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ECLiPSe and Open Source licensing

ECLiPSe LogoExcellent news about ECLiPSe, the constraint programming package. It is now been open-sourced under the “Cisco-style Mozilla Public License”. For a while, I had wondered what had happened to the package. It used to be based at IC-Parc/Imperial College London, but that group disappeared all of a sudden, at least from my perspective. To see ECLiPSe come back in open-source is tremendous news. ECLiPSe is owned by Cisco Systems, who should be applauded for their decision to open-source. Here is a blurb about the software:

ECLiPSe is a software system for the cost-effective development and deployment of constraint programming applications, e.g. in the areas of planning, scheduling, resource allocation, timetabling, transport etc. It is also ideal for teaching most aspects of combinatorial problem solving, e.g. problem modelling, constraint programming, mathematical programming, and search techniques. It contains several constraint solver libraries, a high-level modelling and control language, interfaces to third-party solvers, an integrated development environment and interfaces for embedding into host environments.

Given that Cisco is looking for support and development people for ECLiPSe, the decision to open-source is obviously not a sign that Cisco wants to forget about the code, but is clearly a recognition that open-source code can be developed faster and better than propriety code.

I wrote before about COIN-OR, an open-source initiative originally developed by IBM but now with wide participation from the optimization world. Between the COIN-OR systems in integer and linear programming and the ECLiPSe system in constraint programming, some very top notch operations research code is now available in open-source.