More about the Objective of the SAC Network

The following document is part of the SAC Network's proposal.

The central objective of the proposed network for SAC is to create a platform on which the various activities of SAC can be successfully integrated. The potentials of the new algorithms and theories are to be realised by implementing them on the computer for concrete applications, thus bridging the gap between mathematical knowledge, software development and applications. Different aspects of this objective are:

  1. to train young scientists to the interdisciplinary skills needed for such an integration,
  2. to make SAC more useful for applications,
  3. to integrate theoretical research and software development, this is to be attained by giving an organisational frame for carrying out big and integrated projects that are beyond the manpower of single research groups,
  4. to disseminate in an efficient manner knowledge and results, to be attained via a distributed information system and workshops, the participants will act as a distribution point to other SAC-groups in the region.
  5. to encourage and stimulate applications and to make sure that there is feedback from the application side to designers and theorists,
  6. to stimulate new research in mathematics, computer science and applications.

The goals of this proposal are essentially precompetitive: making symbolic and algebraic computation operational implies that an essential tool for progress is developed, which can be applied to obtain marketable products and processes.

The funding of the network will be used to give an initial push for the establishment of localised, distributed services to the community that are linked as well as possible but can be maintained locally without too great a burden for the respective local organisation further on.

The aim of integrating theoretical research and software development is met with the following programme. The leaders of the participating research groups will form a scientific committee. Such a committee is responsible for organising the collaboration and coordinating the scientific work. The committee will define in a democratic manner the themes within the above aim of integration, and divide the tasks and responsibilities among the participants. This research will be supported by workshops, visits within the network, experts visiting from outside the network, and so forth. Finally the resulting software systems and publications will be distributed and brought forward to the scientific and technical community by seminars and in journals. If a project within a theme is directed towards an application coming from a third party, it will be the rule that this third party is invited to cooperate in the research.

The research will be performed by junior and senior scientists, while the leading researchers will provide direction and their experience. The work on these projects by junior scientists ensures that the current lack of scientists with the needed interdisciplinary expertise will diminish. Thus training of scientists takes place and therefore the quantity and quality of scientists with skills in SAC will increase.

Basic for all kinds of cooperation is the knowledge inventory of what the individual research teams are doing, what they have done, and the access to their results. It will be a major task to have this information available and at the disposal of all participating institutes. This second aim of efficient dissemination of knowledge is organised in the following way. Participants have been carefully selected for

  1. having a strong interest and experience in SAC,
  2. their geographic location and, if relevant, their relation to a regional research structure, like the Italian CAMASA or the German computer algebra group,
  3. bringing in additional knowledge, complementary to that of the others.
Each participant will be responsible for the dissemination of the knowledge among the SAC research groups in their region or country, but also in the field of their particular strength.

Exchange of information will take place through

The distributed database will be accessible by third parties. It will be modelled on two very successful existing systems. The first model is GOPHER, an information service whose contents are distributed worldwide. Information servers build and maintain a database. Clients can look for any piece of information or file in any of the databases that a server provides. The second model is NA-NET, the successful network for numerical mathematicians, in the USA (but accessible from abroad). It supplies, among other facilities, a directory of members; ways to find connections; a weekly newsletter with vacancies, abstracts of major journals, congress reports, obituaries, scientific queries; subfiles listing abstracts of reports and TeX sources; addresses from which the latter might be gotten; software database with catalogue and available software; error listings of goldies (i.e., the classical books in the field). It is our intention to set up cooperation with other nets and information servers, like Elib (Berlin) and the Euromath Centre in Copenhagen.

One of the essential features of this proposal is the preeminent usage of electronic networks. It will not only be used for electronic mail, but it is also possible to share documents and computations if there are computing facilities that are accessible to all parties. Part of this proposal is to develop the facilities necessary for such tele-research.

The resulting increased cooperation between the different centres within the network will lead to the following achievements:

For the management of the network a scientific committee and a network coordinator are responsible. The scientific committee is formed from the leaders of the participating research groups. It has a democratic structure, all members operate on an equal basis and it is concerned with the organisation of the collaboration and the coordination of the scientific work. It is not qualified to prescribe a research topic to a participating research group, but can allocate organisation tasks and the associated funding.

The committee has the following tasks:

  1. defining research projects that fit in the network objective,

  2. divide tasks and responsibilities among the participants,

  3. possibly invite partners in research from within the conglomerates and possibly from without,

  4. coordinate publication and distribution of results and computer systems.

The network coordinator is responsible for:

  1. official contacts for the network,

  2. administration for the network,

  3. coordination of the building of the information system.

A small editorial committee takes care of a newsletter and a bulletin board. The chief editorship circulates among the research leaders.

In view of the aim of decentralised management, a participant is held responsible for some of the tasks belonging to the research projects. It will take care of the organisation of the joint research, thus involving other research groups. It may also invite scientists from inside or outside of the network, organise workshops, or do anything else to ensure good research. A participant is also responsible for a part of the distributed information system.

Dissemination in the broad scientific community will be furthered by

The intended network coordinator is Arjeh M. Cohen, who is scientific director of RIACA and professor at the Technical University of Eindhoven. He is also the leader of the computer algebra research group at CWI. The SAC system LiE for computations in Lie groups has been developed by his group. He has published several papers on computer algebra and computational Lie group theory, and is co-author of several books. Arjeh Cohen has played a leading rôle in setting up the international research institute RIACA, dedicated to applications of computer algebra, and the Expertise Centre Computer Algebra Netherlands. Moreover he has been editor of Geometriae Dedicata and CWI Quarterly, and is member of the board of the Dutch research groups in Discrete Mathematics and in Algebra and Geometry. Arjeh Cohen is the course director of the seminar series SCAFI, which deals with case studies of computer algebra applied in industry and from which a book is forthcoming.

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Last update: June 9, 1997