[SciPy-dev] SciPy Foundation

Joe Harrington jh@physics.ucf....
Sat Aug 1 11:20:17 CDT 2009


Dag wrote:
> I have seen email threads asking
> what the SciPy goal is, without any clear resolution (?).

How's this for a goal/mission statement (for SciPy, IDL, and Matlab):

(The toolstack) is a professional-quality numerical computation and
visualization environment that supports convenient handling of
numerical arrays, provides a rich set of basic tools and algorithms
for science and engineering, and supports a variety of both general
and discipline-specific application software.  It is easy for
numerically savvy teens to learn, but rich enough to support the most
complex of professional applications.  It can be run both
non-interactively and interactively, with the latter featuring both
GUI and rich command-line interfaces.  It comes with full
documentation, is easy to install and run on all popular platforms,
has a strong online user community spanning all disciplines, and has
commercial support and consulting.

For SciPy, I'd replace the part after the last comma with "is free and
open-source, supports cloud computing, and has options for commercial
user support and consulting."  One could add to the list of general
features, such as symbolic manipulation, parallel processing, etc.,
but it's already getting long.

For SciPy, some of this, of course, is not yet true, which is the
point of the current thread.

Another way of looking at it:

For me, SciPy is a replacement for IDL that improves on it in some
areas.  No more, but no less.  That doesn't say what it *is*, since it
just begs the question, "what is IDL", but it does identify the space
I'd like to see SciPy occupy.  It occupies most of the space IDL
occupied for me now, except for a few crucial areas.  The main one is
that enough of my colleagues use it that I can exchange codes with
them.  A code written in an interpreted language that your colleague
does not use is not useful to them.  If it's not useful to them, then
the interest in your contribution is that much smaller.  So, my goal
is to make SciPy (the toolstack, not the package) *to them* be what
IDL is to them today.  That is a lot more than what IDL is to me,
since I have more of a knack for computers than most of my colleagues.
They need a one-touch install, hold-your-hand docs, GUIs, and so
forth.  They are also less interested in the linguistic improvements
of Python over IDL.  Or, they are until they really get coding, which
is long after they make the decision to give it a spin.  This is a
good thing in a way, since it means that once they try it, they
*really* like it.  Most current SciPy users, I think, are savvy enough
about computers that we can work around the shortcomings, but the next
round of adopters will always be less savvy than the last, on the
whole, hence the need for better and lower-level docs, professional
packaging on all platforms, etc.

--jh--


More information about the Scipy-dev mailing list