Category Archives: software licensing

ADASS 2020 in the time of pandemic

Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems (ADASS), which was to have been in Granada, Spain this year, kicked off the fully online ADASS XXX meeting yesterday with four tutorials, as is usually done, though not quite like it was done this year. The Programming Organizing Committee and especially the Local Organizing Committee had to convert a conference that had been two years in the planning to a virtual meeting. This offered numerous challenges and learning opportunities! One challenge is that the conference is international; scheduling sessions for access to all participants couldn’t have been easy, but with the technology stack they chose, which includes the conference website, Zoom, YouTube, and Discord, and hard work, all of ADASS’s resources are available to all participants. One might have to get up early or stay up late to hear all of the talks live — the sleep-deprived author of this post awoke at 12:15 AM today to catch the opening sessions — but there are asynchronous options available, so groggy stumbling as one makes her way to the computer is a choice, not a requirement.

The ASCL has several presentations and activities this year. ASCL Chair Peter Teuben, ASCL Advisory Committee member Bruce Berriman, and I organized a Birds of a Feather (BoF) session on How to better describe software for discovery and citation today. We have organized BoFs focused on some aspect of software in the past, and, as in the past, this BoF offered a number of very short presentations and then open discussion.

The BoF session focused on software metadata, to improve how software is described and can be discovered and cited. After Teuben opened the session, Berriman presented his experience with using CiteAs to see how it suggested his software Montage be cited. CiteAs uses numerous ways to find a code’s citation method, including looking for metadata files — specific files that contain metadata for the software — on the code’s website and/or GitHub repository. Montage does not currently have a metadata file on its sites, so the citation method CiteAs suggested was not as robust as it could have been. The results of the search and its provenance are shown in the BoF’s slides, which can be downloaded at a link below.

This led nicely into my short talk on metadata files and how the ASCL can create a metadata file from an ASCL entry. The files the ASCL creates programmatically, codemeta.json and CITATION.cff, are intended to be starting points and contain placeholders for data the ASCL does not capture, but which we feel should be included in the metadata file; we encourage software authors to edit these files before they are placed on one’s code site.

Yan Grange, who had organized an earlier BoF on Best licensing practices, presented a summary of the session and the results of two of the several polls taken during that BoF.  Providing a license for your software is vitally important, as it lets others know what they can and cannot do with your software. Resources and other information from the earlier BoF are available online, and Grange’s summary slides for our software metadata BoF are included in the slides file below.

Teuben presented on several related topics: expanding or deepening a codemeta file with “API” information, the Unified Astronomy Thesaurus (UAT) and keywords, and the possibility of taking a software census at a niche science meeting. For this latter, he would like to take a well-defined field in astrophysics and have members of that community take an inventory of the software used and categorize it. He thinks a conference would be an ideal event for getting all the stakeholders together, and has identified a possible candidate conference for this activity.

The floor, if there can be a floor in a virtual meeting, was then open for comments, questions, answers and ideas, though discussion had already started in the Discord channel. One outcome of this session was that before the end of it, several participants had added metadata files to code repositories!

All slides for this session are in the PDF file below. If you would like more information about the session, please let us know in the comments section below, pinging us at ADASS if you are participating in the meeting, or by emailing me at

Slides (PDF)

ASCL at the AAS231 Hack Together Day

The ASCL was well-represented at the AAS 231 Hack Together Day on Friday, January 12, with Advisory Committee Chairman Peter Teuben working on two hacks, one of which hopes to provide better guidance regarding software to reviewers, dashboard developer PW Ryan also working on two hacks, both related to the ASCL and research we’re conducting, and yours truly; I mostly worked on ASCL tasks that have been backlogged, such as adding preferred citation information to ASCL entries. The ASCL currently has preferred citation information listed for 25% of our entries; we will be adding this information to more records in 2018 where we can find it, though I note that many code sites do not list a preferred citation on their download sites.

