About the Astrophysics Source Code Library
The Astrophysics Source Code Library (ASCL) is a free, on-line reference library for source codes of all sizes that are of interest to astrophysicists. All ASCL source codes have been used to generate results published in or submitted to a refereed journal. No ASCL code is guaranteed to be correct.
ASCL was founded in March 1999; in 2010, it was moved from its former site at ASCL.net to its current home. In the opinion of the editors, source codes are increasingly important for the advancement of science in general and astrophysics in particular. Papers are meant to detail the general logic behind new results and ideas but rarely make available the source codes that generated these results.
We at ASCL feel there should be a formal on-line reference library for these source codes. We feel the advantages are at least threefold:
1. Increased Falsifiability
Perhaps a crucial error was made in the coding of a sound idea. ASCL presents a way for authors to bolster their results by demonstrating the integrity of their source code(s). Conversely, ASCL presents a way for readers to bolster their confidence in published results by checking details of the source code(s).
2. Increased Communication
Perhaps an author finds it difficult to describe completely in the text of a paper how the results were obtained. ASCL creates a way for authors to present more detailed information about how their computations were carried out.
3. Increased Utility
Perhaps an author has created a code that (s)he feels is itself useful to other astrophysicists. ASCL creates a way for these authors to disseminate a source code of significant utility to astrophysicists.
ASCL is not meant to compete with journals, but to complement them. Journals do not usually publish source codes, and ASCL will not publish papers. In fact, to be archived in ASCL, astrophysics codes must have been used to generate results presented in (or submitted to) a refereed astronomy or astrophysics journal.
Codes in the ASCL are not meant to compete with established software packages, although we recognize that there is some overlap. Packages such as IMSL and Numerical Recipes provide general math support for larger programs in astrophysics. Although useful general subroutines might be found by the inquisitive scientist searching ASCL, we expect most of ASCL's utility will be in routines that are so specific to branches of science and astrophysics that no commercial product is available or even financially feasible.