Community

puzzleBy Yihui Xie. With an introduction by Raniere Silva, Software Sustainability Institute.

Here at the Institute, we talk a lot about best practices when developing software but we rarely talk about best practices for issue/bug reports. Probably one of the most important best practices to follow when reporting an issue/bug is to provide minimal example. Yihui Xie, author of various R packages, wrote the blog post "The Minimal Reproducible Example Paradox" on his blog, which is a reflection of the importance of users dedicate some time to develop a minimal example. With Yihui's permission, we’ve reproduced his post below.

You can access the original post at Yihui Xie's blog.


How many times have I reminded a user of posting a minimal, self-contained, and reproducible example (reprex)? Probably 500 times. How many times do I think I will still need to remind users of this? Perhaps 5000 times.

I think there is a paradox, and there isn’t a clever solution. The paradox is that we software developers know much more about our own software than average users (especially beginners), and we naturally anticipate a reprex, but users are in the dark, not knowing what information to…

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Today, we’ll be hosting a Launch Webinar online where Raniere Silva, our Community Officer, will talk about the Programme, and Nikoleta Glynatsi, Gary Leeming, David Perez-Suarez, Iza A. Romanowska and Melody Sandells will share their experiences as Institute Fellows. This will be a great opportunity to ask questions or get further information.

The webinar will start at 2.00pm BST and to take part you just need to connect to our YouTube event.

The Institute's Fellowship programme funds researchers in exchange for their expertise and advice.

The main goals of the Programme are gathering intelligence about research and software from all disciplines, encouraging Fellows to develop their interests in the area of software sustainability (especially in their areas of research) and aid them as ambassadors of good software practice in their domains. 

For further information, please visit the Fellowship Programme page and the FAQ, which include details about eligibility.

Human-like computingBy Caroline Jay, University of Manchester.

Software engineering is difficult. This is particularly true in a research environment, where code is often intended to be a precise representation of a scientific entity, process or system. Developers must grapple with the difficult issues that affect every software development project, but also deal with the fact that the formal representations used by machine computation are frequently at odds with the heuristics used by the human brain (an issue discussed in a recent Institute blogpost on code/theory translation).

Over the past two years, a new research domain has started to emerge, that may ultimately offer a solution to this problem. “Human-Like Computing” is the shared endeavour of researchers from psychology and computer science, with a common desire to improve the interface between technology and people. At first glance, the aim of this domain might appear familiar: research areas such as robotics and natural language processing have been working towards naturalistic communication with people for a long time. The difference with human-like computing, is how this aim is achieved: the focus is on understanding human cognition, and using this to produce a step-…

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Europython 2017By Alice Harpole, University of Southampton

Coding is often seen as a tool to do science, rather than an intrinsic part of the scientific process. This often results in scientific code that is written in a rather unscientific way. In my experience as a PhD student, I've regularly read papers describing exciting new codes, only to find that there are number of issues preventing me from looking at or using the code itself. The code is often not open source, which means I can’t download or use it. Code commonly has next to no documentation, so even if I can download it, it's very difficult to work out how it runs. There can be questionable approaches to testing with an overreliance on replicating "standard" results, but no unit tests exist to demonstrate that the individual parts of the code work as they should. This is not good science and goes against many of the principles of the scientific method followed in experimental science.

In the following sections, I shall look at how we might go about writing code in a more scientific way. This material is based on the talk I recently gave at Europython 2017 on Sustainable Scientific Software Development.

Scientific code

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Fellowship Programme 2018By Raniere Silva, Community Officer, Software Sustainability Institute.

Register for the Fellowship Programme Launch Webinar on Friday 15 September from 2.00pm to 3.30pm BST. Raniere Silva, our Community Officer, will talk about the programme, the application process, and some of our Fellows will share their experiences. Whether you’re planning on submitting an application or you want further information about the programme, our webinar is the perfect platform to learn more and ask questions about the Fellowship.

This year, sorted by last name, Nikoleta Glynatsi, Gary Leeming, David Perez-Suarez, Iza A. Romanowska and Melody Sandells will join us on the webinar to talk about their experience as Institute fellows. Their background is in operational research, health informatics, astronomy, archaeological sciences and Earth system sciences, which will provide our attendees with a broad but not limited view of the research areas that can benefit from better software or coding practices. Applications from all research areas…

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By Kenji Takeda, Microsoft Research.

