Zentralblatt MATH и связанные с ним возможности доступа
к электронной информации по математике

Zentralblatt MATH and Related Gateways to Electronic Information in Mathematics

Zentralblatt MATH і пов’язані з ним можливості доступу
до електронної інформації з математики

Бернд Вегнер

Технический университет Берлина, Берлин, Германия

Bernd Wegner

Technical University Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Бернд Вегнер

Технічний університет Берліна, Берлін, Німеччина

Zentralblatt MATH — наиболее универсальная и традиционная база данных, содержащая информацию о публикациях в области математики. Благодаря многим дружественным пользователю средствам, связанным с поисковым меню версией на web, она обеспечивает большую инфраструктуру для исследовательской деятельности и образования в области математики и ее прикладных областей. Комбинированный доступ к Zentralblatt MATH и связанным с ней службам осуществляется через Европейскую математическую информационную службу EMIS, которая представляет собой форму кооперации в рамках Европейского математического общества (ЕМО).

В нее входят информационные базы данных по математической литературе, проекты универсальных магазинов на web, бесплатные цифровые базы содержания классических публикаций по математике, доступ к электронной серой литературе. Целью статьи является описание данных услуг и связанных с ними возможностей с главным акцентом на Zentralblatt MATH.

Zentralblatt MATH is the most comprehensive and traditional database providing information on publications in mathematics. With a variety of user friendly facilities, which are associated with the search menu of the web version, it provides a large infrastructure for research and education in mathematics and its applications. Combined access to Zentralblatt MATH and related services is given through the European Mathematical Information Service EMIS, which is a co-operation between several partners world-wide under the umbrella of the European Mathematical Society EMS. This includes other literature information databases, projects for one-stop shopping sites for mathematics in the web, freely available digital content of classical mathematical publications, and access to electronic grey literature. The aim of this article is to describe these offers and their links in detail with main emphasis on the Zentralblatt database.

Zentralblatt MATH — найбільш універсальна і традиційна база даних, що містить інформацію про публікації в галузі математики. Завдяки багатьом дружнім користувачеві засобам, пов’язаним з пошуковим меню версією на web, вона забезпечує велику інфраструктуру для дослідницької діяльності і освіти в галузі математики та її прикладних галузей. Комбінований доступ до Zentralblatt MATH і пов’язаних з нею служб здійснюється через Європейську математичну інформаційну службу EMIS, яка являє собою форму кооперації в рамках Європейського математичного товариства (ЄМТ).

До неї входять інформаційні бази даних з математичної літератури, проекти універсальних магазинів на web, безкоштовні цифрові бази змісту класичних публікацій з математики, доступ до електронної сірої літератури. Метою статті є опис даних послуг і пов’язаних з ними можливостей з головним акцентом на Zentralblatt MATH.

Keywords: mathematics portal, literature databases, mathematics on the web, integrated access, education in mathematics, digital archives.


0. Introduction

Databases with information on scientific literature emerged from the printed reviewing services with the rapid development of electronic devices for the publication of papers. Already the printed services were necessary to get an overview on the increasing production of scientific publications. But with the extended search facilities and the development of the web, providing convenient access a variety of possibilities for links, these databases became even more important as large infrastructures for research and education in science.

Zentralblatt MATH had been founded in 1931 and provided the first database service for mathematics, starting in 1978 as part of a network called STN. When mathematicians became more and more dependent on the internet for their mutual communication and information, Zentralblatt also installed a web service. This service has been enhanced permanently by links to other electronic offers and facilities to use it for integrating information from Zentralblatt in primary publications. In principle mathematicians and other researchers can access from their desk top everything needed from mathematics for their daily work. Even classical mathematical literature, which had been printed only initially and which remains of permanent interest in mathematics, has been digitised gradually through projects like ERAM (see [1] or [6]) and made accessible on-line.

As an extension of these offers, a lot of additional documents of interest for mathematicians appear in the web already like pre-prints, educational material in mathematics, software, graphical material and others. Information databases provide a qualified access to some of these offers, but for the whole set a uniform access facility with a high degree of de-duplication will be highly desirable. As an extension of Zentralblatt MATH the gateway provided by the EULER service via EMIS may provide one tool for this.

1. The Database Zentralblatt MATH

The connection to the database of Zentralblatt MATH via EMIS (see the URL http:\\www.emis.de\ZMATH) is the result of the increasing in volvement of the European Mathematical Society EMS in the edition of this reviewing service. In contrast to the variety of “databases” offered by commercial publishers now, the word “reviewing” is taken quite seriously and it is not “abstracting” only. Qualified and easily accessible evaluated information are the main aspects of Zentralblatt. The precision of the hit lists has to be considerably higher than what can be obtained by the common search engines in the web.

A lot of reviewers are employed for the reports on the mathematical literature. All reviewers work for Zentralblatt MATH more or less as volunteers. There are additional important aspects of quality which should be mentioned only briefly: comprehensiveness, precision of data, competent indexing, easy search menus, convenient linking with full texts and document delivery systems etc. All these aspects are important features for a reliable service, where quick and dirty offers cannot compete with, — though some of them pretend to have this quality, when their promotion is considered. Mathematics as a science, where the truths detected by mathematicians do not loose their validity with time passing by, needs such a precision to maintain control over the achievements in the past and to get a reliable information on what is new.

