Older blog entries for danf (starting at number 0)

4 Oct 2002 (updated 4 Oct 2002 at 04:33 UTC) »
An Encylopedia of Mathematics So I've been thinking more and more about an 'encyclopedia of mathematics' recently. It's been bouncing around in my head ever since I heard about Wikis, but now I'm actually going to start doing something about it.

The aim of such an encylopedia would be twofold. First it would be a quick and easy reference to any mathematical concepts which come up (saving lots of time for anyone who's learning or using mathematics which is new to them), and as a base upon which to build complete computer-verifiable (and also human-readable) proofs, run automated proof-checkers, proof generators and conjecture generators.

Sound useful?

By 'encyclopedia of maths' I mean a large system of objects, each representing a mathematical idea such as a definition, theorem, proof, or even an explaination or article. Each of these is linked to the objects representing the ideas upon which it relies (either explicitly or implicitly). An object might be an axiom, a defintion, a theory, a theorem, a conjecture or a proof.

For example, a theorem object would probably contain

  • a natural-language statement, with a reference to another object in the encylopedia for each technical term used.
  • references to any proofs which are in the encyclopedia
  • a machine-understandable statement of the result, again with references to every mathematical object involved.
  • parhaps a natural-language comment, including information such as the source of the theorem, papers it appears in, the subject(s) that it forms a part of (with references as always).

Another useful feature of such a system would be a thesaurus. Mathematical notation varies wildly across the sciences (try comparing notation for groups used by physicists and mathematictians), so a quick and painless way to translate from one language/notation to another and back would allow people to actually read material written by people from a different discipline.

There's actually been quite a lot of work done on most of the components which would be required for such a system. To try and encourage more people to take an interest in this sort of project I'm putting up a little website about it (with lots of juicy links): An Encyclopedia of Mathematics

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!