Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday in Paris

I spent most of today working on the SciPy 2009 proceedings with Gael and catching up on sleep and email.  For dinner, Gael, Emmanuelle, and I meet Jean-Baptiste Poline at the Denfert-Rochereau station and found a very traditional french wine bar called Au Vin des Rues, which is on rue Boulard just off of rue Daguerre and was open on a Sunday evening.  (I had a delicious slow-roasted leg of lamb with potatoes au gratin and rum baba for dessert.)  The rue Daguerre has a wonderful pedestrian street market I often seem to visit when I am in Paris.  Here is a picture of looking down the rue Daguerre (the street market is closed, of course) toward rue Boulard (you can see JB just right of center with Gael peeking over Emmanuelle's shoulder):

PJ Toussaint, who just flew back from a conference in Greece, joined us just in time for dessert.

Saturday in Paris

Just thought I'd try to keep a little journal of my trip.  We'll see how long this lasts.  Anyway, I landed at Charles de Gaulle at about 6:30am on Saturday morning and took the RER to Bourg-la-Reine to stay with Gael and Emmanuelle.  Here is the entrance to where I am staying:

And the view from my window:

Once I arrived I took a short nap and then went out with Gael to hunt and gather in the market above the passage he lives on.  Here are a two pictures I took at the local market (they had all kinds of things, but cheese and meat are, of course, the things that attracted me most):

We also went into a store called frozen food store called Picard:

After lunch, Gael and I headed to Paris.  Over the last five years, I've tried to visit the catacombs numerous times.  Unfortunately, every time I've visited, they've been closed.  This time turned out to be no different.  The picture on the left is Gael standing in front of the entrance to the catacombs (you can see a sign on the door, which states that they will be closed for the next month) and the picture on the right is of the road behind me:

Since I couldn't visit the catacombs, we decided to head to the Montmarte district to walk around for the afternoon.  Here are a couple of pictures of the Sacre Coeur at the summit of Montmarte:

I forgot to take pictures for the rest of the day, but after Montmarte we headed back to the Latin Quarter to spend a couple hours talking about the SciPy proceedings (which we hope to finish today) in a cafe with wireless internet.  And we grabbed an early dinner at 8pm with Emmanuelle and a couple of colleagues from Neurospin.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NumPy 1.4 coming soon!

Nearly eight months after NumPy 1.3, NumPy 1.4 will be released well before the holidays.  This release comes with the usual raft of bug fixes, performance improvements, new features, and improved documentation.

Our web-based documentation editing system continues to be a great asset.  In just over a year, this system has helped us to vastly expand and improve our documentation.  For instance, our reference guide has gone from under 10,000 words to over 110,000.  When Guido came to visit Berkeley a few weeks ago, Fernando Pérez showed him the web-based documentation editor and he was very impressed and even commented that it would be nice for the standard library to use a system like this.

David Cournapeau is again serving as release manager and he is also responsible for much of the code improvements for this release.  I just noticed the other day, that according to ohloh, David is quickly approaching Travis Oliphant's number of commits.  While it is hard to attach any specific meaning to this statistic, it is clear that at this point David is one the most significant contributors to NumPy.  Among his many contributions to this release, he reduced numpy's import time by 20%-30% by adding a small numpy.lib.inspect module and using it instead of the upstream inspect module.  Another very useful improvement by David is that you can now link against the core math library in an extension.

In addition to all the work David's done for the 1.4 release, some of his recent work won't be included until the 1.5 release.  Once David branches for 1.4, he has all ready promised to merge his Python 3 support for numpy.distutils into the trunk.  While we are just beginning to plan migrating to Python 3, this is an important early step.

Unfortunately I am not sure the new datetime dtype support for dealing with dates in arrays will be included in the 1.4 release.  This useful functionality was developed over the summer by Travis Oliphant and Marty Fuhry.  Marty was my Google Summer of Code student; although, I was pretty busy so Pierre Gerard-Marchant did most of the day-to-day mentoring.  Despite the fact that this code was merged with the trunk at the end of the summer, there is a reasonable chance that it will be pulled before the 1.4 release due to the lack of documentation for the public C API.

I've only touched on a few of the many improvements you can expect to see with NumPy 1.4.  For more details about the upcoming release, please see the release notes.  Thanks to everyone who worked on this release and to David in particular.

Friday, November 13, 2009

SciPy 2010 coming to Austin, TX (6/28 - 7/4)

Mark your calendar!  The 2010 SciPy Conference will be held in Austin, Texas from Monday, June 28th to Sunday, July 4th.  We are still in the early planning stages, but expect to have two days of tutorials, two days of conference, and three days of sprints:

  Tutorials        Monday (6/28) - Tuesday (6/29)
  Conference    Wednesday (6/30) - Thursday (7/1)
  Sprints           Friday (7/2) - Sunday (7/4)

From 2001 to 2009, the SciPy conference was held at Caltech with the generous support of the Center for Advanced Computing Research.  This year we've decided start holding the conference at rotating locations to ensure more people will get the opportunity to attend the conference.  Since the initial conference in 2001, the scientific computing in Python community has rapidly grown.  In addition to the main SciPy conference, we now have dedicated SciPy conferences in both Europe and India.  Moreover, there are an increasing number of non-SciPy conferences with dedicated sessions on scientific computing with Python.  For example, the SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering (CSE09) had a three-part minisymposium on Python for Scientific Computing.