The title Zentralblatt MATH stands for several offers: the conventional printed reviewing service as well as for the two electronic offers, one on CD-ROM for off-line use and one as the database with online WWW-access. EMIS provides one link to the WWW-access, but for the world-wide distribution additional access has been arranged through mirrors of MATH in Strasbourg, New York, Ithaca (Cornell University), Berkeley (MSRI), Mexico City, Rehovot, Rio de Janeiro, Lecce, Moscow, Athens and Santiago de Compostela.

Clearly, the full use of the database only will be possible for subscribers, but it should be mentioned that there is a free component for using Zentralblatt MATH: Anybody can do searches in MATH. But non-subscribers only will get information on at most three hits from their list. These hits will be taken from the top of the list, where the most recent documents are listed. Hence, if the search leads to a small hit list only, then useful information can be obtained by everybody who has access to the Internet. Moreover, the installation of the mirror in Moscow is done by RFBR, and they obtained a license to give full access to all users from the Russian Federation within internal agreements. At present this access is for free, and it presumably will stay so in the next future.

Some quick details on Zentralblatt MATH: It provides enhanced bibliographic information on all mathematical literature, starting with 1931. It has been founded by Springer-Verlag (Berlin) as an alternative to the Jahrbuch ueber die Fortschritte der Mathematik (see below) which had a lot of delays with their reports at that time. Initially it had been edited by the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin, nowadays it is a joint enterprise of Springer-Verlag as the publisher and EMS, FIZ Karlsruhe and the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences as editors. The total number of documents for which information is stored in MATH is about 1.800.000. This increases by more than 70.000 documents annually at present. The update of the database is made every two weeks which corresponds to the production of the print version of Zentralblatt. The scope of publications handled by this service includes in addition to mathematics its applications in physics, mechanics, computer science, economics, statistics and biology.

Searches can be made using the following list of fields: authors, titles, classification (MSC 2000), basic index, source, language, year of publication etc. A search can be formulated in logical combinations of these terms. The search will be guided by a graphic menu. The information is available in the AMSTEX source code, but several choices for a convenient formula display are available. Download of the hit list at the users site is possible. Links to the full text of the corresponding article have been installed, if this is available electronically. Other options to get the full text of such an article consist of central document delivery services. Buttons to connect to such services and to see, if the corresponding article is available there, are installed in the menu for the search. Document delivery can be arranged by these services electronically or by sending copies by ordinary mail at reasonable rates.

2. Related Databases in EMIS

A variety of services related to Zentralblatt MATH is availabe in EMIS. As a companion database for education in mathematics MATHDI should be mentioned first. It is the online version of the printed service of Zentralblatt fuer Didaktik der Mathematik. All aspects of quality and search facilities are the same like for Zentralblatt MATH. The editors are the European Mathematical Society and FIZ Karlsruhe. It is supervised by an Editorial Committee. The contents of the database comprise 85.000 documents.

In contrast to these two charged databases, the pre-print index MPRESS is provided as a freely accessible service. It stores combined information on mathematics pre-prints available in the web. Pre-prints are an important facility for mathematicians to allow quick posting and communication of their results, in particular if an electronic version is made accessible on a server. Peer-reviewing and the publication of the final revised version of a paper are lengthy procedures in mathematics. The gathering of information for MPRESS is done by robots, which are run by national brokers for the harvesting of data. This procedure leads to a data structure which only allows for simple search facilities. MPRESS has no ambition to offer a pre-print server itself, only links to full texts are provided. The service is mainly supervised by IWI (Institut fuer Wissenschaftliche Information) in Osnabrueck. Countries which support the harvesting are Germany, France, Austria, and Italy. In addition to this some special servers are harvested by MPRESS. Among them are the Topology Atlas in Canada and the “arXive” in Los Alamos, but also the pre-print-server of the St. Petersburg branch of RAS is checked regularly.

As a new item the link to a free offer of a collection of high-quality geometric models and animations had been arranged. Each model is accompanied by a detailed explanation of its special features and its role in mathematics. Appropriate software enables the user to get different views and special insights and to interact with this structure. Hence each of the models could be considered as a publication of its own which has no counterpart in the printed media. It is a completely new way to confront the user with mathematical achievements. The current installation is a preliminary version, and it has to be investigated, how the data of these models could be stored in a convenient way, to make them accessible within the same menu as it is provided for searching mathematical articles. This collection demonstrates in a very convincing way the new possibilities emerging from electronic publishing.

3. Related Projects

There are three projects, which are more or less loosely related to Zentralblatt MATH. Two of them are funded by the European Union and one is funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. The first two are LIMES and EULER while the other one is the Jahrbuch-Project ERAM. The one closely related to Zentralblatt MATH is LIMES (Large Infrastructures in Mathematics — Enhanced Services).

