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[Axiom-developer] RE: FW: summer of code

From: Bill Page
Subject: [Axiom-developer] RE: FW: summer of code
Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2007 15:39:07 -0400

On April 13, 2007 2:37 PM Ondrej Certik wrote:
> ... 
> I think CAS is popular among students (as SAGE or SymPy shows)
> and also I think that a full potential of the computer algebra
> systems was not fully exploited at all so far. However, it needs
> to be usable from a widespread, standard, preferably high-level
> language. Lisp, SPAD, or Aldor are probably not going to be
> mainstream soon (and in my opinion that is the crucial factor
> of attracting more people to any software), but we had this
> discussion already, I know that some of you disagree, but
> that's what I think about it.
> ...

Perhaps there is a little more to say about it.

One thing to keep in mind is that at the time Axiom development
began, circa 1980, Lisp *was* then what one might have been
called a "main stream" language. Arguably it is still main stream
although somewhat marginalized by the current alternatives. Lisp
is an ideal environment for developing new languages so that it
was quite natural for the developers of Axiom to develop a new
language for Axiom as part of the basic design. Even Sage has
a front-end pre-processor to make Python more "friendly" for
math users and it has forked a version of Pyrex as it's
"compiled" language. So I am saying this as a caution: Just
because Python is popular today, this does not provide any long
term guarantee longevity.

But language politics aside, I am no longer convinced that the
association of Axiom with Lisp is particularly beneficial to
the Axiom project. And personally I believe your approach is
right in turns of attracting new people to the subject. For
that reason I do not see any conflict in us pursuing different
parallel paths to the same goals. After all, the internal design
of Axiom and even the SPAD language itself is not so different
than Python. Maybe some day even parts of Axiom might be written
in Python or SymPy might incorporate a large part of the current
Axiom Library in Pythonic form. That this sort of collaboration
might be possible is one of the great strengths of open source
software development.

So lets remain in touch as and when time permits.

Bill Page.

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