Issue 59, 21 December 2006

In this issue:


Top Story - Mike Dewar - New Chief Technical Officer NAG Group

We are very pleased to report that Dr Mike Dewar has been appointed as Chief Technical Officer, NAG Group, with effect from 1 November 2006. He replaces Steve Hague in that position, with Steve continuing as Chief Operating Officer, NAG Oxford.

As Chief Technical Officer, Mike will be responsible for setting technical strategies and implementing technical work programmes for the NAG Group of Companies. As part of this role, he manages NAG's Development Division, based in Oxford, which designs and implements the NAG family of products. He is also responsible for managing NAG's worldwide programme of technical collaboration, and maintains a watching brief on new and emerging technologies.

Mike joined NAG in 1994, originally to manage the development of the Axiom computer algebra system, and has since worked in a variety of areas within the company. In particular he has coordinated four major projects funded by the European Union: A Framework for Symbolic-Numeric Computation (FRISCO, 1996-1999), OpenMath (1997-2000), The OpenMath Thematic Network (2001-2004) and Mathematics On The Net (MONET, 2002-2004). A common thread running through all these activities is a desire to make mathematical computations accessible via the internet, and to automate and simplify the process of using mathematical software as much as possible. See http://www.nag.co.uk/about/mdewar.asp for more details.


Product Information - NAG Schools Excel Add-in (N-SEA) Release 2 beta test invitation

NAG is delighted to invite readers of NAGNews to become involved in the beta testing of N-SEA. The beta test product is Release 2, which is due for launch very soon and features extended functionality over Release 1. If you would like to learn more about the second release of N-SEA or take part in the beta testing of the product, please email us at mailto:nagnews@nag.co.uk.

An overview of Release 1 of N-SEA and the benefits it can bring to mathematical and statistical learning in schools and universities can be found on our website at http://www.nag.co.uk/n-sea/index.asp.


General Information - NAG and Multi-Core Architectures

Multi-core chips are now a mainstream reality. This is a major evolution for the industry. It is an evolution in the sense that existing codes should work seamlessly. However, many codes will not work faster, and some will even work slower than previously. In the linked paper, we offer answers to some key questions about the technology and describe how NAG plans to take advantage for the benefit of our users.

What is multi-core?

Put simply, more than one CPU on a chip. Currently dual-core is commonly available. That will advance to quad-core, eight-core and onwards over the next few years In effect this is an SMP (shared memory parallel) system on a chip. Some vendors already have around 100 cores on a chip in their labs. At some point, heterogeneous cores will arrive; for example 8 ‘standard’ cores, 4 FPGAs and 2 accelerators.

To read the entire paper please visit our website here: http://www.nag.co.uk/IndustryArticles/Multi_core.pdf


People News - NAG Honours Retiring Council Members

At the thirtieth Annual General Meeting of NAG Ltd, held on 15 December 2006 in Oxford, NAG colleagues paid tribute to the many years of distinguished service given by four individuals, all of whom have made very significant and lasting contributions to NAG.

Richard Field, David Hartley and Lawrie Schonfelder retired from the NAG Council of Management at the conclusion of AGM/30. All three became involved in NAG since the early 1970s. Richard was Chairman of the Council from 1997 to 2006, and David had that role from 1986 to 1997. As well as serving as a Council member since 1986, Lawrie had been a member of the Technical Policy Committee since its inception in 1984. Also honoured at the meeting was Peter Kemp, who stepped down from the Council in 2004. He too had served as a Council member for many years and had an active involvement in NAG since its earliest days.

At the meeting, Rob Meyer and Steve Hague, the executive directors, described the various ways in which these four individuals had played very important roles in the evolution of NAG as a highly distinctive organisation. The meeting gave a heartfelt vote of thanks to Richard, Peter, David and Lawrie, and later in the day, a dinner was held in their honour. A further report on AGM/30 will be given in the next issue of NAGNews.


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

With the NAG ethos still very much to the fore, the third decade of NAG (1996-2006) as a company has seen the organisation building on the success of the past two decades. This third decade has seen much upheaval in the world of scientific/technical/analytical computing, and as with all other organisations in the computing business, NAG has not been immune from those changes. The organisation has adapted to those changing times, and words such as “agility” and “flexibility” figure much more prominently in recent incarnations of business plans than they did in the past! The specifics of business, organisational and technical issues may be in some respects quite different to their counterparts in 1976, 1986 or even 1996, but the NAG of 2006 stands proudly and recognisably with the same values and aspirations that have characterised the organisation throughout those previous decades.

  • NAG involved in EU Fourth Framework projects, STABLE (visual statistics), DECISION (design optimization), OpenMath (mathematics e-publishing) and JULIUS (high performance problem solving)
  • New NAG product launches of:
    • The NAG SMP Library, Release 1 (world first)
    • NAGWare f95 Compiler, Release 1 (world first)
    • NAG Statistical Add-Ins for Excel, Release 1
    • NAG Data Mining Components, Release 1
  • NIKE uses IRIS Explorer to design hi-tech footwear
  • EU Fifth Framework commences with projects EUREDIT (data editing/cleansing), MONET (NET-based mathematics) and MKM (mathematical knowledge)
  • Powergen optimizes power plant performance with NAG software
  • NAG and AMD partnership formed with release of the co-developed AMD Core Math Library
  • In July 2004, Brian Ford retires as Director of NAG after over 30 years of service. President of NAG Inc, Rob Meyer, becomes CEO of the NAG Group and Steve Hague of NAG Ltd becomes COO of NAG Oxford and CTO of NAG Group.
  • NAG develops visualization component for the world's largest climate change experiment in 2005
  • Mark 21 of the Fortran Library released in September 2005
  • Mark 8 of the C Library released in January 2006
  • NAG Oxford awarded Investors in People standard in March 2006
  • Third major release (re-titled Mark 21) of the SMP Library released in May 2006

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 that 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 the next release of the libraries, NAG will expose this functionality from the DLLs; at present, 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
  • BETT - The Educational Technology Show - 10-13 January 2007, London
    Find us at Stand SW-140 at Olympia, where our technical experts will be on hand to bring you up to date with NAG's latest product developments, in particular, our newly launched product, NAG Schools Excel Add-In (N-SEA). N-SEA has been developed to increase the functionality of Microsoft Excel aiding the teaching of statistics in the classroom.
    For further information on N-SEA visit: http://www.nag.co.uk/n-sea/index.asp.
    More information on BETT can be found at: http://www.bettshow.com.

Product News - Maple NAG Connector Product

Stand by for exciting news about the new Maple NAG Connector Product launched to enhance Maple 10 with NAG functionality! After an extensive beta test activity, final preparations are being made for the general release of this significant new product, and we look forward to bringing you details in the next issue of NAGNews.


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 platform:

  • x86-32 Solaris Sun Studio 11 C

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

  • Sun SPARC Solaris gcc 3.4.2

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