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Most of today’s scientific research relies on computers and software not only for administrational tasks, but also for processing scientific information. Examples of such computer-aided research are the analysis of experimental data or the simulation of phenomena based on theoretical models. With the rapid increase of computational power, scientific software has integrated more and more complex scientific knowledge in a black-box fashion. As a consequence, its users do not know, and do not even have a chance of finding out, which assumptions and approximations their computations are based on. The black-box nature of scientific software has thereby become a major cause of mistakes. The present work starts with an analysis of this situation from the point of view of human-computer interaction in scientific research. It identifies the key role of digital scientific notations at the human-computer interface, reviews the most popular ones in use today, and describes a proof-of-concept implementation of Leibniz, a language explicitly designed as a digital scientific notation for models formulated as mathematical equations.
This is a submission to PeerJ Computer Science for review.