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< Contents ERCIM News No. 54, July 2003

SCILAB Consortium launched

by Claude Gomez

Following the tremendous success of INRIA's Open Source Software for Numerical Computations, called SCILAB, a consortium has been created to guarantee the quality and perpetuation of the software and to promote Scilab as worldwide reference software in academia and industry.

SCILAB is a scientific software package developed by INRIA and ENPC (École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées). SCILAB is one of the numerical computing tools such as Matlab that totally revolutionized research and development in engineering some twenty years ago. It provides a powerful open computing environment for engineering and scientific applications. Distributed freely via the Internet since 1994, SCILAB is currently being used in educational and industrial environments around the world.

SCILAB includes hundreds of mathematical functions with the possibility to add interactively programs from various languages (C, FORTRAN, C++…). It has sophisticated data structures (including lists, polynomials, rational functions, linear systems…), an interpreter and a high level programming language. SCILAB has been conceived to be an open system where the user can define new data types and operations on these data types by using overloading mechanism.

A number of toolboxes are available with the system:

  • 2-D and 3-D graphics, animation
  • Linear algebra, sparse matrices
  • Polynomials and rational functions
  • Simulation: ODE solver (ODEPACK) and DAE solver (DASSL)
  • Scicos: block-diagram simulator for hybrid dynamic systems
  • Classic and robust control, LMI optimization
  • Differentiable and non-differentiable optimization
  • Signal processing
  • Metanet: graphs and networks
  • Parallel SCILAB using PVM
  • Statistics
  • Interface with Computer Algebra (Maple, MuPAD)
  • Interface with TCL/TK
  • a great number of contributions for various domains.

SCILAB works on most UNIX systems including Linux and on Windows 9X/NT/2000/XP. It comes with source code, on-line help and English user manuals. Binary versions are available.

Today there are more than 10,000 monthly downloads of SCILAB software from SCILAB web site. This success is mainly due to the fact that, by integrating numerous contributions, SCILAB offers tools pertaining to scientific computing (simulation, graphics, modelling, control, etc) that are not only of interest to teachers and researchers, but also increasingly of interest to persons who work in industrial sectors such as the automotive industry, aerospace, chemistry, finance, etc. Moreover, SCILAB is used all over the world. Books and articles already exist in French, English and Chinese. Workshops and lessons took place in India, Africa and China. Since 2002 an annual SCILAB contest is organized in China.

SCILAB Consortium
To face this success, INRIA proposed to create a Consortium to group academic and industrial members all over the world. The Consortium will guarantee the quality and perpetuation of the software and turn SCILAB into worldwide reference software in academia and industry. Members of the Consortium can contribute to the evolution of SCILAB based on new needs. A scientific committee and a steering committee composed of elected Consortium members will decide on the directions for new developments and play the role of SCILAB architect. The Consortium is hosted by INRIA.

The main objectives of SCILAB Consortium are:

  • to group the community of developers to turn SCILAB into a platform to integrate all scientific advances in scientific computations, simulation and automatic control. So SCILAB will be a privileged link between companies and new scientific trends and will rely on a large community of contributors.
  • to group the community of users to turn SCILAB into quality software for operational use as well in industry as in education and research.
  • to provide resources for a dedicated team for the development of SCILAB.

The dedicated team has already been created as a 'Development Project-Team' at INRIA-Rocquencourt. It is managed by the chief technical officer of the consortium and will be eventually composed of 14 members. In addition to the development of SCILAB, the team will promote SCILAB and animate and federate the community of contributors. INRIA committed to finance 5 people in the team.

On May 16, the SCILAB Consortium was launched with an initial meeting of its members under the chairmanship of Professor Alain Bensoussan, former chairman of INRIA, CNES and Council of ESA. The Consortium founding members are French companies and academics: AXS INGENIERIE, CEA, CNES, CRIL TECHNOLOGY, DASSAULT-AVIATION, EDF, ENPC, ESTEREL TECHNOLOGIES, INRIA, PSA Peugeot Citroën, RENAULT, and THALES. They firmly intend to increase the European and international visibility by attracting new members abroad.

Newsgroup: comp.soft-sys.math.scilab

Please contact:
Claude Gomez, Chief Technical Officer of Scilab Consortium, INRIA