> < ^ Date: Thu, 06 Jan 1994 10:36:00 +0100
> < ^ From: Joachim Neubueser <joachim.neubueser@math.rwth-aachen.de >
^ Subject: New attempt

Dear forum members,

Let me first apologise that without prior warning the forum has not
been working properly for a few weeks. In the course of some
reconfiguration of our computers and service software the mailer for
the forum has been replaced in order to get better protection against
unwanted bouncing of mail etc. . However it has taken more time than
anticipated to get over some difficulties with the new mailer. As a
result of this some incoming mail for the forum has waited some time
until it is sent round now and also a letter of mine has reached some
of you more than once and in truncated form. I append this letter
again and hope that it will now reach all in full. We hope that now
the forum is back to order. We think that no mail to the forum has got
lost in this process, but if this should be the case with some letter
of yours would you please be so kind to send it in again now.

Let me also answer in public and again with apologies some questions
and (quite justified) complaints that have been sent a few times to

There has been no send-out of patches for GAP 3.3 so far, the first
one will come only after the end of this month.

It always takes some time until a new GAP version or a patch is
available from all servers listed in the GAP-Announcement. This is not
completely under our control but needs the help of the local
adminstrators of these servers. We apologize for inconvenience caused
by trying without success to obtain announced releases from some
servers, on which it became available only later. Please try to obtain
the software in such cases from the Aachen server.

For some of the ports to other computers we rely on the generous help
of colleagues since we do not have these computers easily available to
us here. This is in particular so with the port to MAC's. Please
understand that these therefore will as a rule become available only
with a certain delay, since the port has to be done by these third
parties after the release of the new version and they may well be
occupied with more urgent own work just at that moment.

Wishing you a good 1994 and in spite of  all listed above some further
fun with GAP
                       Joachim Neubueser

Here then once more and hopefully finally my letter

In his letter to the GAP-forum of Dec. 13, Jeffrey Hsu asked:

I'm interested in teaching abstract algebra with GAP. Are there any
course material available for this purpose. I read in manual.dvi
that there were several in preperation. What's the status of these
efforts and has students found them helpful as supplementary

The short passage in the preface of the manual, which Jeffrey Hsu is
quoting, refers to a discussion in the GAP-forum in 1992, when Michael
K. Johnson and Donald L. Kreher reported about plans to develop course
material for the use of GAP for teaching abstract algebra. I have
also given a description of the situation in Aachen in the GAP-forum
at that time. For convenience I append the three letters to this one.
(Please note at this occasion that all non-trivial correspondance in
the GAP-forum is available in the GAP-distribution in the 'etc'

In the meantime we have held the workshop on Computational Group
Theory during the Groups '93 conference in Galway this August and this
included 'practical exercises' using GAP, for which we had prepared a
set of problems and solutions. We intend to supplement this by further
problems, organise these problems and solutions in a standard form and
make the whole file available through ftp together with GAP
eventually; at present, if somebody wants to have it, we can send this
collection in its not completely well-organised form without warranty.

I would very much welcome if Michael K. Johnson and Donald L. Kreher
as well as others who might have used GAP in teaching could tell us in
the GAP-forum about their experience and in fact, if such exists
meanwhile, could make course material available.

Kind regards     Joachim Neubueser
Michel K. Johnson's letter:

Date: Sat, 31 Oct 1992 00:37:32 +01
From: Michael K Johnson <johnsonm@stolaf.edu>
Subject: Teaching Abstract Algebra with GAP

A few of us at St. Olaf are writing a Laboratory Manual for GAP which
is intended to complement (although it does not /require/) Joseph
Gallian's text Contemporary_Abstract_Algebra. We would like to know
if anyone else is using GAP to teach undergraduate abstract algebra,
and if so, what pedagogical materials you use or have developed.

If anyone is using GAP in this way, please contact me.


Donald L. Kreher's letter:

Date: Mon, 2 Nov 1992 13:35:49 +0100
From: Donald L. Kreher <kreher@math.mtu.edu>
Subject: Re: Teaching Abstract Algebra with GAP

A few of us at St. Olaf are writing a Laboratory Manual for GAP which
is intended to complement (although it does not /require/) Joseph
Gallian's text Contemporary_Abstract_Algebra. We would like to know
if anyone else is using GAP to teach undergraduate abstract algebra,
and if so, what pedagogical materials you use or have developed.
If anyone is using GAP in this way, please contact me.

I was hoping to do rougghly the same, but with Rotman's Group Theory
Text. I would be very interested in seeing your Lab Manual. Also in
particular I would be interested in any other recomendations from
persons using GAP in Graduate Group Theory, Algebra or Discrete
Mathematics Courses.

Don Kreher

My letter:

Subject: Use of GAP in teaching
Date: Mon, 2 Nov 1992 17:05:28 MET

Michael K. Johnson and Don Kreher report that they are working on the
development of course material using GAP and ask where else work of
this kind is done.

It will be no surprise that we do use GAP in teaching in Aachen,
although we have not written a laboratory manual or systematic course
material. In order to explain the situation it should perhaps first be
explained that the contents of courses is less fixed in German
universities than it usually seems to be in the US, that is, each of
us rather goes his own way in teaching a course on group theory, say,
and may also change his course from one year to another. With this
reservation made, one can say that we have perhaps two main lines in
integrating algorithmic methods and the use of a system such as GAP
into such a course.

In one line, which I have followed two years ago, I gave a course that
was entitled "Groups, theory and algorithms" parts I and II over a
full year, in which algorithmic aspects and methods were closely knit
into the theory, e.g. the course - that assumed a course on Algebra I
which gave the basics up to Jordan-Hoelder and Sylow - started with
free groups and presentations and alongside with the theory introduced
computational methods such as Todd-Coxeter, Reidemeister-Schreier,
Low-index and IMD. These then were treated through easy
hand-calculations as well as examples using programs in the exercises
( at that time we had partially to resort to SPAS because the
algorithms were not all in GAP yet, but they will be in GAP 3.2 to be
released soon ). In a similar way then permutation groups, soluble
groups and p-groups were treated. This course was followed by a
further year on representation theory, of which I gave the first
semester on ordinary representation theory, again interlacing theory
with computational methods mainly for charactertheory, again using
GAP, which provides quite a lot of possibilities in this field.

For these courses we have files with the weekly exercises given to
the students and some percentage of these involve the use of GAP. If
somebody is interested to get these ( in German and not specially
organized for export ) we will be happy to send them.

In another setup, which we follow this year, my colleague, Prof.
Pahlings will give a more traditional one-semester course on group
theory, in which again GAP may be used occasionally, but more as a
black box, while most of the algorithmic aspects will be treated in a
separate course by me next summer, in which GAP will naturally play a
more central role. Prof Pahlings meanwhile will already go on to
representation theory next summer.

We have followed that line also some years ago, both seem to have
advantages and drawbacks and I really cannot say that I recommend one
of them as the better setup.

Generally we tend to allow or even recommend the use of GAP also in
other courses such as the introductory algebra course. We hope that
for students, who nowadays tend to come being pretty well used to
PASCAL or the like, using GAP is not so difficult, so in these courses
usually we have made no attempt with a systematic introduction to GAP
but rather have "let things happen" and this is perhaps even so with
the above-mentioned courses. But I am sure we could do better than
that and hence I would be very interested to get whatever course
material is developed. I would also very much welcome if such material
- perhaps after some test with students - could be made generally
available alongside with GAP.

Joachim Neubueser

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