Category Archives: people

Perspectives in Research Software Special Session at AAS 229

Special Session: Perspectives in Research Software: Education, Funding, Reproducibility, Citation, and Impact
10:00 am – 11:30 am
Grapevine 2

The Moore-Sloan Data Science Environment at NYU and the ASCL have organized a Special Session at January’s AAS. The session, Perspectives in Research Software: Education, Funding, Reproducibility, Citation, and Impact, will be moderated by Bruce Berriman (IPAC, Caltech/Astronomy Computing Today). The session will feature short presentations and will include a discussion period with the floor open for questions and comments, and maybe even a few answers, too. The topics and presenters are :

Tracy Teal (Data Carpentry), Software not as a service
Michael Hucka (Caltech), Finding the right wheel when you don’t want to reinvent it
Lior Shamir (LTU), Reproducibility and reusability of scientific software
Ivelina Momcheva (STScI), Funding research software development
Heather Piwowar (ImpactStory), Capturing the impact of software
David W. Hogg (NYU), The relationships between software publications and software systems
Alice Allen (ASCL), Update on research software citation efforts

That last speaker looks a wee bit dodgy, but the moderator and other panelists are aces! And you, software authors and users, are as always important participants in the discussion. I hope to see you there!

ASCL Advisory Committee changes

Earlier this month, Robert Hanisch stepped down as an adviser on the ASCL’s Advisory Committee (AC); we are grateful for his service to the ASCL and thank him for his assistance.

Thomas Robitaille from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) has joined the AC. He brings with him a wealth of experience as a software author, having developed Hyperion and APLpy; he’s also work on Glue and AstroPy and other astronomy software. We are delighted to have his input!

ADASS opens this evening with a welcome reception

The 24th Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems (ADASS) meeting starts this evening at the Westin Hotel in Calgary, Canada. Talks start tomorrow afternoon; the opening sessions are focused on Big Data Challenges, which is such a big topic it has to be continued on Monday morning.

Though the ASCL editors are not attending ADASS this year, most of the Advisory Committee is (Peter Teuben, Bruce Berriman, Bob Hanisch, Jessica Mink, Keith Shortridge, and Mark Taylor) and Bob Hanisch has a poster on the ASCL’s recent changes to hang.

You can follow ADASS on Twitter , and tomorrow, we’ll post the ASCL poster here.


When Alice asked me if I’d like to present a poster at this year’s ADASS I jumped at the chance: After all, it was Alice’s poster and presentation at ADASS XXI that prompted me to volunteer for ASCL. Also, I don’t often get the opportunity to exercise my creative side, and what better way to give it a workout than to create a poster that will be seen by millions (ok, hundreds) of people. However once I started working on the poster I realized that my creative side had atrophied a bit due to disuse. With Alice’s coaching (“You know you can use more than one color!”) I managed to pull together a poster that I hope you find informative and eye-catching without being too wordy. If I’m really lucky I might even be able to snare another ASCL volunteer.



The ASCL is participating in ADASS in the following ways:

Not going to ADASS but want to participate in the BoF session? We’d love to have your input and ideas. We’ll be running a Twitter feed running throughout the BoF  (follow @asclnet). What else might work for you?

Astrophysics Code Sharing II: The Sequel at the January 2014 AAS meeting

The ASCL, along with the AAS’s Working Group on Astronomical Software (WGAS), is coordinating a Special Session at the January 2014 AAS meeting. This session is scheduled for 2:00 PM on January 7, and will feature case studies on code release for AstroPy, Montage, and Cloudy in addition to talks on the state of code sharing and funding agencies’ policies.

The session will be moderated by Peter Teuben and Robert Hanisch; the speakers for this session are:

G. Bruce Berriman, NExScI, PAC, Caltech
Gary J. Ferland, University of Kentucky
David W. Hogg, New York University
Daniel S. Katz, National Science Foundation
Erik J. Tollerud, Yale University
Benjamin J. Weiner, University of Arizona

After the presentations, the floor will be opened for discussion on ways to encourage code sharing to improve the transparency and efficiency of research and mitigate the negative aspects of releasing code.


Finding codes and Russian nesting dolls

As those familiar with the ASCL know, those working on it take an active approach to sharing astrophysical source code, ferreting out codes, looking for their download sites, and creating entries for them in the ASCL. We welcome and indeed (enthusiastically!) encourage code authors to create entries for their codes, but most of the indexing of codes is currently done by ASCL associate editor Kim DuPrie and me.

I regularly read through pre-prints looking for mention of codes not yet indexed by the ASCL; Advisory Committee Chairman Peter Teuben does the same. He has access to publications I cannot get to, such as MNRAS, and looks there for codes as well. A paper may yield a code new to the ASCL, and sometimes, a paper will reveal what Peter and I refer to as Russian dolls: the deeper we get into a paper, the more codes it reveals. One paper he sent to me recently revealed 37 (!) codes, only 5 of which the ASCL had indexed. Thirty-two new codes to try to find!

Russian nesting dollsOther times, a paper will mention two or three or more codes which lead us to other papers which mention yet more codes, which lead us to papers which mention even more codes… and though the ASCL indexes over 600 codes, there are still hundreds, probably thousands, out there it hasn’t indexed, so some of these more more MORE codes that we come across also need to be found. Like Russian nesting dolls, the codes go on and on and on.

It’s times like that — finding 32 new codes in just one paper! peeling back layers and layers of new codes! — I wish I could work on the ASCL full-time. Well, also the times I look at the list we’d already compiled (a list I stopped adding to over a year ago) of ~ 200 codes to find. Also the times I look at the list of things still to be done for/on/about the ASCL beyond indexing new codes.

So many codes, so little time to spend on them, alas!

Two new members join the Advisory Committee

Keith Shortridge at the Australian Astronomical Observatory and Mark Taylor at the University of Bristol (UK) have graciously agreed to serve on the ASCL’s Advisory Committee.

Dr. Shortridge has written data reduction and data acquisition software throughout his career. He has an increasing interest in the way software is developed and in communication in the astronomical software field, and is associated with the AstroShare project. He wrote the Figaro data reduction system for Palomar early in his career, and his software AAOGlimpse was presented at the XXI ADASS conference.

Dr. Taylor has been writing astronomical software since 1998. His work has focused on processing catalogs of astronomical objects (galaxies and stars), particularly in the context of the emerging Virtual Observatory. He has worked on Starlink, AstroGrid, Euro-VOTech and the German Astrophysical Virtual Observatory, and is the author of several widely-used tools, including the interactive graphical viewer and tabular data editor TOPCAT.