Mathematics comes alive on new Web site

Mathematicians around the world have gained access to a Web-based resource developed at UBC with the support of Sun Microsystems Inc. The site will help them develop and publish software for use on the Internet, in course work and in research projects.

UBC's Mathematics Dept. has used the Java programming language to provide a comprehensive and easily accessible collection of tools and resources to teach, learn, promote and perform mathematics with computers. Living Mathematics is the name of the new Sun Software, Information and Technology Exchange (Sun SITE) location at UBC.

"Mathematics is well-suited to Internet publication, particularly with Java technology, because it is largely concerned with ideas rather than data," says UBC Mathematics Prof. Bill Casselman. "In addition, interactive graphics and animation will undoubtedly play a role in future mathematics education. Through this Sun SITE location, we hope to help the inevitable changes come a bit sooner."

Casselman developed the site in partnership with Mathematics PhD student Djun Kim, who is also the UBC Sun SITE systems manager.

A section of the site will be devoted to The Electronic Mathematician, an on-line electronic journal that will include papers with hypertext and graphics, tutorials on practical computer graphics for mathematicians, number theory and algebra algorithms explained interactively or with animation, and discussions on issues related to mathematics and computers.

"We're looking for content providers who can supply us with material that's high-quality, interesting and focused," says Kim. "There's little depth on the Web in mathematics compared to what it might be and we would like to do our part to remedy that."

The Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences (PIMS) has provided funding for the ongoing administration of the Sun SITE location under its mandate to promote mathematical research, education and industrial partnerships. PIMS was founded in 1996 by the community of mathematical scientists in Alberta and B.C. and is headquartered at UBC.

Hardware and software provided by Sun for the Living Mathematics Sun SITE program is part of a $135,000 donation which includes a server and storage devices, two workstations for software and courseware development, 10 JavaStation network computers for student labs, and Java WorkShop development software.

The Sun SITE initiative, established in 1992 by Sun, aims to provide easy global access to free software and tools, act as a repository for information, and launch new Internet-based applications. The UBC Sun SITE is one of more than 50 global interactive information repositories.

The UBC Sun SITE can be accessed on the World Wide Web through Sun's home page ( or directly at