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August 01, 2014 – Session Information services for mathematical software, models, and research data at ACA-2016 in Kassel, Germany

Homepage of the session.


  • Hans-Gert Gräbe, University of Leipzig, Germany
  • Albert Heinle, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Wolfram Sperber, FIZ Karlsruhe, Germany


Today mathematical knowledge manifests itself in different form. Besides publications, new forms of mathematical knowledge especially mathematical software, mathematical models, and mathematical data are becoming more and more important. But the access to these resources and their re-use is limited. The absence of powerful strategies and information services is one reason. The session Information services for mathematical software, models, and research data will address some problems of information services for these types of mathematical knowledge.

The aim of the session is to present and discuss some relevant problems and developments for the management and the presentation of information about mathematical software, models, and research data

(a) metadata standards for information services, e.g. citation standards
(b) state of the art of portals and repositories
(c) quality control of mathematical software
(d) management of research data in mathematics
(e) content analysis and semantification especially with respect to their relevance for computer algebra.


See the Homepage of the session for abstracts of the talks.

  • Information services for mathematical research data. Wolfram Sperber (FIZ Karlsruhe, zbMATH, Germany) -> Slides
  • The swMATH service for mathematical software - state of the art and perspectives. Hagen Chrapary (FIZ Karlsruhe, zbMATH and ZIB Berlin, Germany), Winfried Neun (ZIB Berlin, Germany) -> Slides
  • The SymbolicData project – a community driven project for the CA community. Hans-Gert Gräbe (University of Leipzig, Germany) -> Slides, Events.2016-08.Graebe
  • Benchmarks for and quality evaluation of CAS. Albert Heinle (University of Waterloo, Canada) -> Slides
  • Round table discussion on the future of information infrastructure for the CA community.

Round Table Discussion

For the round table discussion the session organizers prepared a list of questions:

1. How do we envision the research infrastructure in computer algebra ten years from now? What's going on just now?

2. Where will the resources for the computer algebra research infrastructure come from?

  • Do we have the resources to build up a new infrastructure for our community?
  • What are our strategic partners?
  • What's going on in other communities?

3. Are we currently asking the right questions?

  • Are our dreams realistic resp. compatible with the progress on research infrastructure?

4. Are we offering what we need, and do we need what we offer?

  • ... and offering we our information in good way, e.g. citations of CAS?
  • What's about established models, techniques and protocols, in particular the Sematic Web Stack?
  • What edges does our vertex have on the Linked Open Data Cloud?

5. How can we create a synergy between the efforts of the German Fachgruppe and SIGSAM? More generally, how do we assist and improve communication between different yet similar groups?

Some notes about the discussion

Participants of the round table:

Wolfram Sperber, some general notes about the discussion:

  • The session has discussed some problems of a e-infrastructure in Symbolic Computation, especially information services.
  • An enhanced e-infrastructure is an important prerequisite for research.
  • A consistently designed E-infrastucture could help to search, reproduce, evaluate, and reuse research data (including but not restricted to publications).
  • The Symbolic Computation community has a natural interest in such an enhanced e-infrastructure.
    • The boards of SIGSAM and the German CA Fachgruppe will actively promote the discussion and support prototypical implementations of parts of such a e-infrastructure.
  • The development of a powerful e-infrastructure requires the integration of information experts and information providers.
  • Research data are created and provided both by academic communities and information providers (software companies, Google ...).
  • There is not yet a commonly agreed definition of "research data" in Symbolic Computation. It cannot be reduced to information about CAS systems only as provided by swmath. There are also libraries, services, software versions, but also data about people, events, etc.
    • A useful information model, even a particular one, should be discussed and agreed upon by interested parties.
  • The e-infrastructure for Symbolic Computation must integrate information about all available resources in a flexible way.
  • The e-infrastructure for Symbolic Computation must be organized in a decentralized flexible way, combining and interlinking already existing infrastructures of the different CA subcommunities. Linked open data is a meanwhile widely used approach and concept to develop and interlink such infrastructures.
  • The existing information services are not sufficient and overlapping in scope.
  • Research data are dynamic. It requires to develop machine-based methods to handle and maintain this data within different information services.
  • Structures and standards of research data are yet missing.
    • Up to now there exists no proper citation standard for software (and research data in general).
    • Similar to the DOI system for publications unique resource identifiers for research data in Symbolic Computation are required to manage sustainable access and maintenance of the data and metadata.
    • Standards for content analysis of research data are essential and must be developed.
  • The discussion is planned to be continued with a publication in the newsletters of SIGSAM and the German CA Fachgruppe.

Albert Heinle, some particular notes about perspectives of swmath:

  • The term "Software" should be extended to include also packages, scripts and libraries, and not just computer algebra systems.
  • We need a way to obtain data, and take care of different licensing models.
  • It would also be interesting to not only obtain some information about software, but also where it is used and how.
  • People need to be made aware that there is a form on swMath, where developers can describe their software package.
  • We need some sort of unique identifier for systems we know (like DOI, but for software).
  • Within the discussion we asked Maple to make their "?author" information accessible. They said that they will think about it.
    • Maple packages are described within the "?offer" command.
  • What incentives can we put out to encourage people to participate in information resource systems?