For one of his hacks, Ryan grabbed all the Github links in ASCL entries, and then using a Ruby Gem that looks for licenses in Github repos, reported on the licensing information available. These results are preliminary, so please don’t take them as gospel, but it appears that a whopping 34% of these codes do not have licensing information in the repo. The most popular license is MIT, which does not surprise me, as Daniel Foreman-Mackey reported in the Special Session we held at AAS 225 that MIT was the popular license across all Github repos that have licensing info.

Licensing Astrophysics Codes session at AAS 225

On Tuesday, January 6, the ASCL, AAS Working Group on Astronomical Software (WGAS), and the Moore-Sloan Data Science Environment at NYU sponsored a special session on software licenses, with support from the AAS. This subject was suggested as a topic of interest in the Astrophysics Code Sharing II: The Sequel session at AAS 223.

Frossie Economou from the LSST and chair of the WGAS opened the session with a few words of welcome and stressed the importance of licensing. I gave a 90-second overview of the ASCL before turning the podium over to Alberto Accomazzi from NASA/Astronomy Data System (ADS), who introduced the panel of speakers and later moderated the open discussion (opening slides), after which Frossie again took the podium for some closing remarks. The panel of six speakers discussed different licenses and shared considerations that arise when choosing a license; they also covered institutional concerns about intellectual property, governmental restrictions on exporting codes, concerns about software beyond licensing, and information on how much software is licensed and characteristics of that software. The floor was then opened for discussion and questions.

photo of audience at licensing session

Discussion period moderated by Alberto Accomazzi

Some of the main points from each presentation are summarized below, with links to the slides used by the presenters.

    • Copy-left and Copy-right, Jacob VanderPlas (eScience institute, University of Washington)
      Jake extolled everyone to always license codes, as in the US, copyright law defaults to “all privileges retained” unless otherwise specified. He pointed out that “free software” can refer to the freedoms that are available to users of the software. He covered the major differences between BSD/MIT-style “permissive” licensing and GPL “sticky” licensing while acknowledging that the difference between them can be a contentious issue.
      slides (PDF)
    • University tech transfer perspective on software licensing, Laura L. Dorsey (Center for Commercialization, University of Washington)
      Universities care about software licenses for a variety of reasons, Laura stated, which can include limiting the university’s risk, respecting IP rights, complying with funding obligations, and retaining academic and research use rights. She also covered factors software authors may care about, among them receiving attribution, controlling the software, and making money. She reinforced the importance of licensing code and discussed the common components of a software license.
      slides (PDF)
    • Relicensing the Montage Image Mosaic Engine, G. Bruce Berriman (Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, Caltech)
      In last year’s Astrophysics Code Sharing session, Bruce had discussed the limitations of the Caltech license under which the code Montage was licensed; since then, Montage has been relicensed to a BSD 3-Clause License. Following on the heels of Laura’s discussion and serving as a case study for institutional concerns regarding software,  Bruce related the reasons for and concerns about the relicensing, and discussed working with the appropriate office at Caltech to bring about this change.
      slides (PDF)
    • Export Controls on Astrophysical Simulation Codes, Daniel Whalen (Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Heidelberg)
      image of presentation slide

      Restricted algorithms; image by Adam M. Jacobs

      Dan’s presentation covered some of the government issues that arise from research codes, including why certain codes fall under export controls; a primary reason is to prevent the development of nuclear weapons.Dan also brought up how foreign intelligence agencies collect information and what specific simulations are restricted, and stated that Federal rules are changing, but slowly.
      slides (PDF)

    • Why licensing is just the first step, Arfon M. Smith (GitHub Inc.)
      Arfon went beyond licensing in his presentation to discuss open source and open collaborations, and how GitHub delivers on a “theoretical promise of open source.” He shared statistics on the growth of collaborative coding using GitHub, and demonstrated how a collaborative coding process can work and pointed out that through this exposed process, community knowledge is increased and shared. He challenged the audience to contemplate the many reasons for releasing a project and to ask themselves what kind of project they want to create.
      slides (PDF)
    • Licenses in the wild, Daniel Foreman-Mackey (New York University)
      First, I have to note that Dan made it through 41 slides in just over the six minutes allotted for his talk, covering about seven slides/minute; I don’t know whether to be more impressed with his presentation skills or the audience’s information-intake abilities!

