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From robert burrell donkin <>
Subject Re: [math] matters of copyright
Date Mon, 02 Jun 2003 21:58:08 GMT
hi tim

let me begin by saying that i think you did the right thing and handled 
things pretty well.  i hope that brent will appreciate that commons-math 
is still just ramping up and we're probably going to have to discuss and 
sort things out a lot more during this stage.

there is a list which committers can post questions like this (licensing@a but i would suggest that we take a little time to formulate the 
right question. we would probably be better advised to have a general 
policy we can check (maybe using this specific as an example) rather than 
asking every time this question comes up. we can then make sure that 
developers understand and follow this policy.

what follows is all IMHO and with the usual disclaimer about me not being 
a lawyer.

i've taken a quick look at the reference (to numeric recipes) given and 
the intention seems pretty clear. the numeric recipes book is a manual for 
commercially licensed software. no derivative works of implementations 
found there can be be created without infringing their copyright. that is 
very clear.

i guess that providing anything about translations to other languages 
would be difficult but i still think that it's very dubious ethically to 
create ports from the code found in that book. i would not support the 
addition of any code ported from the code found there.

it seems to me that brent is assuring us that he went back to the 
mathematical basis of the algorithm and started from that. a clean 
implementation based on the mathematics should not infringe the copyright 
nor is it ethically dubious (providing that the correct credits for the 
original mathematics are provided if that's possible). what we need to 
think about is how we can demonstrate this to everybody's satisfaction. 
the openness of the ASF is one of it's great strengths and there should be 
some way we can show the right way to develop new implementations. (of 
course, we need to work out what that is first ;)

i believe that providing new implementation from the basic mathematics is 
what commons-math should do. there is no real reason why we should start 
from existing code. if we can't, then maybe that's a sign that we're 
moving away from our aims.

commons-maths needs to develop it's own niche somewhere between the 
academic and the commercial worlds. i'm very happy that people are talking 
to the ACM and COLT but any progress in those directions would IMHO 
probably mean thinking about something larger (maybe a 
subproject so that people could think about porting to other languages).

- robert

On Monday, June 2, 2003, at 07:30 PM, Tim O'Brien wrote:

> Brent, thanks for the detailed responses, and if it makes you feel any
> better my handwriting is much, much worse.
> I put a question out to people who can make more official statements
> about licensing, and I want to see if I can get an official opinion
> about some of these issues before re-adding and referencing
> NR.
> Also, I want to make it clear that I don't think anyone has violated
> copyright, I just want to tread carefully - best to err on the side of
> caution.
> Tim
> On Mon, 2003-06-02 at 13:12, wrote:
>>>> 2) regularizedGammaP is derived using (6.2.1) and (6.2.5) from NR.
>>> I also
>>>> have hand-written notes on how I derived the implementation from
>>> those
>>>> formulas that I would be happy to provide for your viewing.
>> Here are my aforementioned notes:
>> And before anyone says a thing, these are not the result of chicken
>> scratches.  Sadly, it is my handwritting.
>> Brent Worden
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