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From: Doug Gregor (dgregor_at_[hidden])
Date: 2004-11-08 13:33:30

On Nov 6, 2004, at 5:46 AM, Thorsten Ottosen wrote:

> Dear all,
> Following our discussion of the unicode library, would it not be a
> good idea
> to persue such efforts more aggresively?
> I could imagine it would help bring forward libraries much faster. I
> think it
> would be reasonable that
> the boost comunity provided
> 1. project descriptions

This is a good idea regardless of whether we are going to ask
universities to write some Boost libraries. We often discuss potential
libraries on the mailing list that never come into existence, but
someone picks up later on and would greatly benefit from a recount of
what was discussed in the form of a project description.

> 2. help and guidelines throughout the 6-12 months of the project

Again, this is useful for anyone bringing their first library up for
review. Granted, it's probably more important in the academic setting
(an outside contact person).

> If we had small papers explaining potential projects, these can be
> sent to
> universities which can the in turn
> suggest them to their students.
> Any thoughts?

Well, I have a few comments. The Graph library has benefited greatly
from student projects from Generic Programming classes at various
universities (the isomorphism, Floyd-Warshall, and A* search algorithms
are examples of this), so it can work. Additionally, several good
libraries have come from universities. So the work of students at
universities can be very good, of course.

On the other hand, the motivations of universities and especially
students writing thesis projects is very, very different from the
motivations of the average Boost developer. The emphasis is on
minimizing development time and writing papers about the result (new
algorithms, new data structures, etc.), not on creating and maintaining
high-quality software.

So, here is my intended point: Unless there is a shift in perception so
that creating and maintaining a Boost library (or software in general)
provides the same academic benefit (as a conference paper or journal
article would), the motivations of universities won't line up with the
motivations of the Boost community, so I don't see much benefit in
soliciting libraries. Smaller bits of functionality (graph or string
algorithms, for instance) might be better-suited for class projects,
although they would be too small for thesis projects. Interested
individuals, whether in academia or industry, will still be able to
find Boost regardless.


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