SIAM AG on Orthogonal Polynomials and Special Functions


Extract from OP-SF NET

Topic #6   ------------   OP-SF NET 4.5  ------------ September 15, 1997
From: Dan Lozier (
Subject: NIST Digital Library of Mathematical Functions

A major new World Wide Web site for special functions and their
applications is being planned at the National Institute of Standards and
Technology, provided adequate financial and other resources are secured. 
The new site will be called the NIST Digital Library of Mathematical
Functions.  See

for current information about the project.

NIST is the new name for the old National Bureau of Standards, and the
core component of the DLMF will be a thorough revision of Abramowitz and
Stegun, Handbook of Mathematical Functions (with Formulas, Graphs, and
Mathematical Tables), NBS Applied Mathematics Series 55, US Government
Printing Office, 1964.  The procedures used to generate and validate the
original handbook will be adapted and strengthened to ensure a successor
of the highest possible quality. 

The static content of the DLMF will be stored in a computer database at
NIST, accessible at the web site and by CD-ROM.  The ability will be
provided to copy formulas, graphs and numerical data into local computer
files in formats appropriate for subsequent word, numerical, symbolic and
graphical processing. 

Application components in technical fields where special functions are
important are a prominent part of the DLMF concept.  For example, such a
component could include sample problems and their solutions in terms of
special functions.  Basic mathematical information resident in the core
component will be extracted and adapted to the notation and definitional
conventions of the technical field.  Components for electromagnetism and
quantum physics are included in the NIST plan as prototypes for other
application components. 

A later stage of development is envisioned in which computational
services are provided by NIST on request from web users.  For example, a
user would be able to specify a set of numerical values for the arguments
and parameters of a special function, together with a minimum precision
requirement.  If the requisite computational resources are available
to the DLMF, then the corresponding set of function values would be
computed and delivered to the user.  Other potential services-on-demand
are preparation of graphs and computer algebraic processing. 

Recent events include:

-    The DLMF initiative was presented on July 14 at the
     SIAM Annual Meeting in the OPSF-sponsored Minisymposium
     on Handbooks for Special Functions and the  World  Wide
     Web. A corresponding NIST report will be available
     soon at the web site.

-    A workshop was held July 28-30 at NIST  to refine and
     develop the DLMF concept.  About a third of the 30 participants 
     were prominent researchers invited from outside NIST. 
     In addition to lectures, lively and useful discussions took  
     place on several general topics: approach to the project,
     organization of the project, funding possibilities, new chapter
     layout, roles and applications, and future phases.  A summary NIST
     report will be available soon at the web site.

The web site gives an e-mail address where comments can be sent on any
aspect of the project.  Also, any site visitor can subscribe to a mailing
list to receive occasional e-mail from NIST announcing significant new

Dan Lozier      
(U.S.) National Institute of Standards and Technology

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