> < ^ Date: Wed, 27 Dec 1995 11:48:14 +0100
> < ^ From: Joachim Neubueser <joachim.neubueser@math.rwth-aachen.de >
^ Subject: Interim Report

Dear Forum members,

In a letter of June 30, 1995, I had informed you that in time before
my retirement in July 1997, 'GAP Headquaters' will move from Aachen to
St. Andrews in order to secure a continued development of GAP. In
that letter, I had promised that I would keep you fully informed about
steps taken in that move. Now, half a year later, it may be time for
an interim report and I am very glad that at the same time I can give
you first hints to a number of events coming forth in Computational
Group Theory.

Cooperation between Aachen and St. Andrews has been intensive since
last June. Ed Robertson and Steve Linton have been visiting Aachen,
and in particular Steve has during several visits followed and
discussed very closely the ongoing work on GAP 4. On the other hand,
Goetz Pfeiffer, who got his PhD working at Lehrstuhl D with Herbert
Pahlings, is now spending two years of an HCM sponsored postdoc time
at St. Andrews. Also Werner Nickel, who got his diploma at Lehrstuhl
D as one of the 'gang of four' that started GAP, and then got his PhD
with Mike Newman in Canberra, after two further years as a postdoc at
Lehrstuhl D, is now going for a three years' assignment as a research
and teaching fellow to St. Andrews.

In my letter of June 30, I had also rather vaguely hinted at
strengthening the international cooperation in the development of
GAP. Today I can report about some steps taken.

1. The 'GAP Council'.

A number of senior colleagues, engaged in a broad spectrum of areas in
computational group theory have agreed to form a 'GAP Council' that
will advise on broad policy issues in the continued development of
GAP. An important function of this council will be its role as an
editorial board for external contributions to GAP. Since this is a new
idea, I want to explain it under the separate point 2 in the
sequel. The present members of the council are:

Mike Atkinson, St. Andrews
Andrea Caranti, Trento
Gene Cooperman, Northeastern U., Boston
Derek Holt, Warwick U., Coventry
Steve Linton, St. Andrews,
Mike Newman, ANU, Canberra
Herbert Pahlings, RWTH Aachen
Cheryl Praeger, UWA, Perth
Ed Robertson, St. Andrews
Akos Seress, OSU, Columbus, Ohio
Charles Wright, U. of Oregon.

Their full addresses and e-mail addresses will be given in an appendix.

2. Refereeing GAP contributions.

We are planning to introduce a more formal procedure of acceptance of
external contributions to GAP. This will in some way resemble the
procedure of accepting a paper for publication in a periodical and
will in a similar way serve the double purpose of maintaining the
quality of contributions to the GAP system and at the same time giving
the author a more official recognition of her or his work that may
eventually allow quotation of such a contribution in her or his
publication list. The necessity of such a formal procedure for both
reasons has been emphazised by various people several times in private
communications and I have at least touched upon this point at the end
of my lecture 'An invitation to Computational Group Theory' in Galway
which is printed in the Proceedings of that meeting (C. M. Campbell
et al., editors, Groups'93, Galway/St.Andrews, Cambridge UP 1995)

As done up to now with quite a few programs and other GAP related
material, a contribution offered to GAP is most welcome to be just
deposited in the 'incoming' file. Such material will (as in the past)
not be reviewed in any way, and will remain totally under its author's
responsibility. This will then resemble the distribution of
preprints, for which the 'incoming' file just provides some help with
the distribution.

However a contribution to GAP may in two ways become an official
part of GAP:

- it can become part of the main GAP library . In such case the
author's name will be joined to the list of the authors of GAP that
now occurs with the GAP banner. What exactly was written by the
author will be documented in the respective files of the GAP library.
Further responsibility for explanations, bug fixes, modification etc
will be with the GAP team which of course will hope for and most
gratefully accept help by the respective author with such tasks.

- it can become a share package. This means that the package will not
become a part of the main GAP library, but will be distributed
together with GAP under the author's name (like e.g. GRAPE or the ANU
pQ). The responsibility for bug fixes, explanations, updates etc will
remain with the author.