It is a privilege to announce the Research Software Engineering Cloud Computing Awards at the RSE 2017 conference! It is clear that cloud computing is helping researchers worldwide, across all disciplines, and it is a key enabler for AI and machine learning at scale. With these awards, Microsoft wants to empower RSEs to explore, educate and extend cloud computing for researchers. The goal is to create a community bridging researchers, university stakeholders, regional teams, and national services, to better understand how Microsoft Azure can enable better, faster and more reproducible research in everyday use.

We are looking for people who are passionate about exploring how cloud computing can be used in research, sharing their experiences with cloud computing, and advocating best practice in their research domain, institution, and/or community. The awards are flexible and will support training, workshops, cloud computing prototype designs and research solutions, and publication of open-source code and frameworks for Microsoft Azure. We are particularly interested in RSEs using AI, machine learning, and data science in their projects.

Each award provides £2000 GBP for education, outreach, and implementation of research solutions using the Microsoft Cloud. This is complemented by 12 months of Microsoft Azure credits at $250 USD per month, for one year. Awardees will be able to use the title RSE Cloud Computing Fellow.

Apply…

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On this page, we've provided more information about the RSE Cloud Computing Award and how it works.

Help

All questions and suggestions should be sent to competition@software.ac.uk.

Terminology

We will use the word event to refer to conferences, meetings, training, workshops and other events.

The word Fellow or Fellows will refer to a recipient of the RSE Cloud Computing Award.

The word expenses will be used to describe expenses incurred for both travel, subsistence and expenses related to the running of and attending events.

Eligibility

Applicants must:

  • Hold a full-time position at a university or non-profit research organisation;
  • Be able to receive award funds into a university/organisation finance account that can be drawn against for reimbursement of incurred expenses;

Applicants may have one or more of the following roles:

  • research software engineer who supports the work of researchers;
  • A researcher who uses software;
  • A developer who writes tools for researchers;
  • In a leadership role in projects or organisations that make heavy use of software, compute, and data services.

Applicants should be UK resident and primarily practicing in the UK. Exceptional applications from outside the UK may be considered at the panel’s sole discretion.

How we decide who succeeds

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The Research Software Engineering (RSE) Cloud Computing Awards, supported by Microsoft, enable RSEs to explore, educate and extend cloud computing for researchers.

Microsoft has championed the Research Software Engineers initiative since its inception. We are strong supporters and participants in the RSE community, and advocate the importance of RSEs as a key pillar of the research ecosystem.  The Azure for Research initiative has involved thousands of researchers worldwide, working on hundreds of projects, to see how cloud computing can empower researchers to achieve more. The goal of the RSE Cloud Computing Awards program is to create a community bridging researchers, university stakeholders, regional teams, and national services, to better understand how Microsoft Azure can enable better, faster, and more reproducible research.

How to apply

Microsoft is proud to work with the RSE Network to support successful applicants with the following benefits:

  • £2000 GBP to support education, outreach, and implementation of research solutions using the Microsoft Cloud;
  • 12 months of Microsoft Azure credits at $250 USD per month, up to $3,000 for one year;
  • Opportunity to provide direct feedback to Microsoft;
  • Promotion of RSE cloud computing activity with Microsoft Azure to a national and global audience, providing visibility of the applicant’s work and impact.
  • Use of the title RSE Cloud Computing Fellow.

Successful applicants should demonstrate…

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Watch the webinar recording

The webinar ran on Friday, 15 September from 2.00pm to 3.30pm BST. A recording is available on YouTube.

Schedule

2:00pm - Welcome (Raniere Silva) (Slides, Video)
2:05pm - Introduction to the Institute (Raniere Silva) (Slides, Video)
2:10pm - Introduction to the Fellowship Programme (Raniere Silva) (Slides, Video)
2:20pm - Melody Sandells (Slides, Video)
2:30pm - Gary Leeming (No slides, Video)
2:40pm - Iza A. Romanowska (Slides, Video)
2:50pm - Nikoleta Glynatsi (Slides…

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