Google Summer of Code 2010

This is the main organization page for the Google Summer of Code efforts of the Sage project.

Our proposal as a mentor organization was not accepted.


Sage is an open-source mathematical software system which combines numerous packages under one umbrella with the goal to provide an alternative to major proprietary mathematical software systems (aka the Ma*'s). The software included in Sage use many different languages such as C, C++, Fortran. However, the Sage library which provides a unified interface to these components besides implementions of novel mathematical algoritms is written in Python and Cython. Sage also includes a web-based user interface where worksheets are stored for each user.

With it's friendly development community and diverse challenges including

Sage provides projects that might appeal to contributors with different interests and skill levels.

If you're a student interested in working on any of the projects described below, note that these are mostly rough ideas. Feel free to ask questions or suggest other projects by writing to [email protected]. Here is the student application template we recommend students to use for their application.

If you're a Sage developer, please take some time to organize the list below and add more ideas. The notes section contains some guidelines from the GSOC FAQ. These projects should be doable with less than 3 months of full time work. Projects should generally have (copied from the KDE list):

Important Dates

Here is the original timeline. Some highlights:

Projects Ideas

All #numbers below refer to trac tickets.


The Sage notebook is an AJAX application similar to Google Documents that provides a user interface to mathematical software (not just Sage, also including Singular, GAP, Pari, Maxima, R, KASH etc.) somewhat like Mathematica notebooks. It was written from scratch (in Javascript and Python) by the Sage development team, and has been used daily by thousands of people over the last year. A number of universities have deployed Sage notebook servers for significant student use. See here for a list of Sage notebook servers. The notebook is one of the killer features of Sage.

This project is about improving the notebook. No special mathematical knowledge is required. Knowledge of Javascript, jQuery, Python, and general AJAX techniques is needed.

Authentication backend

The Sage notebook is used in many universities. Using the already existing user database and authentication facilities of the university for signing in to the Sage notebook is an often requested feature. There have been attempts to integrate LDAP and KERBEROS (#4309) authentication before.

Slideshow mode

This project would involve adding a slideshow mode to the Sage notebook. Since Sage worksheets run in any modern web browser and already support nice jsmath typesetting, TinyMCE text editing, and of course computation, an attractive and usable slideshow mode would be extremely useful for anyone giving a presentation that involves some kind of computing.

See #6342 for a previous attempt to implement this before the notebook became a separate component.

Potential mentor: William Stein

Export to something printable

Enhance export capabilities of Sage worksheets: create methods for well designed PDF, LaTeX (with or without SageTeX) or ODF output. This would be an inverse of sorts of Rob Beezer's tex2sws work, which takes TeX files and converts them into Sage worksheets.

Community tools

Related to enhanced publishing and export abilities, we would like the Sage notebook to have better community/social tools. Projects for this could involve:

Internationalization of the notebook

This project would involve changing the Sage notebook so that the user interface language can be translated and changed on the fly. This project will require knowledge of Python, Mercurial, and basic web coding; knowing the GNU gettext utilities, Javascript, and the Jinja web templating system will be helpful. No knowledge of (human!) languages other than English is necessary.

Currently, the user interface for the Sage notebook is all in English. Several one-off translations have been done (Korean; Russian) these translations involved going through source code and translating each string individually. The goal of the Sage project is to produce a viable alternative to Maple, Mathematica, Magma, and Matlab; having the user interface available in non-English languages would have a tremendous impact on that goal and vastly increase the number of people who can benefit from Sage.

Proper internationalization (i18n) involves wrapping each string in a function that looks up the correct translation, depending on the current language selected.

Deliverables for this project would include:

It would also be nice to work on support for more significant localization, perhaps using the Python Babel tools; this would include more thorough localization abilities, such as proper pluralization, thousands/decimal separators, ordinals, date and time display, and so on.

This project will not involve any actual translation, just making it possible for the Sage notebook UI to be localized. This is probably a medium-difficulty project, and will not require any specialized knowledge of mathematics or mathematical programming.

Potential mentor: DanDrake

Other ideas for the notebook

Here is a list of other possible improvements to the Sage notebook. Feel free to explore these ideas and make them into a proper project. The Sage tasks list also contains many other similar items. You can email the Sage notebook discussion group if you are interested in working on these.

Interfaces to/from Sage

Sage provides a unified interface to lots of different specialized mathematics software. This is all due to the various interfaces written by Sage developers. The sophistication level of these varies greatly, from passing messages on a text terminal and parsing results (see interpreter interfaces in the reference manual) to dynamically importing functions defined in an interpreted language from Singular and converting Sage types to Singular data structures on the fly (see libraries section of Sage-4.3.2 release tour).

Sage as a C library

Besides being a distribution of the best open source mathematical software, Sage is also a library for implementing mathematical structures and experimenting with new algorithms. At the moment, this library is only usable from Python. Since Python can be embedded in C/C++, it is possible to call any Sage function from other (mathematics) libraries/software. This is especially interesting since the capabilities of Sage is increasing very rapidly and it includes very efficient (if not the fastest) implementations of many basic algorithms (for example Hermite normal form).

Make it easier to call Sage from other applications. Example code here:

Potential mentor: Burcin Erocal


Potential mentor: William Stein

Google Wave robot

Portable C99 libm

Sage relies on a fairly complete C99 libm. In particular, it expects the "long double" and "complex" variants of most functions to be present. Not all these functions are present on Cygwin, FreeBSD or older Solaris, causing porting problems on those platforms. The objective of this task would be to either locate and port or write a libm that is sufficient to meet Sage's requirements.

One possible option would be to use glibc and only compile the libm bits. (Thought glibc is a bit dodgy on the precision side in some areas).

Another possible thing to look at is

Potential mentor: Peter Jeremy


As the symbolics backend, Pynac is a fundamental component of Sage. With some work and optimization, it could also be used for arithmetic with other mathematical structures like generic polynomial rings. It's based on a solid library GiNaC, which has great documentation and very readable code.

Skills: C++, (the necessary Cython and Python can be picked up easily)

Potential mentor: Burcin Erocal

Optimization / better data structures

This project would have two steps, the first would be a major optimization for Pynac also a good introduction to the library, coding conventions, type hierarchy, etc. The second would involve replacing the basic datatypes (vectors with heaps), lot's of timings and experiments to improve performance.

Pretty printing

Development Process

The Sage development process (detailed here) involves posting patches on our trac server, getting them reviewed, and then merged into our source code. Then the code is compiled and tested. Right now, many of these steps are done manually and could be automated and improved. Possible ideas for projects in this area would involve:


Sage is mostly "native" to Linux, OS X & Solaris. A Cygwin port is underway (it may be working by this summer). But porting to other systems is very useful, both to increase our potential user base, and to help eliminate bugs (see the section "Computational Technique; the Pentium Flaw" in this paper). This project would involve assisting our ports to the following platforms:

It could also involve improvements to the build system -- can we use the same system on different platforms, including Windows? Skills required: knowledge of porting software to new compilers and platforms.

Another idea in this vein would be setting up a Launchpad PPA for Sage. The Ubuntu packages for Sage are hopelessly out of date, and because of the large and heterogeneous nature of Sage, packaging for various Linux distributions is quite difficult. Having Ubuntu packages available would be very useful and possibly help us get Sage packaged for other distributions.

Potential mentor: Peter Jeremy, William Stein


Here are some other task lists:

Potential Mentors


We should take care to define deliverables for the items below. These should be doable with less than 3 months of work.

Here is what the FAQ says for "Ideas" lists:

And this is from the notes on organization selection criteria:

GSoC/2010 (last edited 2012-03-17 19:47:15 by schilly)