[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [Axiom-developer] New blood in Axiom (was: Community)

From: Gabriel Dos Reis
Subject: Re: [Axiom-developer] New blood in Axiom (was: Community)
Date: 20 May 2007 07:15:22 -0500

"Alasdair McAndrew" <address@hidden> writes:

| Well, I can tell you why I have hesitated about joining the Axiom effort:
| 1)  Axiom gives the impression of being more difficult and abstruse than
| other systems; the moment you get started you are inundated with information
| about categories, domains and operations.  This has enormous strength, but
| nonetheless makes Axiom appear bewilderingly complicated.
| 2)  The online documentation is very poor.  HyperDoc (which is itself
| incomplete) under unix, and some confusing system commands such as ")d op
| differentiate", ")wh th int" which produce output meaningless to the
| beginning user.  There are the books, but they are no substitute for good
| online help.
| 3)  There is not much in the way of a decent user interface.  I think
| TeXmacs and console is about it?  And HyperDoc isn't obtainable from
| TeXmacs.
| 4)  It doesn't seem to be particularly cross-platform.
| 5)  There seems to be some lack of cohesion amongst the Axiom developers as
| to the direction in which Axiom should go.
| I must admit that my main interest is in mathematics education, in which I
| think a GPL CAS has enormous potential.  But at the moment I think Maxima is
| ahead of Axiom on all the points I have mentioned.

* The fact that Axiom is unfocused as project is definitely a factor.
  I do hope that as time passes, it will get better.

* I've used Axiom as my primary system last fall in my symbolic
  computations class.  overall, it went well.  The main difficulty was
  for students to get Axiom on various platforms.  Linux was OK,
  windows was almost OK but ancient version, Mac OS was a disaster.

  So, I've focused on getting recent Axiom work on Windows; it was not
  terribly hard, but resource consuming.  Now, it is done.  And I
  think we can compile on more platforms.

  I had very positive feedback from students, some of them indicated
  that working on an open source project was attractive to them --
  they had the feeling of contributing something.

* My last class on run-time systems listed some projects related to
  Axiom run time systems and Lisp; they attracted far less people and
  appeared less exciting than projects with JVM and its proof of
  correction using Isabelle/HOL.

* There is some perception that because Axiom lets you do advanced
  things (thanks to its type system), beginners must know about every
  concepts right from the start, to do everything Right.

  I don't agree with that.  And I believe the original designers of
  Axiom realized that too, and in later development of Axiom proposed
  the notion of "B natural", which has been discussed to death on this
  list.   Nothing seems to be moving on that front probably because of
  lack of resource.

* Documentation is a very important aspect to attract new blood.  I
  believe it would be helpful if new people like you could record what
  they have learnt so far somewhere either in the Axiom pamphlet or on
  the wiki somewhere.

  There are some issues as to why documentation is not making
  progress.  First, it is a time consuming job.  Second, researchers
  are paid to do research and not document already known material.
  Consequently, they are unlikely to get funded for doing *just* that,
  or tenured for doing *just* that. 
  [ in the US at least, tenure committees "measure" the length of
    publications -- publish or perish. ] 

  Documentation may come of out research work as a by-product of the
  research done, but it is unlikely to be the primary focus.

  Third, if documentation must be done Right, then I fear we will be
  spending more time debating how it must be done than actually doing
  something.  We must be tolerant of incremental improvements.

Overall, I do hope that I actively join us, even if you think you do
not contribute much.  It will come.  We all started somewhere.

-- Gaby

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]