UK Nonlinear News, November 1999

Zentralblatt MATH - The Core European Database in Mathematics

By Bernd Wegner (Technical University, Berlin)


Zentralblatt MATH is the most traditional reviewing and indexing service in mathematics covering all mathematical literature world-wide. Soon after the European Mathematical Society (EMS) had been founded there started a discussion that EMS may become involved in the edition of this service. This participation as an editorial institution became practise about four years ago, though the official contract was signed only later. This was accompanied by firstly trying to convert Zentralblatt MATH into an enterprise that is supported by all European countries, to complement electronic information services in mathematics with Zentralblatt MATH as the core service by additional components and to develop contracts which enable access to this gateway to mathematical research to all mathematical institutions at affordable rates. This note provides more detailed information on the facilities provided by Zentralblatt MATH and on the options negotiated by EMS and the other editorial institutions with Springer-Verlag to gain access to the service.

The web version of Zentralblatt MATH

Zentralblatt MATH is offered in three versions: the conventional printed reviewing service and two electronic services, one on CD-ROM for off-line use and one as a database with WWW-access. The European Mathematical Information Service EMIS provides a link to the WWW-access which can be reached directly under the URL Additional access will be directly available to mirrors of ZMATH which will be installed world-wide. The full use of the database only will only be available to subscribers, but there is also a free component in the link from EMIS to ZMATH: Any user of EMIS can do searches in ZMATH. But non-subscribers only will get information on at most three hits from their hit list. These hits will be taken from the top of the list, where the most recent items are displayed.

Some details on the facilities provided by Zentralblatt MATH: It covers all the mathematical literature, starting with 1931. The total amount of documents for which information is stored in ZMATH is almost 1,700,000 and this is increasing by more than 65,000 items annually. The update of the database is made every two weeks which corresponds to the production of the printed version of Zentralblatt. The scope of publications handled by this service includes in addition to mathematics applications in physics, mechanics, computer science, economics, biology et al.

Searches can be made using the following list of fields: authors, titles, classification (according to MSC), basic index, source, language etc. A search can be formulated in logical combinations of these terms. For their search the user is guided by a graphic menu. The information appears in the AMSTEX source code, but several choices for a convenient formula display in different formats are available. Download of the hit list at the users site is allowed. Downloading the BIBTEX offer will provide authors with a useful tool for referencing.

For the convenience of the user links to the full text of the article of interest are installed, if the article is available electronically. Such a link only works if the access to the electronic article is free or if the user has subscribed to the corresponding journal. Other options to obtain the full text of articles consist of central document delivery services. Buttons connecting to such services, ennabling the user to see if the article is available, are installed in the search menu. Document delivery can be arranged by these services electronically or by sending copies by ordinary mail at reasonable rates.

As mentioned in the introduction, to connect EMIS with the database of Zentralblatt MATH is one part of the increasing involvement of the European Mathematical Society in the editing of this reviewing service. Additional offers in EMIS like MATHDI (education in mathematics), the JFM-database (the Jahrbuch ueber die Fortschritte der Mathematik, 1868-1943)and MPRESS (a preprint index) extend this core to a wider range of information on mathematical papers. These can be accessed through links installed on the first page of EMIS.

Consortia of Subscriptions

The idea of the consortium is to enable all mathematicians in a country or region to use the web version of Zentralblatt MATH. The main difficulty in achieving this is to arrange the subscription rates within the consortium in such a way that the participants can afford it. There are mathematical departments of different sizes and with different funding for their libraries and their research infrastructure. There are smaller groups of mathematicians at universities or high schools without curricula in mathematics, who want to remain active in mathematical research, but have almost no funding for their research activities. There are even isolated mathematicians, who may consider a connection to Zentralblatt MATH and its services in the background as the best chance to keep contact to new developments and achievements in mathematics. All these clients should have a chance to use the service.

To get a better idea what a fair contribution from these potential participants may be, they should become acquainted with the offers of Zentralblatt and develop their own experience how helpful they will be for their work. Hence the first step is to provide them with free access for test purposes. For the UK this just has been promoted by CHEST

Several institutes have already registered for this facility, currently offered without charge for the year 1999. CHEST will be in charge of organising and administrating the consortium in the UK.

It is the intention of this note to make the promotion more public, hoping to reach additional institutes and also single mathematicians, who are interested in accessing this database. In a second phase, those who are interested to use Zentralblatt MATH as a permanent infrastructure for their mathematical activities should be able to do this for an additional period at a reduced subscription rate. The greater the participation of institutes from the UK in this consortium, the more possibilities will be available for smaller institutes and "isolated" mathematicians to hook on the consortium without any additional financial contribution from their own. This will be subject to further discussion in the future.

Though EMS is not directly visible in connection with this consortium, the rather convenient subscription conditions have to be considered as a consequence of the involvement of EMS in the edition of Zentralblatt MATH.

Professor Dr. Bernd Wegner
Editor-in-Chief of Zentralblatt MATH
Fachbereich Mathematik, Technische Universitaet
Strasse des 17. Juni 135, D-10623 Berlin, Germany


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