Welcome to Centaur

Francis Wright's personal web site

Photo of Francis Wright

This web site has taken over some of the content that was once served from Centaur at Queen Mary, University of London. Currently, this consists of GNU Emacs code, Maple code, details of my book Computing with Maple, various sets of lecture notes and a few research papers and presentations; see the links on the left. Some other information is available on my Queen Mary web site. You can contact me using the form on the contact / feedback page.

Francis Wright

Mini biography

I took A-levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry, followed by a degree in Natural Sciences (Theoretical Physics) at the University of Cambridge and a PhD in Theoretical Physics at the University of Bristol. I joined the Department of Applied Mathematics at Queen Mary as a Lecturer in 1979. I was a Reader in Mathematics from 1989 and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Mathematical Sciences from 2007 until I retired on 1 October 2017. My main interests are various aspects of computing, in particular algebraic computing and web technology. In my spare time I like to watch Formula-1 and Wimbledon on television!

centaur n.

a creature in Greek mythology with the head, arms, and torso of a man and the body and legs of a horse.

[Middle English via Latin centaurus from Greek kentauros, of unknown origin: the Greek name for a Thessalonian tribe of expert horsemen]

Definition from the Concise Oxford Dictionary Ninth Edition; graphic originally from www.astrology-numerology.com.

Current activities

I'm currently mainly working on GNU Emacs (the programmer's editor) and REDUCE (the computer algebra system).

I develop and maintain the REDUCE web site, which is a merged version of the web site created by Tony Hearn (the original author of REDUCE) around the turn of the millennium when REDUCE was a commercial product and the web site I created at SourceForge when REDUCE became Open Source in late 2008. Both the original URLs now provide access to the same merged site hosted at SourceForge. When I merged the two sites in mid 2017 I introduced the use of PHP, mainly to handle the navigation menu. I later introduced the use of the Bootstrap library to make the site responsive, but Bootstrap requires a lot of markup within the body of a web page, so to facilitate that I introduced the PHP-based template system Smarty. I also use the PHP-based SimplePie library to display a couple of SourceForge RSS feeds. I still need to make the main navigation menu properly responsive and improve the page headings.

I am slowly enhancing the support for editing REDUCE files and running REDUCE in Emacs (REDUCE IDE) that I originally wrote several decades ago.

My current focus is on porting REDUCE to run on Emacs Lisp. This requires an emulation layer to make Emacs Lisp behave like Standard Lisp, a user interface and a modified build system. So far, I can build a version of REDUCE 3.8 (which was the last commercial version) that runs several test files correctly. REDUCE requires support for arbitrary-precision integers which Emacs Lisp does not provide. I got quite a long was without "big integers" and using the GNU Emacs Calc package got me somewhat further, but I am currently trying to develop a better package that will support the big integers that REDUCE needs efficiently.