> < ^ From:

^ Subject:

Dear GAP users,

today is my last day as employee at Lehrstuhl D f"ur Mathematik. Allow

me a few words first about GAP's and my common past and then about our

separate futures.

I have been working on GAP since 1985, literally since day 1. I am to a

fair extent responsible for GAP's current state, and most of my work in

those 11 years has been for GAP. I enjoyed this time a lot.

I enjoyed meeting and working with many great persons. Please forgive me

that I do not list them here, to keep this message acceptably short.

I also enjoyed developing, distributing, and maintaing a program system.

I enjoyed discussing with the other developers about where GAP should be

headed and how it should get there. I enjoyed designing the system and

implementing the designs. I enjoyed learning mathematical algorithms and

implementing them. I enjoyed turning the program into a distributable

system and getting it out of the door. I enjoyed your feedback (but I

did not enjoy fixing the bugs ;-). I enjoyed the discussions, the

private ones and the ones in the GAP forum.

All those years I could do this work and earn a living. For this I have

to thank foremost Prof. Joachim Neub"user, who offered me a position at

Lehrstuhl D and convinced the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to support

me.

Unfortunately continuing this work is not compatible with a usual

academic career. Put differently, the older I get the more difficult

it becomes to find money for me.

I will now take the things I learned in those years and use them to

start my own software business.

I wish it was possible for me to continue to develop mathematical

software. But there are reasons why this would not be a good idea.

First. I believe that mathematical software is best developed by

mathematicians for mathematicians. Such software should be treated

like other mathematical works, i.e., it should be distributed freely

and mathematicians should not have to pay to use it.

Second. It is difficult to earn money with mathematical software such as

GAP, because the number of potential users is relatively small and they

cannot spend large amounts of money on software.

Third. Those areas where there is a sufficiently large market are

already claimed by large companies such as Macsyma Inc., Waterloo Maple

Software, Wolfram Research, and NAG Inc. and I do not believe that I can

compete with them.

Instead I will develop networking software. This is a market whose users

have commercial interests, so they should and can pay for their software.

It is a large market, much much larger than the market for mathematical

software. It is a rapidly changing market, so there are enough niches

that are not already claimed by large software companies.

It is difficult for me to leave now, because I believe that GAP is in

a very exciting phase right now and that it has a very bright future

(I wish I was so certain about my own ;-).

All those years I was on a quest for a type system that would allow to

model algebra well. Time and again I have argued that object oriented

languages such as C++ are not powerful enough to model the complex

relationships in algebra. Scratchpad/Axiom is much better, but is has

its own share of problems. I believe the new type system in GAP 4 comes

closer than anything else (but of course I am biased ;-).

The move of GAP to St. Andrews means (among other things) that GAP will

become a system that will be developed and supported to a larger extent

by its users. This model of development has worked very well for other

systems (foremost for Linux), and I think it will work well for GAP.

Since I am still interested in GAP's future, I will not leave completely.

I will continue to read the GAP forum and (if my work leaves me a few

free minutes) participate. If the developers have problems with code

that I have written, I will certainly try to help them.

But I cannot guarantee how often I will come around to read my e-mail.

So, in your own interest, you should report all GAP related problems to

'GAP-Trouble@Math.RWTH-Aachen.DE' and not to me.

I hope you enjoyed the time with me as much as I enjoyed it,

Martin.

-- .- .-. - .. -. .-.. --- ...- . ... .- -. -. .. -.- .- Martin Sch"onert, Martin.Schoenert@Math.RWTH-Aachen.DE, +49 241 804551 Lehrstuhl D f"ur Mathematik, Templergraben 64, RWTH, 52056 Aachen, Germany

> < [top]