Oliva Guest

Pyconimage.pngby Olivia Guest, University of Oxford.

I signed up to go to PyCon UK 2016 because their website has a Nyan cat on it. OK, seriously. Firstly, I knew a few people going from other events (Software Sustainability Institute Fellows 2016 Selection Day, Collaborations Workshop 2016, PyData London 2016, Research Data Visualisation Workshop)—I knew I was going to have a nice time socially with (at least) Vincent Knight and Raniere Silva! Secondly, I am strictly speaking between jobs (although science waits for no-one), so I thought an extra long conference might be apropos. And finally, I really wanted to see An Introduction to Deep Learning with TensorFlow by Peter Goldsborough because I use this framework in

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By Olivia Guest, Postdoctoral Researcher, Oxford BabyLab, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford and Software Sustainability Institute Fellow.

I signed up to go to PyData London for three reasons. Firstly, looking over the talks I noticed that a lot of them were about specific machine learning algorithms and libraries we (I and/or my lab use) in our research, e.g., gensim and theano. Specific emphasis was placed on artificial neural networks, a type of computational model I both teach to undergraduate students (part of a movement called connectionism) and use daily in my research. So I assumed that it would be a good opportunity to ask questions and meet the developers of some of the libraries and codebases we use.

Secondly, having been working in experimental psychology departments since 2009, it often requires a little more effort to stay in the loop so to speak when it comes to programming tools and trends. So while I know how to write a journal article and how to design experiments because I practise these in…

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By Oliva Guest, University of Oxford, Robin Wilson, University of Southampton, Martin Jones, Python for biologists and Craig MacLachlan, Met Office Hadley Centre.

A speed blog from the Collaborations Workshop 2016 (CW16).

Why are sustainable software practices difficult to teach?

Programming is a difficult thing to learn for students who have not been exposed to it before. However, for general programming there are at least some factors that help to make it easier. Feedback is generally very rapid; after writing and running a piece of code, students can see the result straight away. This isn't true for e.g. automated testing; the payoff for writing a test suite comes long after the fact, when it helps to catch a bug. The same goes for version control — until students have encountered one of the problems that version control is designed to solve, it seems like an unnecessary extra step in development.

Increasingly, programming is becoming a necessary tool for students who don't have a computer science background (represented in this discussion group: meteorologists, biologists, psychologists and physicists). Students coming to programming for the first time are often lacking in computer…

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