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[Axiom-developer] RE: Aldor and Axiom

From: Bill Page
Subject: [Axiom-developer] RE: Aldor and Axiom
Date: Mon, 13 Feb 2006 16:57:30 -0500

On February 13, 2006 4:22 PM C Y wrote:
> --- Bill Page wrote:
> > ... (Sorry Cliff, I don't mean to sound
> > too harsh but we have so few resources working on Axiom that I
> > worry that such unrealistic ideas can only serve to divert our
> > attention from what we can actually accomplish.)
> No problem - I definitely don't have experience with implementing
> compilers, and I have no desire at all to be "irresponsible". 

Ok, good. Communicating by email is always a danger since it is so
hard to "smile while you say something that sounds critical". Just
sometimes I feel so strongly about something that I can resist. :)

> But from my perspective (which may or may not be accurate) we are 
> being hindered by the uncertainty surrounding SPAD vs. Aldor.

I that the Axiom is being hindered by the fact the Aldor is not yet
available as open source.

> If we can't implement our own Aldor compiler, that's OK, but we
> can't wait forever for the one that does exist to be released -
> projects can die from uncertainty and lack of momentum.


> If some resolution isn't found fairly soon I would recommend we
> pick a direction and go, even if it's cleaning up SPAD and not
> worrying about Aldor except maybe for a design idea or two.
> ...

I still firmly believe that Aldor is the best way forward. Given
that everyone who has posted to the:

petition (including Steven Watt!) has been positive about the
idea of making Aldor open source, I think we should just proceed
based on that idea. At this point I think we could even safely
start distributing the Aldor source code as an (optional?) part
of the Axiom source code distribution. We could state clearly
up front that the eventual license conditions are not yet
finalized but cover simply all bases by provisionally choosing
the most restrictive open source licensing - GPL for now. Later
this could be opened up to the BSD-style license that covers
most of the rest of Axiom, provided the interested parties all

> ... 
> OK.  I guess my confusion comes in with what our actual plan is.
> Are we going to use to work with our existing code 
> base, making a few tweaks and updates to take advantage of Aldor's
> features but keeping the rest as SPAD?

No. I would propose that we proceed according to the original
plan at IBM - to convert all (or as much as possible) of Axiom's
library code from SPAD to Aldor.

> Are we going to try and completely retune the Axiom codebase to
> center on the Aldor language?


> How do we resolve things like Aldor's libalgebra vs. Axiom's
> libraries?

I would propose that we forget about Aldor's native libraries for
now (as nice, though limited, as they are).

> Are we planning to completely document and update the SPAD compiler?

I would choose "no", although if time or experienced people became
available this might be interesting for historical reasons.

> Are we intending to link the discussion and definitions of SPAD/Aldor
> to the core set theory, category theory, and other foundational
> mathematical principles that Axiom is built on?

Yes! At least, where and when possible. I think this will necessarily
be an ongoing task.

> I realize I'm almost useless for this kind of work, but since it
> seems to be the biggest need of Axiom right now I would like to
> help if I can,

I think your questions and suggestions are very useful. Someone
has to raise the level of discussion somehow! :)

> even if it's only something like creating a literate document
> introducing basic set theory or category theory (e.g. something
> I might be able to grasp in time, but also useful to documenting
> the core Axiom system all other work must rely on.)  I guess what
> I'd most like to see is a stage-by-stage kind of plan for the
> Algebra subproject.  Sort of a:
> a)  Document SPAD compiler, foundations in mathematical theory,
> core structures of Axiom algebra
> b)  Identify and document "core" functionality, which is to say
> functionality which a large part of the Axiom system depends 
> on.  Debug code and concepts, possibly implement unit test
> framework.
> c)  Work our way up the ladder, so to speak.  Higher level
> functionality documented as the underpinnings become well
> documented and well defined.
> type of list.

I would replace a) with conversion of the Axiom library to
Aldor, but the rest seems great to me.

> Maybe this isn't workable with something as involved as
> Axiom, but right now it's almost overwhelming - where should
> one look first for the job of building a rock solid core on
> which the subsequent tuning, debugging, and development can
> depend?    

I think you have the right idea. :)

Bill Page.

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