June 27, 2008
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is offering a glimpse of—and asking for reviews of—its long-planned Digital Library of Mathematical Functions (DLMF). The new database will update Abramowitz and Stegun's Handbook of Mathematical Functions with Formulas, Graphs, and Mathematical Tables (1964). The handbook has been one of the most cited works in the mathematical literature.
The DLMF will be a 36-chapter reference on special functions of applied mathematics, from Airy to Zeta, doubling the number of formulas found in the 1964 handbook. The functions occur in mathematical modeling of physical phenomena, from atomic physics and optics to water waves, and have found applications in such areas as cryptography and signal analysis. The completed DLMF will offer definitions, ways to represent the functions mathematically, illustrations of how the functions behave with extreme values, and relationships among functions.
The DLMF will make use of advanced communications and computational resources to present downloadable mathematical data, interactive graphs, tables of numerical values, and math-aware searches. Visual aids will offer qualitative information on the behavior of mathematical functions, including Web-based tools for rotating and zooming in on three-dimensional representations.
In providing an online preview of five chapters, NIST is asking mathematicians for feedback. NIST hopes to finish the project in early 2009, when it will bring out a revised Handbook of Mathematical Functions—at 1,000 pages—and make the DLMF freely available online.
So take a look now and let the project's editors, Frank W.J. Olver, Daniel W. Lozier, Ronald F. Boisvert, and Charles W. Clark, know what you think.
Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology, June 24, 2008.