Information Access Seminar

Math People, a Distributed Name Authority System

2006-12-01T15:00:00 - 2006-12-01T17:00:00
Friday, December 1, 2006
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Jim Pitman, UC Berkeley & Institute of Mathematical Statistics

Math People is a Web 2.0 application which leverages multiple sources of personal name data to provide a distributed name authority system for people in the mathematical sciences. For users browsing a suitable webpage related to mathematical science, the system will provide links back to a name server which will match names and identifiers in the text and url of the page with name and identifier data gleaned from various sources including homepages and open access digital repositories, to provide authoritative links to these sources whenever possible. The system also allows authorized users to make identifications and disambiguate the name data.

It is designed to be an open navigation system to allow users to pass through the walls which currently separate various information resources. If successful in achieving this purpose in mathematical sciences, there appears to be no obstacle to propagation of the system to provide a distributed name authority network spanning any branch of human knowledge with enough people and professional organizations willing to support it.

The proposed business model for long term maintenance of the system is that data providers with adequate financial resources support the system to enhance the appeal to users of their electronic offerings, with either open or gated access: with a small tax on that income from gated resources to support the linking infrastructure. In determining the extent of its support of such an open system, each data provider will have to balance its interest in the open flow of academic information against its instinct to keep users away from competing sites, or to restrict navigation by a closed linking system such as CrossRef which does not acknowledge open access digital repositories or professional homepages. For more see:

Jim Pitman is Professor of Statistics and Mathematics at U.C. Berkeley, and President of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. Over the last few years he has been working towards improving the quality and quantity of open access content in the mathematical sciences, by promoting and launching open access journals for expository and survey material, and by creating bibliographic software to encourage distributed alternatives to centrally controlled indexing systems. More at

Last updated: March 26, 2015