This year we will also hold the conference earlier in the summer than in previous years--moving from the end of August to the end of June.  Holding the conference at the end of August meant that the conference coincided with the start of the spring semester for many attendees, which caused some scheduling conflicts.  Having the conference in late August also made it difficult to get a quick turn around on publishing our post-conference proceedings since most of the authors and reviewers had to focus on the beginning of the academic year.

We are also extending the post-conference sprint from two days to three.  Our post-conference sprints have been increasingly successful and we hope that by extending the sprint we will be able to get a lot more done.  We are also hoping that by moving the conference to earlier in the summer will give us more time to finish work started during the sprint before the fall semester.  For example, this year David Warde-Farley and I worked on migrating the SciPy homepage from a MoinMoin wiki to a Sphinx site.  During the sprint we made significant progress on the new site, but stopped short of being able to actually deploy it.  Both David and I haven't had time to finish our work due to the academic semester starting immediately after the conference.  The changes to the conference dates will hopefully increase our success in getting bigger projects, which are started during the sprint, finalized before the start of semester.  (Work is slowly progressing on the new site and I hope to switch to the new site in December, during the SciPy India 2009 sprint.)

And if you stay for the entire sprint, you will get to be part of a Texas-sized celebration of the fourth of July.  I was able to witness the festivities myself two years ago during the 2008 Mayavi sprint.  While some people may not be able to attend the sprint because of its overlap with the fourth of July celebration, these dates were our best options given all our constraints.  This summer is going to be a very busy one for the SciPy community.  There are at least two other SciPy-related events going on during the same time as our conference.  Sage Days 22 on elliptic curves will be held in Berkeley from June 21st to July 2nd, which unfortunately means that few Sage developers will be able to attend SciPy 2010.  And the 2nd European Seminar of Coupled Problems (ESCO) will be held June 28th to July 2nd in the Czech Republic.  It will feature a track on next generation scientific computing with a focus on Python.  While it is great to see scientific computing with Python being presented in more and more venues, this particular conference means that Gaël Varoquaux will most likely not be attending the 2010 SciPy conference.  As the program chair for both SciPy 2008 and SciPy 2009, Gaël has been essential to the success of the last two SciPy conferences.

Austin is called the "Silicon Hills" due to the large number of technology corporations located there and it advertises itself as the live music capital of the world.  Almost every establishment provides live music every evening.  Restaurants offer a wide variety of interesting fare with a focus on BBQ and Mexican Food.  If you need some exercise, the river that runs through the downtown area has a very well-used running path, and the hill country surrounding Austin has many hiking and biking trails.  And most importantly, Austin is home to Enthought.  Enthought is the main sponsor of both the SciPy project and the conference.

I am looking forward to the SciPy 2010 conference and hope to see many of you there.  If you are interested in helping out with the program committee, please send me an email.  I would also like to continue and expand the student travel funding, so if you are interested in sponsoring students to attend the conference, please contact me.  I will be posting more information regarding the venue and timeline in January (after I finish organizing the SciPy India conference).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

SciPy 2009 proceedings coming soon ...

This is the second year that we are going to publish proceedings for the SciPy conference. Last year's proceedings included 17 articles ranging from discussions on recent developments in the core projects to research articles describing how our community-developed software tools were used in different fields.

Gaël Varoquaux, Stéfan van der Walt, and I are editing the proceedings this year. All accepted articles have been reviewed and sent back to the authors for revision. The deadline for the revised articles is November 14th and we plan to release the proceedings by the end of the month. The articles are looking very good and I expect that the complete proceedings will be very informative and useful for the community.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

SciPy India 2009 Call for Presentations

The SciPy India 2009 Program Committee is currently developing the conference program. We are seeking presentations from industry as well as the academic world.

We look forward to hearing your how you are using Python! For more information, please read the full call for presentations.

About the SciPy India 2009 Conference

The first SciPy India Conference will be held from December 12th to 17th, 2009 at the Technopark in Trivandrum, Kerala, India.

The theme of the conference is "Scientific Python in Action" with respect to application and teaching. We are pleased to have Travis Oliphant, the creator and lead developer of numpy as the keynote speaker.

Please register here.

Important Dates
  • Friday, Nov. 20: Abstracts Due
  • Friday, Nov. 27: Announce accepted talks, post schedule
  • Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 12-13 Conference
  • Monday-Tuesday, Dec. 14-15 Tutorials
  • Wednesday-Thursday, Dec. 16-17 Sprints

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A visit from Guido van Rossum

We had a number of interesting visitors at Berkeley today. Guido van Rossum, the creator of Python, came to a special meeting of our Py4science group. Fernando Perez started the meeting with a 15-minute whirlwind overview of scientific computing with Python. He started by quickly presenting the basic stack of scientific software in Python, which most of us use. And he finished by highlighting some of Andrew Straw's recent work, the central role Python plays at the Space Telescope Science Institute, some of Enthought's contributions to the community, and the FOSSEE project run by Prabhu Ramachandran.

After Fernando finished his introduction, we heard nine short 4-minute lightning talks in rapid succession. This format really underscored how important Python is for so many different scientific disciplines. In addition to several presentations by faculty, staff, and students from UC Berkeley and LBL, we were fortunate to have two other visitors. William Stein spoke about Sage before running upstairs to present at the number theory seminar. And Ondřej Čertík spoke about sympy.

Following the formal presentations, Fernando facilitated an open discussion with Guido where we talked about everything from the transition to Python 3000 to the unladen swallow project. Hopefully, Fernando will post more details including links to the slides on his blog soon.