On Nov 18, 2007 12:59 PM, <address@hidden> wrote:
Sixth, computational mathematics, which currently rests on closed
source commercial efforts, will eventually suffer from a massive
"black hole" once the current software dies. Suppose Wolfram Research
and Maplesoft go out of business. That might seem unlikely but there
are very few companies that last more than 50 years. Since software is
now considered an asset it cannot be simply given away. (Even if the
software was opened-sourced it is poorly documented according to
people who know the source). We could have the situation like
Macsyma, where the company folded and the source code is never
released. Is this what the NSF sees as the correct long term basis for
a fundamental science like computational mathematics?
I think you're right to be worried about exactly these things. Some people
in my research area (number theory / arithmetic geometry) are
worried about this right now in the context of Magma, whose longterm future is
hazy at present. There are actually many examples like this already, e.g.,
Mupad doesn't seem to be doing so well commercially, and maybe
researchers who have written a lot of mupad code aren't so happy about this...