Approved by IFIP WG 2.5

16 July 2006



Aim and Scope of IFIP Working Group 2.5


The aim of Working Group 2.5 (WG 2.5) is to improve the quality of scientific computation by promoting the development and availability of sound numerical software.


Objectives within the scope of the WG 2.5 are:

1.      Environment.  The definition from a numerical standpoint of a set of hardware and software features for a computing system.

2.      Tools.  The development and improvement of programming languages and other tools for numerical computation.

3.      Algorithms.  The establishment of guidelines for the assessment of numerical algorithms and their implementations.

4.      Software.  The establishment of guidelines for the preparation, interoperability, verification, validation, documentation, distribution and maintenance of numerical software.

5.      Data.  The establishment of guidelines for the validation, documentation, preservation, and distribution of numerical data.

6.      Communication.  The exchange of information concerning numerical software and the determination of the needs of computer users.



As an arm of IFIP Technical Committee 2, Software: Theory and Practice, WG 2.5 is concerned with those aspects of software development, dissemination, and use that stem from the unique nature of numerical computation.  Such concerns arise primarily in computing applications, where the solution of problems that rely on applied mathematics and numerical computation provide a foundation.  Developers of numerical software share many goals with software developers in other domains, such as correctness, reliability, efficiency, usability, and maintainability.  However, the nature of mathematical algorithms and the details of their implementation on finite precision computational devices pose additional challenges in areas of accuracy, numerical error control, robustness, portability, and testing.  The goal of WG 2.5 is to focus attention on the unique challenges posed by the development of numerical software in order to yield continuing improvements in the quality of scientific computation.

Objectives in a variety of areas stem from this overall goal.

Environment.  The difficulty of producing efficient, stable, robust and portable numerical software is greatly influenced by the numerical properties of the underlying computer hardware, as well as the access to its facilities provided by low level system functions.  Thus, WG 2.5 seeks to influence the design of such hardware and software features with the aim of improving the environment for the production of high quality numerical software.

Tools.  The ease with which high quality numerical software can be produced is strongly influenced by the availability of software tools, such as language processors, code transformers, debuggers, source code control systems, error trackers, documentation systems, etc.  These tools should have capabilities that support the unique needs of numerical software developers.  For example, developing programming language features that support capabilities such as fine control of floating-point operations, complex arithmetic, array operations, and parallel computing is of particular concern to WG 2.5.

Algorithms.  Numerical algorithms are the foundation of numerical software. WG 2.5 seeks to characterize those properties of numerical algorithms that lead to implementations of highest quality, and to develop metrics, protocols and tools, for the comparison of implementations of numerical algorithms. 

Software.  Numerical software itself is the primary topic for WG 2.5.  Of particular concern are issues such as verification, reusability, interoperability, documentation, distribution and maintenance in the context of mathematical algorithms and floating-point arithmetic.  The establishment of guidelines, standards, and tools are primary means for improving the state-of-the-art in this area.

Data.  Numerical data is a critical concern for producers and users of numerical software.  Dealing with large volumes of such data, both as input and as output of software is becoming a difficult challenge.  As a result, application communities are establishing guidelines and standards for the validation, documentation, preservation, and exchange of mathematical data, both numeric and symbolic. WG 2.5 has a natural interest in establishing and promulgating the best practices for the management of fundamental mathematical data.

Communication.  WG 2.5 seeks to communicate issues, best practices, guidelines, and other information to developers and users of numerical software.  It also works to represent the interests of the numerical software community in standards development for hardware, languages, software, and related information exchange. This is achieved through a combination of meetings, workshops, conferences, technical documents, books, and web sites.  Of particular emphasis is the widespread promulgation of high quality numerical computation through international cooperation.