      17% of GitHub repositories examined are licensed

      Percentage of licensed GitHub repos; image by Arfon Smith

      After declaring that he knows nothing about licensing, Dan showed us, and how, that he knows plenty about mining data and extracting information from it. From his “random” selection of 1.6 million GitHub repositories, he noted with some glee that 63 languages are more popular on GitHub than IDL is, the number of repositories with licenses have increased since 2012 to 17%, and that only 28,972 of the 1.6 million mentioned the license in the README file. Dan also determined the popularity of various licenses overall and by language and shared that information as well.
      slides (PDF)

Open Discussion
After Dan’s presentation, Alberto Accomazzi opened the floor for discussion. Takeaway points included:

  • Discuss licensing with your institution; it’s likely there is an office/personnel devoted to deal with these issues
  • This office is likely very familiar with issues you bring to it, including who to refer you to when the issues are outside their purview
  • “Friends don’t let friends write their own licenses.” IOW, select an existing license rather than writing your own
  • License your code
  • Let others know how you want your code cited/acknowledged

My thanks to David W. Hogg, Kelle Cruz, Matt Turk, and Peter Teuben for work — which started last March! — on developing the session, to Alberto for his excellent moderating and to Frossie for opening and closing it. My thanks also to the wonderful Jake, Laura, Bruce, Dan W, Arfon, and Dan F-M for presenting at this session, and to the Moore-Sloan Data Science Environment at NYU and AAS for their sponsorship.

Many resources on licensing, including excellent posts by Jake and Bruce, can be found here.

Software licensing resources

Below, a list of informative, interesting (or both!) writings about software licensing; the ASCL doesn’t necessarily agree with all positions in these articles, but we want to know what people are thinking even when we don’t agree with them.

EUDAT License Wizard

A Quick Guide to Software Licensing for the Scientist-Programmer
By Andrew Morin, Jennifer Urban, Piotr Sliz

Relicensing yt from GPLv3 to BSD
By Matthew Turk

Best Practices for Scientific Computing
Greg Wilson, D. A. Aruliah, C. Titus Brown, Neil P. Chue Hong, Matt Davis, Richard T. Guy, Steven H. D. Haddock, Katy Huff, Ian M. Mitchell, Mark Plumbley, Ben Waugh, Ethan P. White, Paul Wilson

The Whys and Hows of Licensing Scientific Code
By Jake VanderPlas

Licensing your code
ASCL blog post lists the following:

Making Sense of Software Licensing
Choose a license
Open Source Initiative also offers information on licenses
White paper from the Software Freedom Law Center
Bruce Berriman’s post on relicensing Montage

The Gentle Art of Muddying the Licensing Waters
by Glyn Moody

STM open license suggestions and aftermath

Open Access Licensing
Don’t Muddy the “Open” Waters: SPARC Joins Call for STM Association to Rethink New Licenses
Global Coalition of Access to Research, Science and Education Organizations calls on STM to Withdraw New Model Licenses
STM response to ‘Global Coalition of Access to Research, Science and Education Organisations calls on STM to Withdraw New Model Licenses’
New “open” licenses aren’t so open

Interesting talk on ITAR
Discusses dual-use technologies, which is what codes are under ITAR. These are governed by the Wassenaar Arrangement. The countries that participate meet 3x/year to decide what restrictions to put on dual-use technologies. Dr. James Harrington was the speaker. Slides available on that page.

AAS225 software events

Software is an integral part of astronomy research and the American Astronomical Society meetings reflect this. The upcoming AAS meeting in Seattle (January 4-8) offers workshops, sessions, posters, tutorials, and discussions that focus on many aspects of astronomical software. On Tuesday, join us for a special session on code licensing; immediately after, the inaugural meeting of the Software Publishing Special Interest Group will be held. On Thursday, the wildly successful and fun Hack Day returns. Hack Day includes but is not limited to hacking software; whatever skills you have or project you want to take on, there’s a place for you at Hack Day!

