A CD-ROM for Mathematics

Editors (details below)

Advisory board

This is the distributed www home page for the math CD-ROM.


Select your strongest source:

Orsay     Seattle     Brandeis    

[A Compact Disk design by M.C. Escher]

Call for Submissions

Dear Fellow Mathematicians,

We are editing a CD-ROM called MathCD, which is devoted chiefly to freely distributable material of interest to mathematicians. It is intended to become a CD-ROM series; the first CD-ROM is in the final stages of preparation and will be published in the coming months by a French non-profit organization.

CD-ROM technology is unrivaled for low-cost, high-volume distribution. For a unit cost of a few dollars, one can, by exploiting efficient formats, distribute a quantity of information that would fill several hundred books.

Compared with internet, the CD-ROM medium is faster, cheaper, and smaller. But at the same time it is less well understood; the editorial effort has been considerable. We are particularly solicitous to serve the many mathematicians who do not have excellent internet access. And we are, of course, borrowing heavily from the technology devellopped for Internet.

Our first priority has been to provide the electronic mathematics journals with a durable distribution medium to complement the volatile Internet.

Our second priority, one whose importance has grown apace, is to improve the organization and distribution of mathematical software produced by individual mathematicians.

Much space will be available for further material that will hopefully make this CD-ROM something of a mathematician's almanac and vademecum: various readers (viewers), choice pieces of the classical literature, monograph reprints, math memorabilia, math folklore, electronic graphics, programming tools, manuscript preparation tools, etc.

We solicit from our mathematical colleagues proposals of material to distribute on CD-ROM. He or she should, at the very least, put us in contact with the author, and indicate other qualified experts. We hope that many a proposal will be backed up by a useful review and/or arrangement of the material for the MathCD.

It is expected that authors will, in most cases, retain copyright and provide their own copyright notices within their contributions, while giving the editors specific permission for publication on the CD-ROM. Contributions exploitable in many computer environments will be preferred; but those specific to Linux, DOS, MSWindows or Macintosh will also be very acceptable. Commercial material and advertizing may be accepted under conditions to be negotiated, and the editors' intent here will be to reduce the price at which the CD-ROM can be distributed.

Please contact us at any time with suggestions. After the closure of each MathCD edition, submissions will immediately be welcomed for future editions.

Larry,   Chris,   Dick

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Participating electronic journals

So far, the following electronic journals have made their files available for publication on the Mathematics CD.

Complete index and abstracts of the following will be included in a form that will facilitate rapid delivery of articles by email or www.


Please give (e-)mail notification of each submission to at least one of the editors. Expect an acknowlegement within a few days, and send a reminder if necessary.

The substance of each submission should be in some electronic format and preferably ready for direct inclusion on the CD-ROM.

Where file archiving and compression are concerned, binary ZIP archives are the most acceptable. For material of interest to the unix OS only, the use of tar'ed-and-gzip'ed archives is acceptable. For material of interest to the Macintosh OS only, the following are acceptable: Stuffit archives (with extension .sit), and CompactPro archives (with extension .cpt).

We are able to handle submissions on IBM-PC and Macintosh diskettes.

For massive submissions, please try to use anonymous ftp (file transfer propocol) with logon   ftp   and password your account name immediately followed by   @.  The ftp address is at Orsay:


and its IP number is Use the ftp command "binary" to select binary rather than ascii transfer.

Congestion may force you to avoid using ftp during the working day for France and/or your own country.

Best submit a single zipped file that is an archived directory; for technical reasons, please do not create a new directory on the ftp server.

Distinguished contributions

Every major contributon to MathCD will earn for its author a concessionary author rate on the purchase of the CD.

Contributions which the editors recognize as having exceptional merit will progressively receive citations --- plus, as token of our admiration, a free copy of the CD. We are particularly sensitive to contributions realizing the potential of the CD-ROM medium for mathematics. See our nascent citation list.

Hilbert Competition

The challenge is to provide new translations (into languages beyond English and French) of Hilbert's famous radio address of September 1930, in which he described with brio the nature of mathematics. The prize for each translation judged original and meritorious will be a free copy of the CD-ROM. For details and conditions, see our Hilbert web page.

Galois Competition

A twin challenge is to provide translations of Evariste Galois' preface, circa 1830, on abstraction in mathematics and/or his letter on mathematical education. See our Galois web page.


Please return to this www page for news! In particular, for announcement of publication, and availability in your currency area. MathCD will have a list price of approximately $15 (US).

If you wish to be notified personally when MathCD becomes available, please just send an e-mail to one of the editors with the subject "Announce MathCD". In the body of the e-mail, you may optionally indicate other addresses, even for paper mail.

A commented list of the contents of each edition of MathCD will be posted from the day of publication.

Late breaking news

  • MathCD will almost certainly feature David Hilbert's unique recorded radio address, the object of the above translation competition. The sound files can be played on almost any recent microcomputer!

  • For each of the half dozen entries to the Hilbert and Galois translation competitions posted (see above links), a free copy of MathCD has been awarded. Both competitions remain open since major languages such as Japanese, Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, and Hebrew have yet to be flattered by translations!

  • Bulky files cause MathCD production delay: The bulk of many electronic mathematics journals has recently increased dramatically owing to addition of Adobe's bulky Portable Document Format format (=PDF) as an alternative to formats like DVI and PostScript. The driving force behind this inflation is "Acrobat Reader" a PDF viewer freely available for many platforms; besides excellent portability, it offers truly outstanding graphics and many other features irresistibly attractive to electronic journals.

    For its own purposes, the xxx.lanl.gov preprint archive has preempted such bulk problems by 'on-the-fly' derivation from TeX source of PDF format (and all others). Unfortunately, this radically effective xxx.lanl.gov solution seems inapplicable to MathCD for various technical reasons. Worse, for CD-ROM delivery, the bulk problem is far more acute than for delivery via internet; indeed a CD-ROM (capacious as it is) has easily an order of magnitude less storage capacity than a hard disk drive for a www server.

    Fortunately, an alternative solution has surfaced which is very suitable for CD-ROMs, namely derivation 'on-the-fly' of PDF format from DVI format. See a recent article of S. Lesenko and L. Siebenmann in dvi or html format for account of recent progress on this. In particular, a new viewing system called "AcroDVI" lets one directly view DVI files with Acrobat Reader. "AcroDVI" is currently available for 'alpha test'. Naturally, "AcroDVI" will be included on MathCD --- initially just for Windows 9X/NT. In coming years, this and similar systems will probably become essential for including huge numbers of pages of electronic math journals on CD-ROM, while offering top quality on all fronts: typography, graphics, hypertext, ...

    "AcroDVI" alpha-test package for Win32:  N.A.   Europe

    It is unfortunate that this bulk problem reached crisis proportions during the preparation of MathCD, thereby delaying CD publication. The editors offer MathCD contributors sincere apologies.

    Contents of this Web Page

    [--- last revised Jan. 2001]

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