I think Sage gained a lot of publicity this year both by being at
the booth but also having an MAA panel discussion and an AMS session.
The panel discussion was good to be able to meet others in the
teaching community. I think this is related to Sage development because
projects like the educational open source software webworks has a
funding model which seems to be successful. I think Karl Crisman said he
would try to follow up on that.
A few people I met at the booth said they were interested in Sage development
but more stopped by saying that either they or their students could not afford
Maple or Mma and was looking into a cheaper quality alternative. The collaroration
possibilities of the Sage server was a strong “selling point” for smaller schools
which could load sage on a webserver.
There were some really good talks at the Sage session. For example,
Marshall’s talk had amazing graphics and Robert Miller’s talk was very well attended
(with maybe twice as many people in the audience as some of the others).
I thought the quality overall was great, but I’m very partial to such topics of course.
The general message I got from many was that more written material
on Sage in use would be welcomed, especially books. I was touched by one guy
who explained to me that his students were very poor (waitresses, for example)
who cannot afford calculus texts and commercial math programs. The point
he was implicitly making was that by offering software and documentation for
free we are actually improving the quality of such peoples’ lives in a real way.