Organized by day, below is a list of software-related offerings at the AAS meeting. See you there!


Software Carpentry Bootcamp, Saturday-Sunday, 9:00-5:30, organized by August Muench
Computing is now an integral part of every aspect of science, but most scientists are never taught how to build, use, validate, and share software well. As a result, many spend hours or days doing things badly that could be done well in just a few minutes. The goal of AAS 225 Software Carpentry 2 day “bootcamp” is to change that so that astronomers can spend less time wrestling with software and more time doing useful research. Further, good quality, well tested code means science results are easier to verify, share, and update. More information on the Software Carpentry project can be found <>. The AAS 225 Software Carpentry bootcamp consists of short tutorials alternating with hands-on practical exercises and will cover the core software skills needed build, use, validate, and share software in astronomy: Saturday’s tutorials will comprise shell automation, basic python programming, and unit testing; Sunday’s sessions will shift to focus on advanced python, including numerical and astronomy oriented computing, and version control. Registration is for both days. The target audience for the bootcamp consists of graduate students and early career scientists. The Software Carpentry @ AAS 225 Bootcamp will be run by a set of three certified instructors and a team of helpers. Participants will be required to bring laptops and to install software in advance of the workshop. Some basic familiarity with shell based computing was assumed in setting the bootcamp schedule. See also a FAQ at for more information.
Event Type: Workshop
Organizer: August A. Muench
Location: 609 (Convention Center)


Software Carpentry Bootcamp, 9:00-5:00, Day 2; see description above

Astropy Tutorial, Sunday, 8:00-11:00, organized by Perry Greenfield
This tutorial will cover the features and capabilities of Astropy and affiliated packages.
Event Type: Splinter Meeting
Organizer: Perry Greenfield
Location: 612 (Convention Center)

SciCoder@AAS: Intro to Databases for Astronomers, Sunday, 9:00-5:00, organized by Demitri Muna
The volume of data available to astronomers today is enormous. The standard pattern of working with flat files doesn’t scale to what’s available now, let alone with the increasing amount of data that is coming. Every astronomer should have the skills to work with databases both for their own data sets and what is publicly available. This workshop will teach how a database is designed, how to create your own, how to populate it with data, how to query that data, how to work with other databases, and how to write scripts against a database. Exercises and examples will be geared to astronomical data but will be applicable to nearly any data. Participants should have a basic comfort level with Python and will be required to install some software on their laptops before the workshop. The workshop will be presented by Demitri Muna (Ohio State University), creator of the SciCoder workshop, and Alex Hagen (Pennsylvania State University).
Event Type: Workshop
Organizer: Demitri Muna
Location: 607 (Convention Center)

Astrostatistics, Sunday, 9:30-6:00, organized by Eric Feigelson
The fields of astronomy and statistics diverged in the 20th century so that astronomers are often not well informed about the wealth of powerful modern methodologies developed by statisticians. Statistics is needed for: characterizing astronomical images, spectra and lightcurves; inferring properties of underlying populations from limited samples; linking astronomical observations to astrophysical theories; and many other aspects of data and science analysis. An additional difficulty has been the inaccessibility of software implementing modern statistical methods for most astronomers. Fortunately, a large, integrated and user-friendly public domain software system has emerged in recent years to implement modern methods. R with its >5000 add-on CRAN packages has >100,000 statistical functionalities, extensive graphics, links to other languages, and more. Over 100 recipe books and extensive on-line support provide guidance for the sophisticated R user. The AAS astrostatistics tutorials are presented by astronomer Eric D. Feigelson and statistician G. Jogesh Babu, authors of the textbook `Modern Statistical Methods for Astronomy with R Applications’ that won the PROSE Award for best astronomy book of 2012. Participants should bring laptops with R installed ( R scripts and astronomical datasets will be provided. Schedule for Sunday January 4: 9:30-10:30 Introduction to astrostatistics (lecture) 10:30-11:30 Fundamentals of statistical inference (lecture) 11:30-12:30 Introduction to R (tutorial) — Lunch (not provided) — 2:00-3:00 Density estimation or data smoothing (tutorial) 3:00-4:00 Fitting models to data (lecture) 4:00-5:00 Multivariate clustering and classification (tutorial)
Event Type: Workshop
Organizer: Eric Feigelson
Location: 618/619 (Convention Center)

