Boycott Numerical Recipes (2007)

The real problem is the Numerical Recipes license, which is extremely restrictive – probably more so than most users realize. I won’t dignify it with a link, but you can find licensing terms on their Website. NR routines are copyrighted (fine) and cannot be redistributed as source (annoying but not uncommon for COMMERCIAL software, somewhat…

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Boycott Numerical Recipes (2007)
Hello reader! Welcome, let's start-

The true pain is the Numerical Recipes license, which is
extremely restrictive – presumably extra so than most customers build.

I would possibly well possibly well no longer dignify it with a hyperlink, however you can acquire licensing phrases
on their online page. NR routines are copyrighted (aesthetic) and can’t
be redistributed as supply (traumatic however no longer ordinary for COMMERCIAL
utility, rather ordinary for scientific utility).
There’s no exception for noncommercial or scientific utilize,
which is Grinchy and traumatic, especially given
that two of the authors acknowledge funding from the NSF for
work on numerical options. Beyond that, the
single-CPU/single-veil phrases of their license are nearly
very no longer going for a working scientist to conform with, especially
in a networked atmosphere. Express you are going to fill a single legit NR license, after having
supplied it past the build of the book. You are allowed
to assemble programs on one laptop. You would possibly well additionally produce other
individuals lag the binary on other shows. You would possibly well additionally redistribute
the binary (as prolonged as it is a ways extremely no longer going to rextract the NR
library routines). You would possibly well possibly well redistribute your supply, without the
NR routine, so that
any individual with a legit NR license can recompile it towards their
library. (God will enable you to even as you happen to will fill a Fortran license they generally
fill a C license.) Virtually the entire lot else is illegitimate.
You would possibly well possibly well no longer assemble programs on every your desktop and your laptop laptop –

even even as you happen to merely are attempting to program at dwelling and be obvious the code
compiles accurately, no longer to lag it on the laptop laptop.
You would possibly well possibly well no longer fill your grad pupil work on the code, unless he or she
logs into your laptop to assemble it. If truth be told, if I elaborate the
NR single-veil license accurately, if your grad pupil “uses”
the utility in any formulation other than operating a binary, you are going to fill a
pain – even logging in remotely, compiling the utility
on the licensed laptop, and
viewing the output of the compilation on a distinct physical
veil violates the very best-veil license.
The identical goes if
you log in from your state laptop veil to assemble the code on
your workstation. You would possibly well possibly well no longer, clearly, take a look at-assemble code
on two various machines – what form you form in portray for you to operate
obvious your code compiles accurately below every Solaris and Linux?
Protect extra licenses, it appears to be like. You would possibly well possibly well no longer redistribute the availability, which is no longer so ordinary for
proprietary utility. But these are implementations of public
algorithms. Whenever you modify an NR routine so that it works
better, you can no longer acquire a intention to give it away since it be a by-product
work,
and your program will no longer assemble towards your
collaborator’s vanilla NR library. You is doubtless to be screwed. I assume you
would possibly well possibly well name Up your collaborator and verbalize the changes
over the phone. Or ship them a diff of the subroutine and hope
they patch it accurately – one hopes that a
a patch file doesn’t count as a by-product work, even though
of necessity it does own facets of the distinctive code.

These cases are so restrictive that clearly every person
breaks them, customarily without gleaming it. Thus, the NR license
makes itself a farce.
I purchase that firms with wide
compliance departments acquire extra anally restrictive about these items,
however if the NR authors admire to extract licensing costs from
firms, they also can form it while providing a extra liberal
non-earnings licensing policy. Hell, it is a ways candy commercial –
why form you trust you studied MS and Apple give massive academic reductions?
Like any honest correct crack seller, they are attempting to acquire the customers
bent early. The NR license makes RSI, the makers of IDL, my outdated licensing
bugaboo, see innocent by comparability. Now not no longer as much as RSI will promote
an N-user state license, so that as an instance most intriguing 5 individuals at
most can lag IDL concurrently in a 50-laptop department,
however you attach no longer fill to purchase 50 licenses. All of this would possibly well occasionally maybe well be stunning much no longer new if we had been talking about
Microsoft. But, there’s a purpose many scientists don’t utilize
Microsoft’s OS. More importantly, these restrictive licensing
cases lag counter to a tradition within the team of freely
sharing utility. Free sharing of recordsdata after publication is a
requirement in science (read the Astrophysical Journal policy
even as you happen to don’t mediate me). Algorithms and code will no longer be data,
however the tradition of sharing them helps the sciences to develop.
The web develop of the NR license on science is to discourage individuals
from helping others by sharing their work.
I in my realizing
fill a body of in fact helpful code that I are attempting to distribute, however haven’t
devoted the time to extracting it from the dying grip of the NR license,
because in a publish-or-perish world, I can’t elaborate spending the
time after I shall be writing a paper as an different. When this pain
furthermore bit a grad pupil I do know, I purchased aggravated and wrote this page. The NR authors, clearly, benefited from a long time of labor
by diversified numerical options and applied math researchers.
They re-applied the code (or claim to fill) so that they
bear the copyrights; I’m no longer minimizing the quantity of
work necessary to operate the NR compilation, however I ponder if every
single NR routine would finally arise as a non-by-product
work on a discontinuance reading. After getting worn an NR routine,
you furthermore mght can fill to tie yourself in knots to reimplement it
without being by-product. Can you copyright the coefficients
of an error-characteristic routine? There are conceivable picks. There are well identified scientific
libraries (LAPACK, LINPACK, etc).

You would possibly well possibly well utilize the GNU Scientific Library:

http://www.gnu.org/utility/gsl/

which is freed from encumbrances and clearly written as a minimum
partly essentially essentially essentially based on the NR license.

Sadly for cavepeople admire
me who infrequently program in Fortran while no longer hunting
woolly mammoths, the GSL is in C, however there are options round that.
Thanks to the NR authors for encouraging this duplication of effort. Numerical Recipes is a appropriate book for studying about numerical
options. As a subroutine library, it be a in fact helpful trap.

Meanwhile, I’m a hypocrite. I’ve restful bought code that
uses NR and haven’t reimplemented all of it but. That’s for
individuals with tenure. Or NSF grants. Like the authors of
Numerical Recipes. Benjamin Weiner

bjw at astro.umd.edu 

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