[SciPy-dev] SciPy Foundation

David Goldsmith d_l_goldsmith@yahoo....
Sun Aug 2 17:22:56 CDT 2009

Not wishing to turn this into a mutual admiration society, but "+10" vis-a-vis everything Neil said! ;-)


PS: I do feel, however, that a UI as rich as Neil implies, though such should be wholly supported both materially and "in spirit" by whatever entity takes responsibility for SciPy, such a UI should be "separable" from the SciPy "core," so that the latter is deliverable both with a "rich" UI and a "serviceable" UI.

--- On Sun, 8/2/09, Neil Martinsen-Burrell <nmb@wartburg.edu> wrote:

> From: Neil Martinsen-Burrell <nmb@wartburg.edu>
> Subject: Re: [SciPy-dev] SciPy Foundation
> To: "SciPy Developers List" <scipy-dev@scipy.org>
> Date: Sunday, August 2, 2009, 1:44 PM
> On 08/02/2009 01:58 PM, David
> Goldsmith wrote:
> >> I don't think that Joe and I are that far apart
> either. My point
> >> (very badly formulated) was that trying to make
> scipy be a
> >> replacement for IDL or matlab is in my opinion not
> the right goal.
> >> IDL in particular has a lot of field specific code
> available in it.
> >> I would like to see a structure where scipy
> provides the
> >> underlaying code needed by many fields (like the
> Numerical Recipes
> >> codes) but stay away from providing field specific
> code. Also
> >> scipy should not venture into GUI or provide an
> interactive
> >> environment like IDL (there are other packages
> that provide this).
> >>
> >> Just my opinion Tommy Grav
> >
> > OK, that helps. :-)
> >
> > Fine goal (between the two, I choose to remain neutral
> for now), but
> > one comment: you say avoid a GUI, but the kind of
> "tool set" you
> > describe would greatly benefit from (dare I say
> require) some sort of
> > UI that makes it "easy" for the uninitiated (at the
> very least) to
> > find the specific resources they need; IMO, for
> example, the UI
> > LAPACK provides for this is a good example of how
> *not* to do it.
> This may be an instrumentality on the way to the "Goal of
> Scipy" 
> (whatever that is) but I wanted to mention here the
> importance of 
> reaching students with SciPy.  Software vendors know
> this: if a student 
> learns about a certain type of computing using your
> software, then they 
> are likely to continue using your software throughout their
> career. 
> Matlab has been stupendously good at this sort of marketing
> in 
> engineering schools, where learning Matlab is seen by some
> as a 
> *required* part of the curriculum, due to its industry
> dominance.
> Apropos of David's point about the relevance of a GUI, I
> think that in 
> addition to the packaging, documentation and communication
> aspects of 
> Joe's plan, an easy-to-install environment for interactive
> computation 
> is important for teaching students with SciPy.  When I
> taught an 
> undergraduate class on Markov chains using numpy and scipy,
> it was hard 
> for students to install scipy.  Once they had it
> installed, they were 
> able to be moderately productive in IDLE, but they missed
> some of the 
> features of IPython (command completion, saved inputs and
> output).  An 
> interactive Python environment that allowed access to
> documentation, an 
> editor and a rich interpreter would have made the uptake
> much easier for 
> students.
> In the past, Alan has spoken strongly about the importance
> of the matrix 
> class for teaching linear algebra and I want to echo his
> message about 
> the importance of pedagogical usability for the continued
> adoption of 
> the SciPy stack.  Students who start using software in
> their classes 
> will continue using that software throughout their careers,
> particularly 
> so for something such as SciPy which has some significant
> advantages 
> over its better-known competitors.  I think that there
> is a tendency for 
> active researchers to underestimate the importance of 
> undergraduate-level learning and I hope that in this
> discussion, we will 
> keep in mind the singular importance of that young
> audience.
> -Neil
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