The objective of the LIMES project is to upgrade the database Zentralblatt MATH into a European based world class database for mathematics and its applications by a process of technical improvement and wide Europeanisation. Upgrading the existing database, improving the present system and developing a new, distributed system both for the input and output of the data are necessary to allow Zentralblatt MATH to use the latest developments and to anticipate on future developments of electronic technologies.

Improvements will be made in three areas: 1) Improvement of content and retrieval facilities, 2) broader and improved access to the database via national access nodes and new data distribution methods (see also the report in [3]), 3) improved coverage and evaluation of research literature via nationally distributed editorial units, development of technologies for efficient database production. For the last two items initial steps had been undertaken in the recent past. For example, Zentralblatt MATH co-operates with editorial units in Novosibirsk, Kiew, Donetsk and Moscow.

The goal of the EULER project was to develop a prototype of an Internet service which integrates some of the most relevant publication-related electronic resources in the field of mathematics. This should provide a “one-stop-shopping” in heterogeneous resources for the user like OPACs, databases, pre-print servers, electronic journals and other WWW-catalogues. Tools have been developed facilitating the production of DC-metadata for the different resources. Using the Z39.50 protocol the so-called EULER-engine users of the EULER-system can carry out combined searches for mathematical information in all these resources.

The EULER-project terminated in September 2000. The engine has passed the beta-test successfully and the current beta-version has been proved to be installable at new service providers. During the exploitation period a model has been developed how to establish EULER as an Internet service. Within a smaller takeup-project the transition of the prototype to a permanent service is arranged now. The first goal is to establish a library and society based web service which includes a system of resources with a well-distributed European background. EULER stands for “EU”ropean “L”ibraries and “E”lectronic “R”esources in Mathematical Sciences. More details on the project can be found in [5] and [7].

The aim of the Jahrbuch-Project, which officially is called ERAM (Electronic Research Archive in Mathematics), is to capture the Jahrbuch ueber die Fortschritte der Mathematik as a classical bibliographic service in mathematics in a database and to use this activity to select important publications from the Jahrbuch period for digitisation and storage in a digital archive. Longevity is typical for research achievements in mathematics. Hence to improve the availability of the classical publications in mathematics and to enable to get quick information on these, electronic literature information services and digital archives of the complete texts are needed as important tools for the mathematical research in the future. This is the reason why so much efforts are invested in projects like ERAM.

The Jahrbuch was founded in 1868 as the first systematic and comprehensive documentation service in mathematics, published by de Gruyter (Berlin) and edited by the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin. See [2] for a report on the foundation of the Jahrbuch and the ideas behind its publication during the period at the beginning of the twentieth century. In [4] a short history of the Jahrbuch and Zentralblatt may be found. The publication of the Jahrbuch terminated during the Second World War and never started again. The Jahrbuch-database will not be just a copy of the printed bibliography. It will contain a lot of enhancements.

The digital archive built up in connection with the database will be linked to the database and provide all facilities associated with current digitisation projects. The content will be distributed to mirrors and combined with similar archiving activities in mathematics elsewhere. More detailed reports including also the archiving activities have been given in [6] and [1]. The project is in good progress. About 70% of the data have been captured, and more than 30% have been enhanced with the help of voluntary experts.



[1] Hans Becker, Bernd Wegner: ERAM — Digitisation of Classical Mathematical Publications, Proc. ECDL 2000, Lecture Notes in Computer Science 1923, 424-427 (2000).

[2] Emil Lampe: Das Jahrbuch ueber die Fortschritte der Mathematik. Rueckblick und Ausblick. Atti Congr. Int. di scienze storiche, Rom, Vol. XII, 97-104 (1903); digital version under http://www.emis.de/projects/JFM/.

[3] Enrique Macias Virgos, Bernd Wegner: Zentralblatt MATH, una gran infraestructura a disposicion de los matematicos espanyoles, La Gaceta de la Real Sociedad Matematica Espanyola Vol. 2, no. 3, 417-420 (1999).

[4] Bernd Wegner: Berlin as a Center for Organizing Mathematical Reviewing. http://www.zblmath.fiz-karlsruhe.de/zbl/berlin.pdf.

[5] Bernd Wegner: EULER — a DC-based Integrated Access to Library Catalogues and Other Mathematics Information in the Web. Seventh International Conference “Crimea 2000” Libraries and Associations in the Transient World: New Technologies and New Forms of Co-operation. Conference Proceedings. Sudak, Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine, June 3-11, 2000, Volume 1: 264-267.

[6] Bernd Wegner: ERAM — Digitalisation of Classical Mathematical Publications. Seventh International Conference “Crimea 2000” Libraries and Associations in the Transient World: New Technologies and New Forms of Co-operation. Conference Proceedings. Sudak, Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine, June 3-11, 2000, Volume 1: 268-272.

[7] Bernd Wegner: EULER — a DC-based Integrated Access to Library Catalogues and Other Mathematics Information in the Web, ECDL 2000, Lecture Notes in Computer Science 1923, 461-466 (2000).