These last two categories will then be reached by a formal procedure
of acceptance, which, again as with published papers, will involve
reviewing of the contribution and might involve a process of improving
the contribution following suggestions and help from an editor.

The GAP Council will function as the editorial board for this
procedure and work exactly as an editorial board of a periodical. For
the time until GAP Headquarters move to St. Andrews, I will serve as
the central clearance agency for the board, afterwards this role will
be taken over by the team in St. Andrews. Contributions submitted
for acceptance either to the main GAP library or as a share package
can be sent directly to me or to one of the members of the GAP
Council, wo will then contact me. One of the Council members will be
the editor for this contribution and may employ referees to help her
or him with this task. Referees and editor should evaluate both
mathematical relevance and technical soundness of the contribution and
completeness and adequacy of the documentation. They might suggest or
demand improvements or changes before a decision on acceptance.

Contributions sent in to be included as part of the main GAP library
or as a share package then (again as with papers submitted for
publication) could be in one of the three states; 'submitted',
'accepted', or 'released', while contributions to 'incoming' would
always just have the state 'deposited'.

We have to admit, that we have no experience with such a procedure and
in fact to the best of our knowledge we seem to explore unknown
territory with the attempt to set up such a system of software
reviewing. However in line with our strong conviction that
contributions of mathematical algorithms in the form of software
should be regarded and hence treated as contributions to mathematics
just like papers with theorems and proofs, we think that it is worth a
try. In fact we have already with their authors' very positive
consent started such a refereeing procedure for three contributions
that are meant to eventually become share packages.

I hope that we will get more such offers from some of you. We intend
to give advice with the writing of larger packages of GAP software in
a workshop. I will come back to this and some other plans in sections
4. and 5. of this long letter.

3. The GAP Support Group.

All of you, reading the GAP-forum, and those of you having been in
correspondence with 'gap-trouble' know a number of names of helpful
souls who rather regularly try to answer questions, suggest bug fixes
etc. Most of these belong to the 'GAP Support Group' which in our
opinion provides an important service to the community of users of
GAP. I therefore want to take this opportunity to introduce its
present members to you. Of course membership in this Support Group
will change over the time and we will inform you from time to time
about such changes. Please understand however that also in the future
you should direct your letters to the addresses gap-trouble and
gap-forum, not to the individual members of the Support Group. So
here are the present members, of whom of course you know Martin
Schoenert as the main architect of the system and Steve Linton as the
person to follow him after the move of GAP to St. Andrews.

Thomas Breuer, Aachen,
Frank Celler, Aachen,
Bettina Eick, Aachen,
Volkmar Felsch, Aachen,
Alexander Hulpke, Aachen,
Steve Linton, St. Andrews,
Werner Nickel, Aachen -> St. Andrews,
Alice Niemeyer, Perth,
Martin Schoenert, Aachen,
Heiko Theissen, Aachen.

4. A workshop 'Writing GAP Packages'.

Following the suggestion of Jean Michel in the GAP forum, we plan a
workshop with the above title to be held in Aachen, which will likely
take place in the first week of September, 1996. This will be intended
for people who have already some experience with programming in GAP
and have plans to write a larger package, possibly introducing new
mathematical objects. We hope that for this workshop at least a
public beta-release of GAP 4 will be available so that indeed the new
features of GAP 4 will be an issue in this workshop. The workshop is
not meant for newcomers to GAP. We will soon issue a more detailed
announcement with the offer to register.

5. A 'European Summer of Computational Group Theory' in 1997.

As many of you know, the conference 'Groups St.Andrews 1997 at Bath'
will take place from 26, July to August 9, 1997 at the university of
Bath, England. Traditionally the 'Groups St.Andrews' meetings have a
strong component of Computational Group Theory.

Further from July 7 - 11, 1997 the 'British Combinatorial Conference'
will take place at QMW, London and this will have some emphasis on
computing in combinatorics, including the role of Leonard Soicher's
GRAPE package.