Collaborating Online with GitHub and Other Tools, Sunday, 12:00-5:00, organized by August Muench
Distributed collaboration is a hallmark of modern international astronomical research. We collaborate on everything from software development to paper and grant writing to sharing new results, plots, and data files. The goal of this workshop to provide new tools and techniques for productive efficient collaboration online. This workshop will begin with a hands on tutorial of GitHub. This will include reviewing distributed version control systems and learning collaboration workflows using the GitHub system. During the second part of the workshop we will explore an array of other online tools, ranging from cloud storage (DropBox, Google Drive) to collaborative document creation (Google Documents, online LaTeX editors) to feature tracking platforms (Trello, Jira) and much more. We intend to provide concrete workflows and to imbue you with tips and tricks for using these online tools in your research groups. The target audience for the workshop consists of astronomers at all points in their careers. Presenters will include Arfon Smith <>, PhD Astronomer turned Zooniverse developer turned Github Science head, Brent Beer, a GitHub Trainer, and August Muench (Smithsonian). Participants will be required to bring laptops and to install software in advance of the workshop. Familiarity with git or other version control systems is not a prerequisite.
Event Type: Workshop
Organizer: August A. Muench
Location: 303 (Convention Center)


232. Licensing Astrophysics Codes: What You Need to Know, Tuesday, 2:00-3:30
Research in astronomy is increasingly dependent on software methods and astronomers are increasingly required to share their codes; those who write software need to choose a license that delineates whether, when and how others may use and extend this software. Building on comments and questions about licensing in the January 2014 AAS special session “Astrophysics Code Sharing II: The Sequel”, this session, organized by the Astrophysics Source Code Library (ASCL) and AAS’s Working Group on Astronomical Software (WGAS), and the Moore-Sloan Data Science Environment, explores why providing an explicit license for software is important, explains different common licenses, examines intellectual property concerns common to universities, and provides information on restrictions that arise from ITAR. A panel of speakers will discuss code licensing, share considerations that arise when choosing a license, and benefits of the licenses they chose. Institutional and governmental concerns about intellectual property, its licensing, use, and release, will also be covered. The floor will then be open for discussion and questions.
Session Type: Special Session
Organizer: Alice Allen
Chair: Frossie Economou
Moderator: Alberto Accomazzi
Location: 615 (Convention Center)

232.01. Copy-left and Copy-right, Jacob VanderPlas
232.02. University tech transfer perspective on software licensing, Laura Dorsey
232.03. Relicensing the Montage Image Mosaic Engine, G. B. Berriman
232.04. Export Controls on Astrophysical Simulation Codes, Daniel Whalen
232.05. Why licensing is just the first step, Arfon M. Smith
232.06. Licenses in the wild, Daniel Foreman-Mackey
Open Discussion
moderated by Alberto Accomazzi

Software Publication Special Interest Group (SPSIG) Inaugural Meeting, Tuesday, 3:45-4:45
This first meeting of the to-be-formed-at-AAS225 Software Publication Special Interest Group (SPSIG) is open to all interested parties. The main topic of discussion at this meeting will be software citation.
Session Type: Special Interest Group meeting
Organizer: Alice Allen
Location: 615 (Convention Center)


Catalogs, Surveys, and Computation Posters, Wednesday, 9:00-5:30

336.34. A Pipeline for High Resolution Radio Images
Brianna P. Thomas; Alison B. Peck; Jacqueline Hodge; Anthony J. Beasley

