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Submission + - Sage wins Award for Free Mathematical Software

Ponca City, We Love You writes: "Since 2003, Cetril has organised the Trophées du Libre contest to reward innovative free software and this year Sage won first place in the Scientific Software category. Sage faced initial skepticism from the mathematics and education communities. "I've had a surprisingly large number of people tell me that something like Sage couldn't be done — that it just wasn't possible," said William Stein, lead developer of the tool. "I'm hearing that less now." The big commercial programs — Matlab, Maple, Mathematica and Magma — charge license fees. The Mathematica Web page, for example, charges $2,495 for a regular license. But the frustrations aren't only financial. Commercial programs don't always reveal how the calculations are performed. This means that other mathematicians can't scrutinize the code to see how a computer-based calculation arrived at a result. "Not being able to check the code of a computer-based calculation is like not publishing proofs for a mathematical theorem," Stein said. "It's ludicrous.""
The Courts

Submission + - RIAA ordered to divulge expenses-per-download

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: "The Court has ordered UMG Recordings, Warner Bros. Records, Interscope Records, Motown, and SONY BMG to disclose their expenses-per-download to the defendant's lawyers, in UMG v. Lindor, a case pending in Brooklyn. The Court held that the expense figures are relevant to the issue of whether the RIAA's attempt to recover damages of $750 or more per 99-cent song file, is an unconstitutional violation of due process."

Submission + - A supercomputer to design better plants?

Roland Piquepaille writes: "Is it possible to create more productive crops than nature does without growing hybrids or genetically modified plants? According to researchers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), the answer is yes . They've simulated photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert light to energy, with the help of supercomputers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Their models suggest that soybean productivity could be increased by 40 to 60 percent. They're also working with wheat and rice and expect that biotechnology companies will use this research to design more productive plants without altering their genes. But read more for additional details and to see how the researchers calibrated their supercomputing model."

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