In addition it has very recently been decided that there will be a
third meeting on Computational Group Theory at the Mathematisches
Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach, Germany from June 1 - 7, 1997,
organised by Mike Newman and Herbert Pahlings. (As most of you will
know, the Groups St. Andrews meetings and the British Combinatorial
Conference are open to everybody, while Oberwolfach meetings are by
invitation only and have an upper bound for the number of

Following a suggestion from Herbert Pahlings, it is planned to use
these meetings as cornerstones of a 'European Summer of Computational
group theory' which in addition will feature a number of workshops in
several places in Europe. On of them will be a workshop introducing to
the 'Use of GAP in Research' to be held in St. Andrews, others will
probably deal with computational aspects of topics such as 'Lie
Algebras', 'Automatic Groups', 'Representation Theory', or 'Use of
Groups in the Classification of Chemical Compounds'. You should infer
from my rather vague formulation that all this is still very much in a
stage of planning. There will be more detailed announcements later on
in the GAP forum as well as elsewhere as soon as plans become more

We also plan to offer hospitality at various institutes in Europe
during that Summer in particular for overseas visitors who want to use
the time between some such events for visits to one of the several
places on this old continent that engage in Computational Group

Please do not ask me now individually for details, to answer such
questions individually at the present time would be beyond of what I
can do. However I promise to keep you informed through the GAP forum
about further developments.

Joachim Neubueser

Appendix: Address list of GAP Council members:


Professor Michael Atkinson\\
Department of Mathematical Sciences\\
University of St.Andrews\\
North Haugh\\
St. Andrews KY16 9SS, Scotland\\
e-mail: mda@dcs.st-and.ac.uk

Professor Andrea Caranti\\
Universit\`a Degli Studi Di Trento\\
Dipartimento di Matematica\\
I-38050 Povo (Trento) ITALY\\
e-mail: caranti@science.unitn.it (Andrea Caranti)\\

Professor Gene Cooperman\\
College of Computer Science, 161CN\\
Northeastern University\\
Boston, MA 02115, USA\\
e-mail: gene@ccs.neu.edu (Gene Cooperman)\\

Dr. Derek Holt\\
Mathematics Institute\\
University of Warwick\\
Coventry, CV4 7AL, U.K.\\
e-mail: dfh@maths.warwick.ac.uk\\

Dr. Steve Linton\\
Department of Mathematical Sciences\\
University of St Andrews\\
North Haugh\\
St Andrews KY16 9SS, SCOTLAND\\
e-mail: sal@dcs.st-and.ac.uk\\

Dr. Mike Newman\\
School of Mathematical Sciences\\
Australian National University\\
Canberra ACT 0200 AUSTRALIA\\
e-mail: newman@maths.anu.edu.au\\

Professor Herbert Pahlings\\
Lehrstuhl D f"ur Mathematik\\
RWTH Aachen\\
Templergraben 64\\
52062 Aachen, \\
e-mail: h.pahlings@math.rwth.aachen.de \\

Professor Cheryl Praeger\\
Department of Mathematics\\
University of Western Australia\\
Perth, WA 6907 Australia\\
e-mail: praeger@maths.uwa.edu.au (Cheryl Praeger)\\

Professor Edmund F. Robertson\\
Department of Mathematical Sciences\\
University of St Andrews\\
North Haugh\\
St Andrews KY16 9SS, SCOTLAND\\
e-mail: edmund@dcs.st-and.ac.uk (Edmund Robertson)\\

Professor Akos Seress\\
The Ohio State University\\
Department of Mathematics\\
231 W 18th Avenue\\
Columbus, OH 43210, USA\\
e-mail: akos@math.ohio-state.edu (Akos Seress)\\

Professor Charles R. B. Wright\\
Department of Mathematics\\
University of Oregon\\
Eugene, OR 97403, USA\\
e-mail: wright@bright.uoregon.edu (C.R.B. Wright)\\


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