336.35. ADMIT: ALMA Data Mining Toolkit
Douglas N. Friedel; Lisa Xu; Leslie Looney; Peter J. Teuben; Marc W. Pound; Kevin P. Rauch; Lee G. Mundy; Jeffrey S. Kern

336.36. Overview of the SOFIA Data Processing System: A generalized system for manual and automatic data processing at the SOFIA Science Center
Ralph Shuping; Robert Krzaczek; William D. Vacca; Miguel Charcos-Llorens; William T. Reach; Rosemary Alles; Melanie Clarke; Riccardo Melchiorri; James T. Radomski; Sachindev S. Shenoy; David Sandel; Eric Omelian

336.37. A Prototype External Event Broker for LSST
Gabriella E. Alvarez; Keivan Stassun; Dan Burger; Robert Siverd; Donald Cox

336.39. Simulating Optical Surveys with the LSST Software Stack
Scott Daniel; K. S. Krughoff; Peter Yoachim; R. Lynne Jones; Yusra AlSayyad; Bryce Kalmbach; Andrew J. Connolly; Zeljko Ivezic

336.40. The LSST Metrics Analysis Framework (MAF)
R. Lynne Jones; Peter Yoachim; Srinivasan Chandrasekharan; Andrew J. Connolly; Kem H. Cook; Zeljko Ivezic; K. S. Krughoff; Catherine E. Petry; Stephen T. Ridgway

336.41. Analyzing Simulated LSST Surveys With MAF
Peter Yoachim; R. Lynne Jones; Srinivasan Chandrasekharan; Andrew J. Connolly; Kem H. Cook; Zeljko Ivezic; K. S. Krughoff; Catherine E. Petry; Stephen T. Ridgway

336.42. Building POCS: An open source observatory control system for amateur telescopes used by the PANOPTES project for the detection of extrasolar planets
Wilfred T. Gee; Josh Walawender; Mike Butterfield; Olivier Guyon; Nemanja Jovanovic

336.43. Adaptive Optics Images of the Galactic Center: Using Empirical Noise-maps to Optimize Image Analysis
Saundra Albers; Gunther Witzel; Leo Meyer; Breann Sitarski; Anna Boehle; Andrea M. Ghez

336.44. Recovering Astrophysical Signals Lost in Noise: Light Curves of Background Objects in Kepler Data
Rebecca L. Bowers; Joshua Pepper; Michael Abdul-Masih; Andrej Prsa

336.45. An Exploration Tool for Very Large Spectrum Data Sets
Duane F. Carbon; Christopher Henze

336.46. Understanding and Using the Fermi Science Tools
Joseph Asercion

336.47. Fact Checking LIGO’s Radiometer Code with Simulated LIGO Data
Samantha E. Thrush

336.48. AstroML: “better, faster, cheaper” towards state-of-the-art data mining and machine learning
Zeljko Ivezic; Andrew J. Connolly; Jacob Vanderplas

336.49. Bayesian Identification of Emission–Line Galaxies with Photometric Equivalent Widths
Andrew S. Leung; Eric J. Gawiser; Viviana Acquaviva

336.50. Statistical Computing for Galaxy Modeling and Residual Detection
Sean McLaughlin; Robert Brunner

336.51. Separating Stars and Galaxies Probabilistically Based on Color
Victoria Strait

336.52. Visualizing SPH Cataclysmic Variable Accretion Disk Simulations with Blender
Brian R. Kent; Matthew A. Wood

336.53. Computer analysis of digital sky surveys using citizen science and manual classification
Evan Kuminski; Lior Shamir

336.55. Improved Functionality and Curation Support in the ADS
Alberto Accomazzi; Michael J. Kurtz; Edwin A. Henneken; Carolyn S. Grant; Donna Thompson; Roman Chyla; Alexandra Holachek; Vladimir Sudilovsky; Stephen S. Murray

