[SciPy-dev] SciPy Foundation

Robert Kern robert.kern@gmail....
Tue Aug 4 14:37:01 CDT 2009

On Tue, Aug 4, 2009 at 13:53, David Goldsmith<d_l_goldsmith@yahoo.com> wrote:
> At this point I think the question becomes: do we let the (clear) fact that there is not a single set of priorities for where SciPy should be headed (which I do not see as a bad thing at this stage) get in the way of the community moving on *some* proposal (e.g., Joe's, with mods) for *some* "not-for-profit entity" (e.g., a "SciPy Foundation," the original topic of this thread) that will function as an institutional resource for furthering whichever priorities for SciPy should bubble to the surface?  In other words, this thread is diverging (into territory necessary to discuss, yes), but can we at least agree (a semi-rhetorical question because I think the answer is clearly "yes") that something along the lines of a "SciPy Foundation" would be useful, certainly for helping us move SciPy where we want it to go, but perhaps also for helping us decide where as well?

Perhaps a new name would be in order. I think a lot of the
disagreement in vision arises from the fact that a number of the very
good ideas about how to encourage the use of Python in the sciences,
which could be implemented by the people involved in
SciPy-the-project, are being conflated with scipy-the-package. Things
like IDEs and GUIs and applications do not fit into scipy-the-package
as it currently exists, and changing scipy-the-package such that they
do fit in deteriorates what scipy-the-package is good at now.

Personally, I see scipy-the-package as something very close in spirit
to what GSL is to C: a library of quality numerical algorithms useful
to science and engineering. scipy-the-package is not everything that
is required to advance Python's use in the sciences. It can't be. A
single Python package is the wrong technology for delivering all of
that functionality.

I think we need to step back and question the question itself. Perhaps
we should not be asking "where should scipy(-the-package) be heading?"
but "what do we need to do advance Python's use in the sciences?" I
don't think a Foundation helps the former much, but I do think the
latter would be an excellent mission for one. scipy-the-package is a
component of what the Foundation might work one, but I think it would
make a huge mistake if it fixated on scipy-the-package and assumed
that all of the work it does needs to be jammed into

Robert Kern

"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless
enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as
though it had an underlying truth."
  -- Umberto Eco

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