Provenance for Calculations

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2004-09-13 Print this article Print

Mathsoft Engineering & Education's Designate brings the idea of provenance to the company's Calculation Management Suite, raising confidence and auditability in product development and service delivery processes.

A "Provenance," documenting the origin and the chain of ownership of an art object to ensure its authenticity, is also good to have in the case of a complex calculation used in designing a product.

Designate, set to be unveiled this week by Mathsoft Engineering & Education, brings the idea of provenance to the companys Calculation Management Suite, raising confidence and auditability in product development and service delivery processes.

Designate complements the concurrently unveiled Version 12 of the companys flagship Mathcad product, a leading tool for interactive calculation and documentation. The enterprise-oriented suite, including both products, is priced starting at $15,000 per installation, including software maintenance and on-site training.

User organizations can determine from Designate not only the origin but also the subsequent use of a formula, data plot, visual design aid or other similar work. A downstream user can be satisfied that the original source is credible, while that source can maintain its credibility by letting every affected party know if an error is corrected or a refinement is made.

Mathsofts XML-based document architecture may raise red flags at sites that wish to equate the use of XML with a commitment to platform neutrality. Mathsofts products are built for Windows, taking advantage of that platforms .Net doctrines and goals. This enables productive integration with other such products.

It also, however, represents a choice that may prevent or complicate the products use at sites that have other preferences.

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Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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