336.56. Online Activity Around Scholarly Astronomy Literature – A Discussion of Altmetrics
Edwin A. Henneken; Alberto Accomazzi; Michael J. Kurtz; Donna Thompson; Carolyn S. Grant; Stephen S. Murray

336.57. Astrophysics Source Code Library — Now even better!
Alice Allen; Judy Schmidt; Bruce Berriman; Kimberly DuPrie; Robert J. Hanisch; Jessica D. Mink; Robert J. Nemiroff; Lior Shamir; Keith Shortridge; Mark B. Taylor; Peter J. Teuben; John F. Wallin

336.59. Beyond The Prime Directive: The MAST Discovery Portal and High Level Science Products
Scott W. Fleming; Faith Abney; Tom Donaldson; Theresa Dower; Dorothy A. Fraquelli; Anton M. Koekemoer; Karen Levay; Jacob Matuskey; Brian McLean; Lee Quick; Anthony Rogers; Bernie Shiao; Randy Thompson; Shui-Ay Tseng; Geoff Wallace; Richard L. White

315 Astroinformatics and Astrostatistics in Astronomical Research: Steps Towards Better Curricula, Wednesday, 10:00-11:30
The AAS Working Group on Astroinformatics and Astrostatistics hereby proposes a Special Session for the 225th AAS meeting in Seattle which will highlight the importance of data analytics training in astronomy, both for the sake of astronomical research and in order to make astronomy graduates more employable. Although astronomy and astrophysics are witnessing dramatic increases in data volume as detectors, telescopes, and computers become ever more powerful, the traditional training of astronomy and physics students is not providing skills to handle such voluminous and complex data sets. Equally worrisome, research funds and hiring options in astronomy are diminishing; in particular, a number of candidates for permanent (or steady) jobs significantly exceeds the job availability. As a result many of astronomy graduates have transitioned out of astronomy to work in areas where their analytic skills become highly valuable. Invited talks by a recent astronomy Ph.D. graduate who transitioned to industry, and an industry representative, will critically compare academic and industrial environments.The main goals of the proposed session are to discuss ways to improve Big Data training and research in astronomy, as well as to explore the connections between data science in astronomy and in the other research or technology areas where astronomy postdocs or recent graduates could excel and compete. We will use moderated panel method to facilitate discussion of graduate curriculum at Astronomy Departments, and invited talks to highlight connections to industry.
Session Type: Special Session
Organizer: Zeljko Ivezic
Organizer: Aneta Siemiginowska
Location: 620 (Convention Center)

315.01. Working on interesting problems, Arfon M. Smith
315.02. Astronomer to Data Scientist, Jessica Kirkpatrick
Panel Discussion

The SKA Telescope: Global Project, Revolutionary Science, Extreme Computing Challenges, Wednesday, 12:30-3:30
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is one of the most awe-inspiring and audacious science and engineering projects of the 21st Century. With its hundreds of thousands of antennas spread across Africa and Australia, the SKA will have unrivalled scope in observations and is designed to address fundamental questions about the earliest stages of the Universe, such as star formation, dark energy, gravity and life itself. When fully operational in the early 2020s, the SKA will produce 10 times the data of the current global internet. Processing this vast quantity of data will require very high performance central supercomputers capable of in excess of 100 petaflops of raw processing power: about three times more powerful than the most powerful supercomputer in 2013. In addition to developing this high performance computing hardware and software capability, the project must also address the incredibly complex tasks of signal processing, data transfer, storage and curation, and data manipulation. To develop these revolutionary technologies and drive tomorrow’s groundbreaking science, effective global partnerships between governments, academia, and industry are becoming essential. With their long-standing tradition of radio astronomy, the US can bring much expertise to such global partnerships, while at the same time gaining strategic access to world-class instruments. This session will be divided in 2 parts: – Science: Through the case study of the SKA precursor telescopes MWA, ASKAP and MeerKAT, and of the first-class observatories LOFAR and JVLA, we will see how major science questions are already being touched upon, paving the way for the revolutionary capabilities of the SKA. We will finally examine how a project the scale of the SKA will push the frontiers of scientific knowledge.- Computing: The sheer amount of data collected by the SKA will drive fundamental shifts in science-driven technology with daily-life applications in the areas of data transport, data storage, high-performance computing, and algorithm design. We will first present the SKA global computing and technological challenges, and then give the floor to experts from High Performance Computing industry who will provide their views on how they aim to tackle these challenges and how the SKA is driving technology development in a number of domains.
Event Type: Splinter Meeting
Organizer: Tyler L. Bourke
Location: 4C-4 (Convention Center)

