Software and research: the Institute's Blog

Publish or be damned? An alternative impact manifesto for research software

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

In the research world, we're often told that the the only way for our work to have a measurable impact is through the citation of publications based on our work. The mechanisms for this are in place, the stakeholders understand the framework, and everyone is happy... or so we're led to believe.

However, the status quo neglects the many research outputs, including software, that may be generated by a research activity and certainly doesn't encourage their sharing and reuse, let alone give proper credit for their production.

The Ancient Greeks knew a thing or two about software problems

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

An Ancient Greek harp, which had been lost to the world, turns out to a fantastic argument for software sustainability.

At a conference last week, I talked to Domenico Vicinanza about the Epigonion: a kind of harp that was popular in Greece around the first century. None of the instruments have survived to the present day, so its existence was only known from historical records (such as the image shown on this page). It’s not just the instrument that has been lost, so have the skills and know-how needed to create one. This led Domenico’s team to set about a digital resurrection…

Coder, programmer or software developer - spot the difference!

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

Ask a hundred people what the cloud is and you’ll get a hundred different replies.

Ask a hundred different people what a computer programmer does and what, if any, the difference is between a programmer and a software developer, and you’ll also get a hundred different replies.

Ask me what the difference is, and this is what I’d reply…

Ask Steve! - How to Specify and Implement Data Movement?

Latest version published on 30 September, 2016.

You may recall back in February I talked about the importance of data formats when choosing a programming language for sustainable development.  Since then, I’ve received the following question…

“We’re currently putting together a machine for data intensive research. The machine will have a data-staging node, and 120 other nodes (configured using ROCKS)…

What do we want? Fewer abbreviations! When do we want them? ASAP!

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

The EGI is an abbreviation-heavy community.

There's the EGI - European Grid Infrastructure - which provides researchers with access to computing resources. There's also the EMI - the European Middleware Initiative (see my post from yesterday). It's completely different to the EGI, and is working to unify the different middlewares used in Europe (middleware is the software that ties together different computer resources.) Oh, and let’s not forget IGE (not EGI or EMI). It’s the Initiative for Globus in Europe, which coordinates European work on Globus (another middleware…

Three tips on software sustainability from the EGI User Forum

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

This week, I'm at the EGI (European Grid Infrastructure) User Forum in Vilnius (if you want to know more about the EGI, see my earlier post).

Before the first plenary was over, the term sustainability had featured at least a dozen times. This is heartening news for the Software Sustainability Institute! I was particularly interested in Alberto Di Meglio’s plenary talk about ‘open-source middleware and the road to sustainability’ (middleware is the software that ties together different computer resources). Alberto is the leader of the European Middleware…

Grid computing explained at the European Grid Infrastructure User Forum

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

The European Grid Infrastructure (EGI) provides European researchers with access to computing resources. And not just any computing resources – we’re talking big resources, the kind needed by scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider. There’s some interesting overlap between the EGI's work and the Software Sustainability Institute, especially when it comes to supporting research, so this week I’m at the EGI User Forum to find out more.

If you’re interested in the grid, the EGI has some very good resources to describe their work. They’ve created a guide to the grid, which…

Is all publicity, good publicity?

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

As a philosophy, no publicity is bad publicity seems to work pretty well for celebrities. The kind of transgressions that would end most people’s careers only seem to bolster a celebrity's stock. But before you attempt to raise your project’s status by being caught in flagrante delicto, it’s good to remember how far we can push things in the real world – a subject that came up recently here at the Software Sustainability Institute.

As a new project, we want our name to be known in the outside world. Exposure costs money, and that’s something that academic…

Ask Steve! - The Bug is back

Latest version published on 30 September, 2016.

As is traditional at 12.00, we have to come clean and say that the following post was published for April Fool’s day. Sorry…

There is a worrying correlation between the number of IT projects in the world, and the number of IT project overruns. In fact, a Whitehall report shows that  UK public IT projects were, in total, 86 years overdue and £2bn over budget! That’s bad news for the exchequer, but it seems like there’s worse to come. It turns out…

Applications in a distributed world

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

William Vassilis Karageorgos is a research assistant at the IASA inter-university research institute. While pursuing a doctoral degree on High Energy Physics, William has been working on the Applications Database - a service provided by the European Grid Initiative (EGI). This service could help to prevent software decay, so we asked William to give us an overview.

For those of you who are not familiar with it, the Applications Database (or AppDB, as we call it for short) is a service that stores information about tailor-made computing tools, and the…