[Numpy-discussion] Numpy governance update - was: Updated differences between 1.5.1 to 1.6.1

Travis Oliphant travis@continuum...
Tue Feb 14 15:54:56 CST 2012


>> 
>> There is a mailing list for numfocus that you can sign up for if you would like to be part of those discussions.   Let me know if you would like more information about that.    John Hunter, Fernando Perez, me, Perry Greenfield, and Jarrod Millman are the initial board of the Foundation.   But, I expect the Foundation directors to evolve over time.
> 
> I should say that I have no knowledge of the events above other than
> from the mailing list (I say that only because some of you may know
> that I'm a friend and colleague of Jarrod and Fernando).

Thanks for speaking up, Matthew.   I knew that this was my first announcement of the Foundation to this list.   Things are still just starting around that organization, and so there is plenty of time for input.   This sort of thing has actually been under-way for a long time --- it just has not received much impetus until now for one reason or another.   

To be clear, there were several email posts about a Foundation to this list last fall and we took the discussion of the Foundation that has really been in the works for a couple of years (thanks to Jarrod), to a Google Group (very poorly) called Fastechula.    There were 33 people who signed up for that list and discussions continued sporadically on that list away from this one.    

When we selected the name NumFOCUS just a few weeks ago, we created the list for numfocus and then I signed everyone up for that list who was on the other one.      I apologize if anyone felt left out.   That is not my intention.   But, I also did not want to consume this mailing list with something that might be considered off-topic.     I repeat that there is still plenty time for input.     Obviously, the board has been selected.  But that must be done by someone.  I took the liberty to invite the first board members who graciously accepted the assignment.   I consider the Foundation a service opportunity.   I'm grateful that representatives from the major projects are willing to serve.  I expect that to be a tradition, but it is one that needs to be discussed and developed.  

Yes, I have started a new company with Peter Wang.  However, most of the people on this list will probably be most interested in the NumFOCUS work.   The goal of the Foundation is to promote the entire Scientific Computing with Python ecosystem.     It will not be taking over any of the public mailing lists where there is already a great deal of opportunity to express opinions and desires.     The Foundation will have it's own public mailing list where mostly financial and funding matters that are common to all of the projects can be sent and discussed.   Go here and sign up for the public mailing list if you are interested in the Foundation:  http://groups.google.com/group/numfocus?hl=en

We will be discussing the Foundation at PyCon as well.  

> 
> "This may also mean different business models and licensing around
> some of the NumPy-related code that the company writes."
> 
> Obviously your company will need to make enough money to cover your
> salaries and more.  There is huge potential here for clashes of
> interest, and for perceived clashes of interest.  The perceived
> clashes are just as damaging as the actual clashes.

Perceptions can be damaging.   This is one of the big reasons for the organization of the Foundation -- to be a place separate from any commercial venture which can direct resources to a vision whose goal is more democratically determined.    I trust that people will observe results and come to expect good things that will naturally emerge by having more talented people involved in the process who are being directed by the community needs. 

> 
> I still don't think we've got a "Numpy steering group".  The
> combination of the huge concentration of numpy resources in your
> company, and a lack of explicit community governance, seems to me to
> be something that needs to be fixed urgently.  Do you agree?

I'm sensitive to the perception that some might have that Continuum might "hi-jack" NumPy.     That is the central reason I am very supportive of and pushing the organization of NumFOCUS.   I want corporate dollars that flow to NumPy to have some buffering between the money that is being spent and what is promoted.   This can be a delicate situation, but I think it can also work well.  RedHat, IBM, and Google all cooperate to make Linux better through the Linux Foundation.   The same needs to be the case with NumPy.   This will depend, of course, on everybody on this list and they way they receive new input and the way they communicate with each other.  

I think we do have a NumPy steering group if you want to call it that.     It is currently me, Mark Wiebe, and Charles Harris.    Rolf Gommers, Pauli Virtanen, David Cournapeau and Robert Kern also have opinions that carry significant weight.    Are there other people that should be on this list?    There are other people who also speak up on this list whose opinions will be listened to and heard.   In fact, I hope that many more people will come to the list and speak out as development increases.    

I think many of the people who have been carrying NumPy along for the past few years really have their hearts and minds on SciPy.   I would like to unburden Ralf, David, and Robert, for example to continue their work on making SciPy a better package.    Working on both NumPy and SciPy is too big of a job for one person.   I am very aware of this.   

I agree whole-heartedly with what might be an implied concern of your previous statement.  I absolutely don't want Continuum to be the only voice driving NumPy.    It is a long-term concern for me.    In the short-term, Mark and I are both driving NumPy and both at Continuum.    This might be an issue for some.   I do not believe it will be.   Mark and I are quite different in our perspectives and we have and will continue to disagree appropriately for the benefit of the project as a whole.   

I really don't see a problem over the next few months, but time will tell.   If for some reason, it changes, I'm sure there will be people speaking out --- and I would encourage it. 

> 
> Is there any reason why the numfocus group was formed without obvious
> public discussion about it's composition, remit or governance?   I'm
> not objecting to it's composition, but I think it is a mistake to make
> large decisions like this without public consultation.

There is probably some misunderstanding here.  NumFOCUS is a "funding body".  It's goal is to get money for sprints, code-grants, bounties, etc. to other projects that maintain their independence.     Whether it becomes more than that over time really depends on who participates in it.   I believe the discussions were public --- just not on this list.   Some discussions have not been, but that is the nature of any organization -- and also the fact that it is higher band-width to talk face-to-face.   That's why we have conferences, and meetings, and sprints. 

> 
> I imagine that what happened was that things moved too fast to make it
> attractive to slow the process by public discussion.   I implore you
> to slow down and commit yourself  to have that discussion in full and
> in public, in the interests of the common ownership of the project

There will be plenty of time for public discussion about the NumPy project.    Nothing is changing there.    I apologize if I have implied I see this otherwise.   Anything that happens with NumPy the project will happen in the full light of this list.   What  Continuum does on top of that will be separate.   My goal is to continue to improve the NumPy / SciPy ecosystem.  That has been my goal and desire for 14 years.   Nothing has changed except my circumstances and ability to contribute in multiple ways that is different now than it has been in the past.  

What has also changed is that I now have a much clearer picture of where NumPy can and should be.   After watching it grow and get used by multiple large organizations --- and get pushed up against its limitations, and get under-utilized in certain corners, I have seen what NumPy can be.   It could help a lot of people --- I mean *a lot* of people.    To realize what NumPy could be, there is a lot of work that needs to get done.   This is very exciting to think about and to work on.   

I hope that you will be patient with me as it will take me time to write up every thing that NumPy needs.   I plan to take that time.    Mark Wiebe is also doing a lot of writing and will be presenting his ideas to this list.   This is a project that will take a few man years not man months.    Not all of this will end up in NumPy 1.8.    We are geared up for the long haul.   Consistent contributions is what we will be providing for several months --- to the benefit of all involved.  

NumFOCUS will have it's own pace and its own discussion as it serves a different purpose.  It's organization and mission will also be open to public comments and discussion on it's own list.   The discussion there is very early stages, still.   There is plenty of time to jump in and comment.   Here's the link again: 
http://groups.google.com/group/numfocus?hl=en

Best regards, 

-Travis


> .
> 
> Best,
> 
> Matthew
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