June 23, 2007
I’ve just been looking through a couple of quite large listings of maths textbooks: Textbooks in Mathematics by Alex Stefanov at the ICTP (mirrored at geocities), and Online Mathematics Textbooks by George Cain who is retired from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Both bring together a wide variety of material from various academics, researchers and enthusiasts.
Some of the textbooks listed are explicitly open, but many are made available for non-commercial purposes or don’t have any licensing information.
Here are a few of the open ones:
- A First Course in Linear Algebra by Rob Beezer (University of Puget Sound). GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL)
- A Problem Course in Mathematical Logic by Stefan Bilaniuk (Trent University). GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL)
- Measure Theory by D. H. Fremlin (University of Essex). Available under a Design Science License (DSL).
- Introduction to Probability by Charles Grinstead (Swarthmore College) & J. Laurie Snell (Dartmouth College). GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL)
- Linear Algebra by Jim Hefferon (Saint Michaels College, Vermont). Creative Commons – Attribution ShareAlike (BY-SA).
There are also many maths textbooks under Creative Commons Non-Commercial and/or No Derivatives licenses – such as Shlomo Sternberg’s books, Dan Sloughter’s calculus texts or Victor Shoup’s A Computational Introduction to Number Theory and Algebra.
This looks to suggest that:
- It is worth chasing up textbook authors to ask them to clarify whether or not their work is open, and to suggest using an explicitly open license if it is. (See Dead knowledge: why being explicit about openness matters for more on this.)
- It should be made clear that not all Creative Commons licenses are open. (As was commented on in iCommons 2007: Retrospective Reflections.)