |
root |
Subject: |
Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software |
Date: |
Mon, 26 Nov 2007 13:01:33 -0500 |
==> Tim Daly writes
>> I believe that if such a system were available now there would be
>> much less incentive for Universities to use closed source software.
>> And, by implication, more work (more science) would be done using
>> open software as a base. Eventually the loss of commercial versions
>> that don't meet these standards would become a non-issue. Directly
>> competing with heavily financed commercial systems cannot win and
>> ultimately leads the science in the wrong long term direction.
==> William Stein writes:
>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.
>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).
>
>OK, thanks for clarifying that. I guess it's exactly intended as a
>counterbalance to my whole approach to mathematical software since I'm
>primarily interested in "short-term thinking (e.g. competition with
>commercial software)".
==> Ed Borasky writes:
>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."
Clearly you've not studied your "Art of War" by Sun Tsu. :-)
I paraphrase:
The best way to win the (commercial) war is not to fight it.
A good general wins without fighting. Picture the whole game as
a fight on a large, open field with you facing the 3 Ms, MMA,
Maple, Matlab.
A frontal attack against a strongly held point never wins. You are
trying a direct head-to-head competition against a well financed,
heavily backed position. As Ed points out, even if you *could* match
the 3Ms point for point in the usual checklist feature game there are
still forces which make it difficult, if not impossible, for people to
use your software. You plan to march onto the field of battle,
confront the enemy strength-to-strengh, and win by force of arms.
That's not strategic thinking, and clearly not a successful strategy.
You let the enemy define your tactics. That is, if MMA develops a new
parallel matrix multiply (opening a new wing of the battle), you must
turn to confront this and apply effort to develop a similar checklist
point. Since they are larger, faster, and better financed it is
unlikely that you can match them continuously on every point. Linux
plays this game, and loses, on the desktop. That's not strategic
thinking, and clearly not a successful strategy.
You train recruits for your enemy. Because you fight the same battle
on the same turf with the same tactics, the people you lose to industry
are perfectly trained to compete against you. Thus the person who
writes the great new prototype harmonic analysis software for his
thesis (giving you a new checklist point nobody competes with), then
this same person is perfect for the 3Ms to hire. In fact, the best use
of his talent would be to develop a better version of his thesis work
and add it as a new, better checklist feature point. Thus, you trained
and financed your enemy. That's not strategic thinking, and clearly
not a successful strategy.
You give away your material freely to your enemy. Because you work in
open source and you encourage publication of your work the enemy can
see everything. But the publications are tiny (5 pages) and the thesis
work is obscure so it will take much time to convert this into a
useful "product". The 3Ms have the idea, the time, and the money. You
gave it all to them because you published the idea, trained the
people, and bought 3M's software "for the department". That's not
strategic thinking, and clearly not a successful strategy.
You let the enemy use your own strength against you. What's to stop
the 3Ms from becoming useable with the Sage front end? How hard would
it be for them to define "plug-ins" that either use the MMA workbook
browser or the full Maple engine? If mathml allows one to transfer
(content-free) equations from one system to another, cannot one of
those systems be one of the 3Ms? Thus they gut your whole system.
They can make the claim that they "work with Sage" which allows them
to sell licenses to locations where you've "won". That's not strategic
thinking, and clearly not a successful strategy.
I don't know why you've chosen to benefit the enemy but I can't prevent it.
I could go on but Tsu's book is small, cheap, and widely available.
I also would like to replace these commercial systems with open
systems. (Actually, I'd like to replace commerce with science.)
However, my plan is to change the war so that the 3Ms cannot compete
and their field of battle, which they strongly hold, is irrelevant. By
redefining what the "best of breed" systems mean, and by defining them
so that commercial systems cannot compete, the battle is won without a
fight.
Commercial systems cannot compete against a fully documented, literate
system. They cannot compete in proving their software is correct if they
cannot show the software. They cannot compete if there are standards
that every system must meet in order to ensure that ANY system can be
used that fulfills the standard.
Clearly, systems that are fully documented, literate, proven, and
standards-conforming are "best of breed". And they also happened to
be "open" but that's just a required fact, not a feature.
A frontal attack against a strongly held point never wins. But I don't
plan to attack. I have redefined the fight so they can't compete.
You let the enemy define your tactics. But I don't care about their
tactics. I can't prevent short term wins. But battles do not decide
the outcome of wars.
You train recruits for your enemy. Training people to write fully
literate papers that just drag-and-drop means that they are trained
to publish everything which is a skill that the 3Ms can't use. By
training them to use, modify, and enhance each other's work and build
on prior science the 3Ms have to worry about huge legal issues whereas
you can just ask me for permission to use (or collaborate with me) on
a new "release" of my literate paper and algorithm.
You give away your material freely to your enemy. But of what use is
conforming to a standard that allows any system to replace any other?
This cannot benefit the 3Ms. And what use is a proof since they cannot
SHOW the code necessary to support the proof? And what use is a thesis
that can be "drag-and-dropped" onto an open system? It already works
and can be quickly enhanced whereas the 3Ms need to rewrite it.
You let the enemy use your own strength against you. The Axiom front
end is the same as the Axiom back end. It's all "of a piece" so that
viewing the documentation and the code are all a single thing. When
you read the documentation like a book (ala Knuth or Queinnec) you
learn the whole system. The 3Ms cannot do this. And Axiom equations
need to carry the type because that's where the meaning is. Thus
mathml isn't a reasonable transfer mechanism and cannot be trojaned.
I could go on but Tsu's book is small, cheap, and widely available.
The 30 year horizon seems like an impossible dream goal. Read Sun Tsu.
It is clear that the fight with the 3Ms will last at least 30 years no
matter what strategy is used. But the strategy you've chosen actually
works for them and against you. My strategy makes the 3Ms useless toys.
Raise your eyes to the 30 year horizon.
Choose a winning strategy. Follow it.
Tim
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, (continued)
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, root, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, William Stein, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, M. Edward (Ed) Borasky, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, Doug Stewart, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, Arthur Ralfs, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, M. Edward (Ed) Borasky, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, Bill Page, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, Arthur Ralfs, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, Bertfried Fauser, 2007/11/27
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, Bill Page, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software,
root <=
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, William Stein, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, M. Edward (Ed) Borasky, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, root, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, M. Edward (Ed) Borasky, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, Gabriel Dos Reis, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, William Stein, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, Gabriel Dos Reis, 2007/11/26
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, Michel Lavaud, 2007/11/27
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, M. Edward (Ed) Borasky, 2007/11/27
- Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software, Michel Lavaud, 2007/11/27