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  • Introduction to NETLIB

    Dear Biomch-L subscribers,

    It has been a long time since NETLIB was mentioned on this list.
    Yesterday, I found this posting on Usenet (sci.math.num-analysis)
    with a good introduction to this collection of software.

    The NETLIB software, as far as I have used it, is of excellent
    quality. Documentation is good and, most importantly, everything
    is free. The software comes mostly as subroutines for basic
    mathematical operations, not as application programs for the end
    user. So, you need some programming skills and mathematical
    background to make good use of it.

    I have made extensive use of the routines LMDIF/LMDIF1 (from the
    MINPACK library) to solve non-linear least squares problems, and
    have been very satisfied with the performance.

    -- Ton van den Bogert
    Human Performance Laboratory
    University of Calgary, Canada
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    >From: (Frederick W. Chapman)
    >Newsgroups: sci.math.num-analysis
    >Subject: Introduction to NETLIB (Revised July 1992)
    >Date: 27 May 93 15:19:13 GMT
    >Organization: Lehigh University

    Introduction to NETLIB

    Frederick W. Chapman
    Senior User Consultant
    Lehigh University Computing Center

    July 7, 1992

    1. General Description

    NETLIB is a network-based facility for the automated
    distribution of the source code for public domain scientific
    software. Most of this software is written in FORTRAN, but some
    software is available in C, C++, and PASCAL. Software is
    available for a wide variety of applications. The following list
    -- which is far from exhaustive -- should give the reader an idea
    of the scope of the NETLIB collection.


    * Linear Algebra (eigenvalue and eigenvector computations,
    matrix factorizations, least squares)
    * Sparse Matrix Calculations
    * Numerical Optimization
    * Spline Interpolation
    * Ordinary and Partial Differential Equations
    * Fast Fourier Transforms
    * Special Functions


    * Collected algorithms of the ACM "Transactions on
    Mathematical Software" (TOMS)
    * LAPACK, LINPACK, EISPACK, and BLAS subroutine libraries
    * AMS TeX and SIAM typesetting macros
    * MATLAB applications packages


    * Libraries for supporting parallel computation
    * Libraries for computation on vector-processor machines


    * Packages supporting multiple-precision floating-point arith-
    metic (e.g., Brent's MP; Smith's FM, from TOMS algorithms)
    * Benchmark programs for comparing computing platforms
    * Collections of problems for testing numerical software
    * Programming aids such as single-precision-to-double-
    precision and FORTRAN-to-C conversion utilities
    * Companion software to various textbooks (e.g., Cheney and
    Kincaid; Forsythe, Malcolm, and Moler)
    * Bibliographies

    2. NETLIB Mail Servers

    Information (such as NETLIB usage instructions) and software
    (such a routine from LAPACK or an algorithm from the ACM TOMS)
    can be obtained by sending requests -- via electronic mail -- to
    a NETLIB mail server at one of the following Internet addresses: (AT&T Bell Labs, New Jersey, USA) (Oak Ridge Nat. Lab, Tenn., USA) (Univ. of Kent, UK) (Oslo, Norway) (U. of Wollongong, NSW, Australia)

    Upon receipt of an appropriately worded request, the NETLIB
    mail server responds by sending the information or software
    requested to the electronic mail address of the requestor.
    Depending on your location, the amount of network traffic, and
    other factors, you may actually receive a reply within minutes of
    submitting your request! Note that the software available may
    differ slightly from one NETLIB site to another.

    3. Accessing NETLIB via Electronic Mail

    To obtain more detailed instructions on the use of NETLIB,
    as well as an index of the software currently available from a
    particular NETLIB site, send an electronic mail (e-mail) message
    containing the line

    send index

    to a NETLIB mail server listed in Section 2 (usually the site
    which is geographically closest).

    The collected algorithms of the ACM journal, "Transactions
    on Mathematical Software" (TOMS), constitute a particularly
    worthwhile part of the NETLIB collection. To obtain an index to
    the ACM TOMS algorithms available from NETLIB, include the
    following line in your e-mail message to a NETLIB mail server:

    send index from toms

    Many of the NETLIB packages make use of a collection of
    routines referred to as the CORE library, which contains routines
    for determining machine-dependent constants (e.g., the machine
    epsilon), and a set of Level 1, 2, and 3 Basic Linear Algebra
    Subprograms (BLAS). To obtain an index to the CORE library,
    include this line in your e-mail message:

    send index from core

    Note that some mail trailers may "confuse" the NETLIB mail
    servers. If you encounter problems, you might consider
    suppressing the use of your usual signature file when sending
    requests to NETLIB via e-mail.

    4. Accessing NETLIB via FTP

    In addition to the standard e-mail method for accessing the
    NETLIB software, the AT&T Bell Laboratories site also provides
    access to the NETLIB software via FTP; simply run FTP locally and
    connect to the Internet node "", login with user-
    name "netlib" (in lowercase), and give anything as the password.
    The individual NETLIB libraries are arranged in separate subdi-
    rectories; for example, the ACM TOMS algorithms are stored in a
    subdirectory named "toms", and the CORE library is stored in a
    subdirectory named "cor" (*not* "core", oddly enough).

    Note that accessing NETLIB via FTP makes it easier to obtain
    *all* of the routines in a particular library, but requires a
    greater degree of sophistication on the part of the user; i.e.,
    the user must possess a certain amount of network and UNIX savvy,
    and a solid understanding of how the NETLIB collection is
    organized. Accessing NETLIB via e-mail rather than FTP is
    recommended for new users, since the NETLIB mail servers
    automatically resolve subroutine dependencies (which must
    otherwise be resolved manually).

    5. X-Windows Version of NETLIB

    In addition to the standard e-mail based NETLIB, the Oak
    Ridge National Laboratory site supports "XNETLIB" -- a new, X-
    Windows version of NETLIB. According to a recent announcement,
    "XNETLIB uses an X-Window graphical user interface and a socket-
    based connection between the user's machine and the XNETLIB
    server machine to process software requests". Of course, XNETLIB
    requires that the user's computer or terminal be capable of
    supporting X-Windows. The user will therefore need an engineering
    workstation that runs X-Windows, or an X-terminal, or a personal
    computer with X-terminal emulation software in order to take
    advantage of the benefits of XNETLIB.

    To obtain a copy of XNETLIB, send e-mail to the NETLIB mail
    server "" containing the lines

    mailsize 300k
    send xnetlib.shar from xnetlib

    Upon receiving the shar file via e-mail, save the message to a
    file (say, a file named "xnetlib.temp"), edit the file to remove
    the mail header, and then issue the UNIX commands

    sh xnetlib.temp
    sh xnetlib.shar

    After this, follow the instructions in the README file. Comments
    on XNETLIB should be directed via e-mail to "".


    o ------------------------------------------------------------------------- o
    | Frederick W. Chapman, User Services, Computing Center, Lehigh University |
    | Campus Phone: 8-3218 Preferred E-mail Address: fc03@Lehigh.Edu |
    o ------------------------------------------------------------------------- o
    | Ecstasy is transitory, but a theorem is forever! |
    o ------------------------------------------------------------------------- o