Issue 57, 28 September 2006

In this issue:


Top Story - NAG creates first numerical library for IBM Linux on Power

NAG is committed to expanding the availability of its numerical library to ensure that it can be used on systems typically applied to technical computing in both industry and academia alike. A recent implementation of the NAG Fortran Library heralded a world first for users of IBM Linux on Power http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/linux/power/.

This implementation of the Fortran Library is the first collection of mathematical and statistical routines available for Linux on Power. This implementation follows a long line of NAG software implementations for Linux users.

During the recent NAG user survey Linux followed very closely behind Windows as the preferred primary technical computing platform. The 64-bit Linux platform featured as the highest ‘future use planned’ platform among the respondents.

This user information reinforces the requirement of all NAG software to be available on Linux platforms. To find out more about NAG's software for Linux visit our website at http://www.nag.co.uk/linux.asp


User Story - Portfolios get daily tune-up with help of NAG components

Smartleaf - a US based company - develop software for financial organisations that manage individual investor accounts. Faced with the challenge of creating an analytical software system that allows for the efficient and highly customised management of thousands of portfolios, developers from Smartleaf turned to NAG to provide them with numerical components, in particular the routines from the Optimization chapter of the NAG Library.

The NAG optimisation routines utilized within Smartleaf Portfolio Manager help developers create a “trade-off engine” that replaces impractical and less effective rules-based approaches to portfolio management. The breadth, stability, and versatility of NAG components as well as NAG's first class technical support allowed Smartleaf to introduce next generation portfolio management into the marketplace without delay.

Mark Nitzberg, CTO of Smartleaf, said, ”Our relationship with NAG has been positive since the very beginning. Whenever our development team had questions, NAG's staff was quick to answer and provide us the support we needed. The documentation that NAG provides is excellent and well presented in layers of detail. NAG makes everything very available and easy-to-find.”

To read the case story in full please visit our website at http://www.nag.co.uk/bdu/partners/smartleaf/.


General Information - Three Decades of NAG Ltd - from 0 to 30 in a flurry of achievements!

The first decade of NAG as a company saw a successful transformation from a collaborative university-based activity, dependent on UK public funding during the 1970s, into a successful, financially-independent, trading company, operating worldwide with an impressive list of major academic, commercial and governmental clients within its growing customer base. Crucially, however, within this period of transformation, the NAG “ethos” - the unending quest for technical excellence, the in-grained belief in the value of collaboration - was strongly preserved. Examples of that ethos in action appear in the summary of the first decade of NAG given below: involvement in UK, European and trans-Atlantic collaborative projects, early advances in the development of High Performance Computing software, portable graphics software etc.

  • NAG Ltd incorporated on 18th March 1976 in order to meet growing demand beyond academia for access to NAG software
  • Formed as a not-for-profit company (a status that it still retains) to encourage spirit of collaboration to continue
  • NAG Inc established in 1978 to meet growing demand in North America
  • Because of pioneering experience in use of software tools, NAG coordinates US government-funded Toolpack project (1979-1982)
  • In 1980, NAG Ltd becomes financially self-supporting after the end of the ten-year period of grant support from the Computer Board
  • Another portability first ... the multi-platform, multi-package, NAG Graphics Library launched in 1982
  • Release of the first partially vectorized implementation of the NAG Fortran Library (Cray-1) in 1983
  • NAG Technical Policy Committee established and held first meeting in 1985
  • Pilot implementations in Ada project begins in 1985 funded by European Union (EU)
  • Fortran software tools project begins in 1984, funded by UK Alvey initiative
  • DIAMOND (accurate arithmetic) project begins in 1985, funded by EU ESPRIT II
  • GLIMPSE (statistical expert system) project begins in 1986, funded by UK SERC

The next issue of NAGNews will feature accolades from the second decade following incorporation.


NAG in the News - “Problem-solving pushes boundaries”

The following is an introduction to an article entitled “Problem-solving pushes boundaries” about NAG and its CEO, Rob Meyer. It was published in the April/May issue of Scientific Computing World.

It is well known that equations and algorithms used in rocket science are used in Wall Street, but that is not the only crossover between hard-core scientific computing and the commercial world. Scientific research progressed because researchers constantly come up with new ways to meet the challenges thrown up by their research goals.

The Numerical Algorithms Group was founded on the idea that what can solve a research problem for one scientist might solver another problem in a completely unrelated field. It has amassed a huge library of algorithmic software that sometimes is obtained from research or sometimes it develops itself. It has no shareholders, just members. While to a certain extent it has a public service mission, its prime mission is to produce software that solves the next generation of problems.

