Software and research: the Institute's Blog

Git Merge 2017By Raniere Silva, Community Officer, Software Sustainability Institute

In 2015, I watched the recording of Emma Jane Hogbin Westby's talk "Teaching People Git" at Git Merge 2015. Her talk is inspiring, improves teaching skills of people like me—a Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry instructor—, and helps researchers learn version control. When I discovered that Git Merge 2017 would take place in Brussels, I knew that I should attend to be a better teacher and have a good time with other Git users.

Git Merge is organised by GitHub, one of the Git host providers, and sponsored by, among others, GitLab and Bitbucket—GitHub's competitors who show that during the event we should put our differences aside and be friends. I can say that the atmosphere of the workshop was great and everyone were very polite with each other. In addition, all ticket proceeds went to the Software Freedom Conservancy, Git’s…

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British Library awards, Library CarpentryBy James Baker, Lecturer in Digital History and Archives, University of Sussex, and Software Sustainability Institute Fellow

Librarians play a crucial role in cultivating world-class research and in most disciplinary areas today world-class research relies on the use of software. Established non-profit organisations such as Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry offer introductory software skills training with a focus on the needs and requirements of research scientists. Library Carpentry is a comparable introductory software skills training programme with a focus on the needs and requirements of library professionals: and by software skills, I mean coding and data manipulation that go beyond the use of familiar office suites. As librarians have substantial expertise working with data, we believe that adding software skills to their armoury is an effective and important use of professional development resource that benefits both library professionals and their colleagues and collaborators across higher education and beyond.

In November 2015 the first Library Carpentry workshop programme took place at City University London Centre for Information, generously supported by the…

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Weather forecastingBy Malcolm Illingworth, Software Consultant, Software Sustainability Institute

The Software Sustainability Institute have been working with the Institute of Climate and Atmospheric Science (ICAS) at the University of Leeds, to help improve the sustainability of their GLOMAP software suite. Kirsty Pringle of ICAS applied for consultancy from the Institute via the Open Call.

One of the biggest challenges in our ability to understand and predict climate change is learning about the role played by tiny particles, such as dust or soot. These aerosol particles are known to influence our climate in complex ways, but how this interaction works is an open area of research.

The Institute of Climate and Atmospheric Science (ICAS) at the University of Leeds  seeks to improve our understanding of how these aerosol particles affect our climate. Their research uses both computer-based climate models and uncertainty analysis to quantify the role that natural aerosols play in climate change. As part of this research, ICAS have developed the GLOMAP model, a flexible…

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DiversityBy Eilis Hannon, Research Fellow in Bioinformatics, in the Complex Disease Epigenetic Group at the University of Exeter.

This post summarises a discussion with Lawrence Hudson, Roberto Murcio, Penny Andrew and Robin Long as part of the Fellow Selection Day 2017.

The question of how to improve diversity is suitably broad and vague to initially induce silence in a group, but eventually, true to its name, it promotes a wide-ranging discussion. Sometimes the task is divided up to target particular under-represented groups, as it starts to become a bit of a minefield to develop a scheme that improves diversity in general. What opens the door to some parts of society can simultaneously close the doors to others. Hackathon events are a common and successful method of attracting young people to computer science; however, if they take place over the weekend and are marketed as providing beer and pizza for sustenance, you start to exclude anyone with caring responsibilities or discourage anyone who doesn’t drink.

Before we can think about trying to improve diversity, it is helpful to consider what exactly do we mean and what are the benefits…

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Jupyter sprintBy Raniere Silva, Community Officer, Software Sustainability Institute

On 16-20th January, the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences hosted the Computational Mathematics with Jupyter workshop organised jointly by the OpenDreamKit and CoDiMa projects where GAP, Singular, SageMath, Jupyter users and developers met for experience sharing talks and coding hackathons.

In a previous blog post, we covered the talks during the Computational Mathematics with Jupyter workshop and in this post we will mention some of the achievements of the workshop attendees during the sprint. If you do a search on Wikipedia, "a sprint is a get-together of people involved in a project to further a focused development of the project", but at this sprint attendees worked on more than one project. Some people are sceptical about the value of sprints, but we hope that the Jupyter sprint helped…

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