Brussels, 03 Jan 2003
A project consortium supported by funding of one million euro from the European Commission is aiming to revolutionise web-based mathematics in order to tackle wider issues such as climate change, infectious diseases and transport safety.
The two-year MONET project is funded through the IST section of the Fifth Framework Programme, and brings together partners from the UK, the Netherlands, France and Canada under the coordination of the Oxford-based Numerical Algorithms Group (NAG) Ltd.
The aim of the project is to develop a framework for the deployment of mathematical services on the Internet that can be located and used manually by human users or automatically by computers. In order to do this effectively, a standard set of detailed and searchable descriptions of the different types of services - known as ontologies - will have to be developed.
Dr Mike Dewar, Senior Technical Consultant at NAG Ltd, said: 'This new approach to building applications is hugely exciting but to be successful it has to be built on agreed standards. EU funding has helped us to build a community which is adding a European dimension to appropriate international standardisation activities in the Worldwide Web Consortium (WWC) and elsewhere.'
The project is split into three key work areas. The first is to gather user requirements with which to build the framework and carry out a detailed assessment of the available technologies with which to satisfy them. It is during this phase that the consortium hopes to develop new relationships with the appropriate international bodies such as the WWC.
The second element will be the development of ontologies and protocols to represent mathematical queries and services, describe the users of such services, and explain the solution process. These will constitute the language through which all the components of the MONET framework will communicate with one another.
Finally, the consortium will carry out an initial software implementation of the infrastructure needed to support the mathematical services. This infrastructure will be used to create two prototype services that will demonstrate that they can be used to solve a number of general mathematical problems.
It is hoped that ultimately, the work of the MONET consortium will lead to better tools for engineers and scientists who increasingly need access to sophisticated mathematical algorithms to tackle issues such as preventing climate change and building safer and more efficient aircraft. The MONET framework will guide such users, who are typically not mathematicians, towards the most appropriate and specialised algorithms for solving their problems.
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