> < ^ Date: Fri, 30 Jun 1995 16:05:00 +0200
> < ^ From: Joachim Neubueser <joachim.neubueser@math.rwth-aachen.de >
> ^ Subject: GAP, 1997, me and all that

Dear Forum members,

Some weeks ago, many of you will have received a letter from three
Australian colleagues, seeking support for a petition requesting the
postponement of my retirement which is due on July 31, 1997. When I
was informed of this motion some days after that letter had been sent
out, this came as a complete surprise to me, the motion had not been
discussed with me beforehand, let alone that I had asked for it.
Meanwhile I have been told that such support has been offered by
several colleagues and in the first place I want to thank these for
their apparent appreciation of my attempts to further GAP.

I have to report however that the initiative will not change the date
of my retirement. In fact when the initiative was started the
advertisement inviting applications for the professorship, that I hold
at present, was already going into print

The letter of the Australian colleagues certainly overrated my merits
in the development of GAP, the names of the many (mostly young)
colleagues and students who really did the work of creating GAP and
its documentation are listed with the 'GAP banner' that you see when
you call GAP on your computer and on the title page of the manual, and
the names of those who contributed the various share packages are
given with the description of these. I cannot deny however that it has
been my role as chairman of Lehrstuhl D fuer Mathematik, RWTH Aachen,
to provide the present environment for the development and maintenance
of the central parts of GAP and for the service to the community of
the GAP users.

Therefore the initiative of the Australian colleagues may have left
some of you wondering what will happen with GAP after my retirement,
and in fact the initiative has made clear to me that a decision on
this question has to be found soon. After careful consideration and
discussion with various colleagues, I have come to the conclusion not
to take the risk if my successor as chairman of Lehrstuhl D, who after
all might get determined only short before my retirement, will be
interested to further the development of GAP in a similar way as I
have done. It seemed to be better and safer for GAP and the community
of its users to hand the responsibility for GAP in time before my
retirement to a group of colleagues who are both competent and willing
to take over the work of the further development and maintenance of

I am happy to announce that the colleagues at St. Andrews, Scotland,
whom I approached with this request, are not only offering to take
over but have indicated strong interest in this task. Let me briefly
introduce them:

As members of the GAP-forum you will know Dr. Steve Linton who already
for a long time has frequently helped answering questions raised in
the GAP-forum or GAP-trouble. Many of you will further know him
through his research in CGT and through his contributions to GAP. In
my opinion Steve probably knows GAP interna best among all people
outside Aachen.

Many of you will also know Professor Ed Robertson and Dr. Colin
Campbell, not only by their work, e.g. in the area of algorithmic
investigation of f.p. groups, but also as splendid organisers of the
'Groups St. Andrews conferences'. Ed in addition for the past years
has been the coordinator of an EC-sponsored 'Human Capital and
Mobility' project on CGT that joins teams from 11 West European
universities working in this field. Together with Dr. John O'Connor,
who also works on CGT at St. Andrews, Ed has won the 'European
Academic Software Award 1994' for the mathematics teaching system

St. Andrews moreover enjoys a close cooperation of mathematics and
computer science in a joint department. In fact Professor Ursula
Martin and Professor Mike Atkinson, both professors of computer
science in this department, the latter being its present head, both
started as group theoreticians and continue to work in areas in which
algebra and computer science meet. Many of you will know Mike as the
editor of the 1982 Durham proceedings, still a must in CGT.

I am most confident that GAP will continue to grow and to improve in
the hands of the colleagues in St. Andrews.

Let me briefly indicate the present state of the planning. As
mentioned before in the Forum, the Aachen team is presently working on
a version 4 of GAP, which, while being upward compatible again, will
offer for instance much better facilities for the introduction of new
algebraic structures, improvements of certain kernel functions etc. We
hope that a first version (4.1) will become available during the first
half of 1996 and a second version (4.2) with additions to the library,
some of which are already under construction, may follow not so long
after. We plan that these developments will still take place in
Aachen. The final move of 'GAP headquarters' to St. Andrews may then
happen in about 18 - 22 months from now. This gives us plenty of
leeway to prepare for an absolutely smooth move, e.g. by frequent
visits between St. Andrews and Aachen, for which the above-mentioned
EC project provides both a fitting frame and financial support.

Let me add that in discussions with several colleagues, some of which
took place during the recent DIMACS meeting on CGT, we talked about
still closer international cooperation in the development of GAP, in
which other teams could increasingly bring in special expertise. As
just one example let me mention that my colleague Prof. Herbert
Pahlings in Lehrstuhl D will (of course) continue to support the
representation theoretic parts of the GAP program and data library.
However I want to leave it to the St. Andrews team to possibly set up
a more formal structure for such enterprises. This may in fact be done
as a first step in a gradual take-over.

Let me finally state a point that is very important to me. The
colleagues in St. Andrew completely agree with me that also in their
hands GAP will remain a system that can be obtained free of charge and
with completely open source of kernel, library and data. Also the
present support of the community of GAP users by GAP-forum and
GAP-trouble will be maintained.

I hope that with this report I have been able to convince you that all
is being done to make sure that my retirement will not have any
negative effects on the further development of GAP, rather I hope that
the new team will bring in fresh ideas. In line with policy that we
have followed all the time you will be kept fully informed about all
later steps taken in moving GAP to St. Andrews.

Wishing you fun and success using GAP long beyond that date in 1997,

Joachim Neubueser

> < [top]