Software and research: the Institute's Blog
You have a piece of data-processing code, it works well, and both your colleagues and other researchers think it is useful. So, you decide to turn it into a Web Service so that it can be used by anyone with Web access. Yet do you know how to go about it? These Top Tips will help you get started.
Posted by AleksandraPawlik on Wednesday 4 December 2013.
By Aleksandra Pawlik, Training lead.
The role of software in research, its influence on researchers' productivity and innovation, best practice for sharing and attribution, and computing training for scientists. These topics will all be discussed at the Software and Research Town Hall Meeting at the AGU 2013.
Posted by AleksandraPawlik on Tuesday 3 December 2013.
This article is part of our series: a day in the software life, in which we will be asking researchers from all disciplines to discuss the tools that make their research possible.
How the Internet is used today is pushing its original architecture in an unexpected and ever more demanding direction.
The Internet, as it presently is, faces several limitations in regards to scalability, networking, mobility, and security. This requires a radical approach and a fundamental redesign of Internet architecture. Our research into these issues has allowed us to propose new technological and service schemes, supported by both theoretical and proof-of-concept studies.
Posted by alexanderhay on Tuesday 3 December 2013.
This article is part of our series, a day in the software life, in which we ask researchers from all disciplines to discuss the tools that make their research possible.
Making Dinosaurs move is fun. As anyone who's seen Jurassic Park will tell you, extinct megafauna is a sight to behold. That doesn't mean there is any scientific basis behind what we see at the movies. All too often, the animators produce something that they think looks credible, but this is hardly good science.
Fortunately, there is a far more accurate alternative: virtual robotics. Put simply, if you treat your fossilised beast as a machine that needs testing, and as long as you know the mechanical properties of its bones, you should be able to accurately simulate how it moved.
Posted by alexanderhay on Friday 29 November 2013.
By Melody Sandells, Software Sustainability Institute Fellow, and Research Fellow, Environmental Systems Science Centre, University of Reading
The first time I heard the term bus factor was at the Institute's 2013 Collaborations Workshop. In summary, it refers to the number of people who would have to be run over by a bus in order for that software to no longer be adequately maintained any more - a neat concept, or so I thought. I then realised my software has a bus factor of one, which is to say, just me, so I needed to spend more time thinking about why that is, and to distribute my software in some way.
Posted by AleksandraPawlik on Thursday 28 November 2013.
By Nick Brown, Applications Developer, EPCC
Reproduced from the original post on the EPCC blog.
My colleague Mike Jackson recently posted about the DiRAC driving test. DiRAC is the UK's integrated supercomputing facility for theoretical modelling and HPC-based research in particle physics, astronomy and cosmology and is used by numerous researchers from many backgrounds. Whilst much of the researchers' work is different, one commonality is that it often requires in-depth technical and software engineering techniques. The idea of the driving test was to ensure that all users have the required knowledge for effective use of the consortium’s machines.
Posted by MikeJackson on Thursday 28 November 2013.
By Ben Morris, PhD student in Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology at University of North Carolina
Reproduced with kind permission from the original post on Ben's website.
The two tools that I use most frequently to manage my research are Git and Make. I've been using Git for years, but Make for only the past year or so. Ironically, I learned about it at a Software Carpentry workshop at which I was one of the instructors. Since then, it's become a key weapon in my computational arsenal. In this post, I'll try to sell you on using Make for your own research projects.
Posted by Simon Hettrick on Monday 25 November 2013.
By Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director.
There are more unemployed graduates in computer science than in any other discipline (see my last post). In an attempt to understand the issue, David Willetts, the Minister of State for Universities and Skills, recently held a workshop that brought together leading representatives from industry and academia, and the Software Sustainability Institute. In this post, I’ll discuss my take on some of the ideas that were discussed.
If you want good quality graduates you need to start young, so the first focus is schools. Programming has just been introduced to the national curriculum, which is a great first step. Now we need teachers who are both knowledgeable and - most importantly - passionate about computer science. Computer science is all too often taught by people whose first degree, and general interest, lies in another domain. We must attract talented computer scientists into teaching so that they can pass on their excitement about the subject to the next generation.
Posted by Simon Hettrick on Thursday 21 November 2013.
By Ian Cottam, IT Services Research Lead, The University of Manchester.
This is the eighth - and likely the last - in my short series about heroes of software engineering, so I will write about something different. Readers may have noticed that several of my previous heroes are now in their 70s or even 80s, so today instead features some of the current generation of innovators. These are the people behind Dropbox, including founders Arash Ferdowsi and Drew Houston and the men and women of the Dropbox software engineering team.
I first started using Houston and Ferdowsi’s software in early 2009, and I was immediately impressed. The key for me was the way their design concentrated on the synchronisation problem of files across devices. In addition, you can also store your files on your own machines, with the exception of smartphones and other mobile devices.
Posted by Simon Hettrick on Monday 18 November 2013.
By David De Roure, Carole Goble, Mark Parsons and Neil Chue Hong.
There is growing recognition that software underpins our research and infrastructure, and we are increasingly funding the use and development of software in research projects. Software, like data, outlives projects and hardware investments – it underpins the rigour of research and demands at least as much attention as data. It is important that investment in software is backed by simple changes in practice to enable maximum return.
This is even more evident when reading the UK House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report on Scientific Infrastructure which recommends "that the training and other costs, as well as the value of the skilled workforce needed to operate scientific infrastructure, are fully taken into account in developing the strategy and an underpinning investment plan [by the UK government]". A recent workshop on practices that lead to sustainable scientific and research software has confirmed our prior experiences in understanding best practice for software development, and the role of funders in this.
Posted by NeilChueHong on Monday 18 November 2013.
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