Foundation Supports Access to Mathematical Software Package

Seeking to empower mathematics researchers, the Simons Foundation has underwritten the widespread availability of the software package Magma, making it available to investigators affiliated with institutions of higher learning in the U.S. Magma provides a mathematically rigorous environment for defining and working with structures found in algebra, number theory, algebraic geometry and algebraic combinatorics.

“Magma is a fabulous piece of mathematical software that has helped many mathematicians make discoveries and prove theorems,” says Anthony Várilly-Alvarado, assistant professor of mathematics at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

The foundation’s division of Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MPS) underwrites the distribution and maintenance costs associated with supplying the software to people employed by, studying at, or affiliated with U.S. non-profit and non-government educational or science research institutions.

“MPS strives to give researchers the tools they need to be more successful,” says Yuri Tschinkel, director of MPS. “As part of our mission, we provide support for research infrastructure, and Magma is part of that support.”

In addition to its work with Magma, the foundation supports arXiv, which provides open access to nearly one million e-prints in physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance and statistics online through the Cornell University library. By contributing up to $350,000 annually through a matching gift, MPS aims to ensure the long-term sustainability of this resource.

“While arXiv is freely available to mathematicians around the world, it costs money to maintain this service and permanent record,” says Várilly-Alvarado, who uses arXiv. “The cost is relatively low, but arXiv relies on the goodwill of many university libraries.”

The foundation hopes to continue promoting access to similar packages through its collaboration programming, such as the Simons Collaboration on the Many Electron Problem, and initiatives such as the Simons Center for Data Analysis.