|From:||M. Edward (Ed) Borasky|
|Subject:||Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software|
|Date:||Tue, 27 Nov 2007 07:24:09 -0800|
|User-agent:||Thunderbird 22.214.171.124 (X11/20071031)|
Michel Lavaud wrote:
If the plane I'm flying is built based on simulations with commercial mathematical software tools, whose accuracy is guaranteed in the usual way, i.e. no guarantee at all except refund for the price of the software whatever consequences and it is forbidden to get the source code to check if it is correct - then I will for sure take the next plane, if it has been built with free Open Source software :-)If the plane I'm flying is built based on simulations with commercial mathematical software tools, I surely want them to be the best.
[snip]I've heard this argument before -- it's fallacious on a number of levels, and I don't have time to dig into it right now. But I want to remind people that:
1. Aircraft used to be designed with slide rules and mechanical desk calculators. The equations involved are "open source" in the sense that everyone who is a professional aeronautical engineer learns them in college, knows them intimately. What today's computers allow us to do is build larger and more complex aviation systems that are more economical on fuel.
2. Very few aircraft crashes are caused by design flaws of any kind, and even fewer by incorrect software. Human error at the time of the flight and sabotage/terrorism/military actions are the two main causes of aircraft crashes. The only really blatant example of a design flaw causing aircraft crashes I can remember was the DeHavilland Comet. That was not a software flaw as far as I know -- I'm not even sure scientific computers were available outside of the military when the Comet was designed, and they would have been on the scale of a Von Neumann/IAS machine, or maybe an IBM 704, if they were.
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