Prototype of Math Digital Library Released
January 1999

An early prototype of the NIST Digital Library of Mathematical
Functions (DLMF) has been released for public inspection and
comment. The DLMF is designed to be a complete and authoritative
online reference on the definition and properties of mathematical
functions which occur in applications. Examples include Bessel
functions, hypergeometric functions and various classes of
orthogonal polynomials. The DLMF, which will be freely available
via the World Wide Web, will contain more than 30 "chapters", each
centered on a class of functions, authored by recognized authorities.
The emphasis is on information that is useful in applications, as
well as on methods of computation. The online reference work will
contain many complex mathematical formulas which can be downloaded
into word processors and symbolic computing systems, graphics which
can be manipulated by users, as well as tables of relevant numerical
quantities, some of which will be computed on demand. Mathenabled
search facilities will guide users to relevant information, including
pointers to software which compute various functions.
The DLMF is inspired by the NBS Handbook of Mathematical Functions
(AMS 55, M. Abramowitz and I. Stegun, NBS, 1964) which has sold more
than 100,000 copies and remains popular today. The DLMF is expected
to contain more than twice as much technical information as AMS 55,
reflecting the continuing advances of the intervening 40 years,
while eliminating most of the numerical tables as unnecessary for
today's needs.
The DLMF is being developed by a team of researchers in ITL
and PL led by Daniel Lozier, Frank Olver, Charles Clark and
Ron Boisvert, with support from MEL's Systems Integration
for Manufacturing Applications (SIMA) program and the NIST
Standard Reference Data Program. The newly released prototype,
at http://math.nist.gov/DigitalMathLib/, is designed to show the
scope of the planned project. It contains a sample chapter on Airy
functions authored by F. Olver, and a sample chapter on applications
authored by C. Clark and D. Penn. These are designed to be used as
models for other authors. Pending external funding for the remaining
chapter authors the DLMF is planned to be completed in 2002.
