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      > < ^ Date: Fri, 30 Jun 1995 16:05:00 +0200
      > < ^ From: Joachim Neubueser <joachim.neubueser@math.rwth-aachen.de >
      > ^ Subject: GAP, 1997, me and all that

      Dear Forum members,

      Some weeks ago, many of you will have received a letter from three
      Australian colleagues, seeking support for a petition requesting the
      postponement of my retirement which is due on July 31, 1997. When I
      was informed of this motion some days after that letter had been sent
      out, this came as a complete surprise to me, the motion had not been
      discussed with me beforehand, let alone that I had asked for it.
      Meanwhile I have been told that such support has been offered by
      several colleagues and in the first place I want to thank these for
      their apparent appreciation of my attempts to further GAP.

      I have to report however that the initiative will not change the date
      of my retirement. In fact when the initiative was started the
      advertisement inviting applications for the professorship, that I hold
      at present, was already going into print

      The letter of the Australian colleagues certainly overrated my merits
      in the development of GAP, the names of the many (mostly young)
      colleagues and students who really did the work of creating GAP and
      its documentation are listed with the 'GAP banner' that you see when
      you call GAP on your computer and on the title page of the manual, and
      the names of those who contributed the various share packages are
      given with the description of these. I cannot deny however that it has
      been my role as chairman of Lehrstuhl D fuer Mathematik, RWTH Aachen,
      to provide the present environment for the development and maintenance
      of the central parts of GAP and for the service to the community of
      the GAP users.

      Therefore the initiative of the Australian colleagues may have left
      some of you wondering what will happen with GAP after my retirement,
      and in fact the initiative has made clear to me that a decision on
      this question has to be found soon. After careful consideration and
      discussion with various colleagues, I have come to the conclusion not
      to take the risk if my successor as chairman of Lehrstuhl D, who after
      all might get determined only short before my retirement, will be
      interested to further the development of GAP in a similar way as I
      have done. It seemed to be better and safer for GAP and the community
      of its users to hand the responsibility for GAP in time before my
      retirement to a group of colleagues who are both competent and willing
      to take over the work of the further development and maintenance of
      GAP.

      I am happy to announce that the colleagues at St. Andrews, Scotland,
      whom I approached with this request, are not only offering to take
      over but have indicated strong interest in this task. Let me briefly
      introduce them:

      As members of the GAP-forum you will know Dr. Steve Linton who already
      for a long time has frequently helped answering questions raised in
      the GAP-forum or GAP-trouble. Many of you will further know him
      through his research in CGT and through his contributions to GAP. In
      my opinion Steve probably knows GAP interna best among all people
      outside Aachen.

      Many of you will also know Professor Ed Robertson and Dr. Colin
      Campbell, not only by their work, e.g. in the area of algorithmic
      investigation of f.p. groups, but also as splendid organisers of the
      'Groups St. Andrews conferences'. Ed in addition for the past years
      has been the coordinator of an EC-sponsored 'Human Capital and
      Mobility' project on CGT that joins teams from 11 West European
      universities working in this field. Together with Dr. John O'Connor,
      who also works on CGT at St. Andrews, Ed has won the 'European
      Academic Software Award 1994' for the mathematics teaching system
      MacTutor.

      St. Andrews moreover enjoys a close cooperation of mathematics and
      computer science in a joint department. In fact Professor Ursula
      Martin and Professor Mike Atkinson, both professors of computer
      science in this department, the latter being its present head, both
      started as group theoreticians and continue to work in areas in which
      algebra and computer science meet. Many of you will know Mike as the
      editor of the 1982 Durham proceedings, still a must in CGT.

      I am most confident that GAP will continue to grow and to improve in
      the hands of the colleagues in St. Andrews.

      Let me briefly indicate the present state of the planning. As
      mentioned before in the Forum, the Aachen team is presently working on
      a version 4 of GAP, which, while being upward compatible again, will
      offer for instance much better facilities for the introduction of new
      algebraic structures, improvements of certain kernel functions etc. We
      hope that a first version (4.1) will become available during the first
      half of 1996 and a second version (4.2) with additions to the library,
      some of which are already under construction, may follow not so long
      after. We plan that these developments will still take place in
      Aachen. The final move of 'GAP headquarters' to St. Andrews may then
      happen in about 18 - 22 months from now. This gives us plenty of
      leeway to prepare for an absolutely smooth move, e.g. by frequent
      visits between St. Andrews and Aachen, for which the above-mentioned
      EC project provides both a fitting frame and financial support.

      Let me add that in discussions with several colleagues, some of which
      took place during the recent DIMACS meeting on CGT, we talked about
      still closer international cooperation in the development of GAP, in
      which other teams could increasingly bring in special expertise. As
      just one example let me mention that my colleague Prof. Herbert
      Pahlings in Lehrstuhl D will (of course) continue to support the
      representation theoretic parts of the GAP program and data library.
      However I want to leave it to the St. Andrews team to possibly set up
      a more formal structure for such enterprises. This may in fact be done
      as a first step in a gradual take-over.

      Let me finally state a point that is very important to me. The
      colleagues in St. Andrew completely agree with me that also in their
      hands GAP will remain a system that can be obtained free of charge and
      with completely open source of kernel, library and data. Also the
      present support of the community of GAP users by GAP-forum and
      GAP-trouble will be maintained.

      I hope that with this report I have been able to convince you that all
      is being done to make sure that my retirement will not have any
      negative effects on the further development of GAP, rather I hope that
      the new team will bring in fresh ideas. In line with policy that we
      have followed all the time you will be kept fully informed about all
      later steps taken in moving GAP to St. Andrews.

      Wishing you fun and success using GAP long beyond that date in 1997,

      Joachim Neubueser


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