At this point in time the state of there is no github for academia. I find it strange that before the ultimately collaborative pursuit of academic knowledge can be done there exists this formality of competing for cash. In contrast I like how the opensource community has become a self organizing system independent and driven by volunteerism.
Hope to see the day where academia is more like the opensource community and Sage Math Cloud becomes a platform to transform the competitive academic world into a collaborative and evolving opensource community of mathematical researchers.
I believe the hotspot for discussing academic pursits in math currently is http://polymathprojects.org/ as mentioned here https://terrytao.wordpress.com/category/question/polymath/
That is more like a blog or a forum site then per say a github for academia. So, where is the future of online collaborative academic research?
But here are certainly room for improvement above Blog Comments as a collaboration UI. Even a google spreadsheet would have been better.
The open source community is in the wonderful unique position of having been mostly built during a time of instant and limitless free communication, and uses a set of tools and practices which are very accessible and not nearly so entrenched.
When you think about it, the speed of change and adoption in the whole constellation of modern software development tools – web browsers, search engines, email, usenet/mailing lists, internet chat, debuggers, profilers, package management, build tools, virtualization, graphical diff, version control and DVCS, blogs, wikis, ticket trackers, Q&A sites, etc. etc. (not even to mention various dynamic language features, coroutines, better garbage collectors, JIT compilers, network APIs, &c.) – has been remarkable, and software development today looks very different than it did 30 years ago.
The speed of iteration and experiment in development of tools is so fast because the people building the tools and the people using them are a similar and heavily overlapping group, and because building new tools can be done relatively quickly and cheaply by small teams, and distribution and marketing of open source are cheap.
Tools for, say, CAD/CAM, architectural design, structural engineering, 3d animation, video editing, chemical reaction simulation, etc. are much slower to evolve, because they take more professional expertise to work on, cost more up front to build, and have a set of users who mostly are not qualified to build the tools themselves and tool builders who don’t necessarily do professional-level work with it. Instead of “build what you need”, there are two disjoint groups whose mottos could be “buy what you need” or “build what you can sell”.
To take the example of a field I’m familiar with, image editing/printing software (along the lines of Photoshop), there are at least 5 disjoint groups involved in any innovation: artists, technical authors, user interface designers, software engineers, and academic image processing researchers. New features are typically developed as a somewhat abstract mathematical model by academic researchers whose incentive is to publish papers with elegant theory, implemented by software engineers whose goals are mostly based around performance and raw function, fit into the existing interface by designers who are trying to match long-established conventions, explained by manual/book authors who want to sell books (which usually means listing recipes instead of explaining difficult abstractions), and then used by artists who usually end up with no clue what the feature does. Along the way product managers, marketing departments, and others also get involved. None of those groups necessarily has the cross-cutting expertise to really understand the needs of everyone up and down the stack, so new features tend to be shallow/gimmicky, mistargeted, poorly designed, poorly explained, and ultimately used haphazardly or ignored.
But I've also met many professors who simple trust commercial proprietary software simply because it is enterprise and therefore professional and reliable.
Also in this case I think Simon might feel more empathy towards the fellow business owner building a business around his expertise in mathematics...
"Buying a proprietary license for many researchers is better advertising for Simons name among those academics, then "funding an open source project" which is relatively more anonymous gift (unless SMC tries to sell trademark rights, creating "SMC by Simons" -- maybe a good idea).
To the author: the "Install LaTeX?" link at the top right is dead.
"I was frustrated watching how he treated the other participants, so I didn't say a word to him. I feel bad for failing to express myself."
If this is who you are, and I am similar, then you are not the right person to be "selling" sagemath. You need to find one of those lovely but vacuous motor-mouths to do this for you.
That's an odd way to describe people who effectively do their job of selling the product.
Over a million dollars to fund math software? Maybe, but not the demographic/popularity mix I would expect to see at KS. KS is for initial funding of a product that will be profitable at steady state. SMC is already launched, but needs more steady-state funding.
Prestige is the concentration of high quality research (as judged by peers) in one place.
I fail to see how making only some software available to US academics (which seems to be what you are suggesting), in any way enhances their prestige or capacity to influence science policy.
I wonder if NASA would get more funding from congress if we told them they were only allowed to use SAT-solvers in planning space missions.
But the notion that the Simons foundation is somehow trying to make software "selectively available", rather than just increase the availability of one particular piece of software they like, seems far-fetched to me.
The same case could be made for Sagemath of course.
A curious observation about most users: Most Users often prefer the good/service that works better / easier to use; even if closed; to the open source one that is perceived to be not as good. Many, many programmers / academics (those poor academics..) use mac laptops. They're nice.
Open Source is also great from securing long-term existence, and from a reproducibility, and hackability perspective. Pursuing a commercial open source model, if viable, could really address both short + long-term sustainability.
I truly don't think mathematics departments in the US are "too poor" to pay for software; there are nice offices, budgets for events, very expensive journals, etc. Many universities have massive endowments. It is just that they often choose to spend it elsewhere. I'd recommend charging a higher price to commercial entities and universities, charging students a small fee; and giving it for free to "3rd world", developing, etc. countries. Selling into the library budget, or IT budget, might not be the worst idea.
If your student has a cell phone, they can afford to pay 20 bucks a month for the cloud sage edition; instead of buying more booze, pizza, or another movie ticket. If they are not doing that; it either means they value some other service more highly; or they don't value their education & their time.
See also: tragedy of the commons, and free riders. People like not paying for things, regardless of quality.
The article only mentions academics from North America in this quote . Where did you find the information about "every academic institution in the world"?
As an academic in Europe I feel quite upset when an academic project is region-locked. Simons Foundation has lost quite a bit a respect from me for this. (My original respect for them was for their frequent posting of lectures on YouTube, which is something more institutions should do throughout the world.)
: "In the backroom during a coffee break, David Eisenbud told me that it had already been decided that they were going to just fund Magma by making it freely available to all academics in North America."
My sense of anti-chauvinism prevented me from registering the truth of the matter.
In fact the history of mathematical software shows precisely the opposite of what you claim. Companies go belly up and unless that mathematical software is open sourced, it dies completely. There are many examples of this. Sagemath in fact contains some code which came from a formerly commercial source (Maxima, formerly Macsyma), which was later open sourced.
You also miss that Magma is run by a group of academics at the University of Sydney, and there is real concern what will happen to it when the person running the project retires. Magma is not open source, and it is a very real risk that it will just die.
William Stein's understandable frustration is at the paucity of funding for a project as large as Sagemath, on which so many people are relying. He has written a series of blog posts over the last little while outlining his frustrations. It seems that his last post on the issue led to someone being "100% sure" the Simons foundation would write a cheque. William is demonstrating how very false that is. The assumption is that it should be easy to find a source of funding for such a large and important body of work. But counterintuitively, this has not proved to be the case.