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[Axiom-developer] Re: [sage-devel] Re: Fwd: New Journal

From: root
Subject: [Axiom-developer] Re: [sage-devel] Re: Fwd: New Journal
Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2008 10:30:26 -0400


>As the outgoing editor-in-chief of the LMS-JCM (London Mathematical
>Society Journal of Computation and Mathematics) (for the next 5 days,
>when Derek Holt takes over), and also an editor of the Journal of
>Algebra's Section on Computational Algebra, I feel obliged to ask
>exactly what the new journal(s) will provide which existing ones do
>not.  The JCM is all-electronic.  See here
>( for its aims and scope,
>which explicitly include source code and tables and the like, which
>traditional journals do not have space for.
>I am definitely not saying that there's no room for anything new in
>this area, but I am interested to know what the LMS JCM is not doing
>which it could be.  Of course, it may just be that none of the j-sag
>board have heard of it, and if that is the case then I should
>certainly know that!

Dr. Traverso and I have been thinking along different lines in
terms of freely available electronic publications. Your site is
academically interesting but misses the point. Of course you might
not care about the goals we've been trying to achieve so the rest
of this note might not apply. 

Doyen was the initial idea. See <>
(The Doyen CD for Sage by Alfredo Portes has this eventual goal.)

The basic idea is that I attend a conference where a paper is 
presented. During the lecture I can visit the URL, drag and drop
the paper being presented onto my system (Axiom, Sage, ...) and
immediately have a running version. Thus, if the author was
presenting efficiency claims, I could populate the tables for my
own machine during the lecture. Or I could execute the examples
and my own tests during the talk. In any case, I'd end up with
a useful tool which is immediately accessible rather than having
to re-understand (poorly), re-implement (badly), the years of
work that the author did.

The terms and conditions do not allow me to include the material
into Axiom or Sage. For Axiom's goals in particular this is not

Axiom is becoming a literate program (ref: Knuth, See:

As a literate program it is necessary to be able to rework the
source material into a form that can further the user's ability
to understand. So the terms and conditions have to allow us to,
at bare minimum, redistribute the material, which the LMS Term
and Conditions do not. (ref: <>)

Two key, long-term goals of Axiom are to make the whole system
available for research and available for teaching. In sum, these
require that the research be kept with the code and that the code
be intertwined with the associated research. As a matter of style
the eventual result will look quite different from your "publication"
style but the style is vitally important to the user's ability
to read the result in some literate fashion.

Furthermore, the distribution in PDF ("compiled form") without the
TeX ("source form") makes these papers only marginally useful for
further work (akin to "binary-only" algebra for Sage). The closed
source nature of the site reproduces the paper-based world. That 
misses the whole point of electronic copies.

If you read the terms and conditions for the LMS journal it is
clear that they keep the material from being useful in practice.

As intellectual "bricks" the license allows me to contemplate
the pretty shapes and random sizes of these bricks but I cannot
join and reshape them into a useful larger structure. LMS is
basically an "art gallery", not a supply house. That makes it
pretty, but not very useful as a source of further work.

Perhaps you might consider asking the authors for permission
to re-distribute in "attribution-only" form, the source form
of their documents. Think of it as a GPLv2 request that Sage
makes for their authors. Axiom is Modified BSD and we strongly
encourage people to re-use the material in any way they might
find useful.

It is the age of electronics. We want to use work in computational
mathematics NOW, not next year. We can't afford large amounts of
time to re-implement and re-debug every single new algorithm or
enhancement. Authors who make this easy will be "most quoted" in
running systems and those who don't will not. Sage gives the
possibility of thousands of users overnight. 

Besides, it is clearly a useful "citation" if your code is already
running on the tenure committee's laptops :-)

Tim Daly

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