To read the article in its entirety please visit SCW's website at http://www.scientific-computing.com/scwaprmay06profile.html


General Information - NAG hosts 29th Technical Policy Meeting

In August 2006 NAG's Oxford office played host to a very distinguished and experienced group of NAG enthusiasts when NAG held a meeting of its Technical Policy Committee. A three-day schedule of plenary meetings and working group sessions was held to discern future software and hardware trends, industry and academic developments and NAG's current and planned product offerings.

The Technical Policy Committee was established in 1985 with the aim of augmenting the knowledge of NAG staff to help the company remain at the forefront of technical advances in terms of product research and development. It is made up of a number of esteemed professionals with whom we are immensely proud to be associated http://www.nag.co.uk/about/techadvisors.asp. From the very outset the committee, along with a wider circle of distinguished “Friends of NAG” experts, has helped to steer NAG into becoming a successful provider of numerical and visualization software. It also ensures that NAG's roots are firmly placed in the ethos of collaboration.

This year's meeting was considered a great success and we thank all those took part.


Tips & Hints - Windows Computing from Microsoft Office Suite

It is well known that the NAG DLL implementations provide an excellent source of algorithmic power to boost the functionality of the Microsoft Office suite. Previous articles have described how easy it is to use the libraries in this way. The DLL libraries are provided with examples of use within the Excel package and also the necessary interfacing software to VB and VBA.

Some users have asked why when they solve a problem within Excel using a NAG routine, slightly different answers are obtained when they repeat the same calculation immediately afterwards. The Intel chip can support 80-bit and 64-bit operation. The NAG libraries use the 64-bit operating mode because this is the default operation with the compilers used to form the DLLs. The first time a problem is solved this will be the mode of operation. The mode can be changed by setting the Floating Point Control Word and Excel does this to set the mode of working to 80-bit. In consequence the second time the problem is solved the NAG libraries will start the calculation in 80-bit mode.

For well-conditioned problems this is not serious and the NAG library routines will switch back to 64-bit working whenever it is essential for the correct working of an algorithm, but it can be disconcerting to see this behaviour. A solution is to set the Floating Point Control Word before each call to a NAG routine. At Mark 21 of the libraries NAG exposes this functionality from the DLLs using X03AAW and X03AAX; for earlier versions an external compiler function is required.

For more information on NAG's DLLs click here http://www.nag.co.uk/numeric/Num_DLLhelp.asp or email us at nagnews@nag.co.uk with any specific questions.


Events - UK & USA
  • Quant Congress Europe - 11-12 October 2006, London, UK
    NAG is delighted to be participating again this year at Quant Congress Europe which will provide a showcase of the latest developments in derivatives valuation, quantitative risk management, and analysis of trading and investment strategies. For further information on the event, visit: http://www.incisive-events.com/quanteurope/.

  • VBUG Conference - 17-18 October 2006, Microsoft Campus, Reading, UK
    VBUG is the UK's number one developer group for Microsoft Products, dedicated to supplying IT professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to keep up with constant change in development technology. Experts from NAG will be attending the annual VBUG Conference in October where they will be available to discuss NAG's products for Windows, including the .NET Library which is currently in development. For more information on this event visit http://www.vbug.net/conference/.

  • SC2006 - Supercomputing - 11-17 November 2006, Tampa, Florida, USA
    Join NAG once again this year at SC2006, the premier international conference on high performance computing, networking and the world's leading forum for exchanging ideas and accomplishments. Under the theme “Powerful Beyond Imagination” this conference will be held November 11-17, 2006, in Tampa, Florida. Visit NAG at booth 805. Learn more about the conference at http://www.sc06.supercomputing.org.

Product News - New Implementations

NAG is committed to offering new implementations of its broad range of numerical and statistical software, compilers and tools. Since the last edition of NAGNews, platform availability has increased as detailed below.

The NAG C Library, Mark 8 is now also available for the following platforms:

  • IBM Power 4+ AIX 32 bit using the xlc v7.0 Compiler
  • HP PA-RISC HP-UX using the HP C Compiler
  • Fujitsu PRIMEPOWER using the Fujitsu C Compiler

The NAGWare f95 Compiler, Release 5.1 is now also available for the following platform:

  • Apple Power Mac OS X

Managing your subscription

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to colleagues or to post it to your company's Intranet sites.

To subscribe, unsubscribe or learn more about managing your subscription, please see: http://www.nag.co.uk/NAGNews/index.asp.