332. Catalogs/Surveys/Computation – UVOIR, Wednesday, 3:10-3:20 PM
Session Type: Oral Session
Chair: Steven A. Rodney
Location: 620 (Convention Center)

332.09. Targeted-mode pipeline for the Evryscope: a minute cadence, 10,000-square-degree FoV, gigapixel-scale telescope
Octavi Fors Aldrich; Nicholas M. Law; Philip J. Wulfken; Jeffrey Ratzloff


434. Computation, Data Handling and Other Matters Posters, Thursday, 9:00-2:00

434.01. Spherical harmonic transit analysis with PAPER
Jason Ling; Saul A. Kohn; James E. Aguirre

434.02. Time-domain Surveys and Data Shift: Case Study at the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory
Umaa Rebbapragada; Brian Bue; Przemyslaw R. Wozniak

434.03. A new ultra-fast Moving Object Discovery Engine for iPTF, ZTF, and beyond
Frank J. Masci; Adam Waszczak; Russ Laher; James M. Bauer; Thomas A. Prince; George Helou; Shrinivas R. Kulkarni

434.04. Comparing the Mass Functions of Simulated Galaxies
Nicholas Miller; Ariyeh Maller; M.K Ryan Joung; Julien Devriendt; James Bullock

434.05. A New Laboratory for MM-/Sub-MM-Wave Characterization of Cosmic Dust Analogs
Samuel Birsa; Huy Do; Frederick Williams; Lunjun Liu; Ryan Schonert; Thushara Perera

434.06. IPAC Firefly package goes open source
Xiuqin Wu; William Roby; Tatiana Goldina; Loi Ly

Hack Day, Thursday, 10:00-7:00
A day to work intensively on collaborative projects. A wide variety of projects will be undertaken and will be everything from software development and coding to creative outreach projects. Projects that take advantage of the unique gathering of enthusiasm and expertise at the Winter AAS Meeting are particularly encouraged. Hack ideas and participants will be solicited before and during the meeting. Participants can either lead a project or join a project and should plan on focusing primarily on only one hack. In addition, we ask participants to commit to hacking for the majority of the day. Registration is encouraged to facilitate pre-meeting coordination, but not required.
Event Type: Workshop
Organizer: Kelle L. Cruz
Chair: David W. Hogg
Location: 4C-2 (Convention Center)

Licensing your code

“Each developer holds copyright in his or her code the moment it is written, and because all the world’s major copyright systems—including the US after 1976—do not require notices, publishing code without a copyright notice doesn’t change this.”1

In the recent code sharing session at the AAS 223 meeting, both Alberto Accomazzi and David Hogg mentioned the difficulty of dealing with code that did not carry any license, copyright notice, nor sometimes even author information with it. Such code is difficult to share for transparency, reuse, or expansion. Letting people know whether and how they can use your code and/or share it is a kindness not just to them, but to the community and even yourself, whether you want to retain copyright on the code, choose one of the copyleft licenses, or make your code public domain.

Just beginning to think about licensing and trying to wrap your head around it? TechSoup offers a good introduction on licensing in Making Sense of Software Licensing, and I’ve previously mentioned A Quick Guide to Software Licensing for the Scientist-Programmer from PLoS in our list of general articles that may be of interest to astronomical software users.

If you already know you want an open source license for your open source software (OSS) but don’t know which to choose, the Choose a license site describes different popular open source licenses; it is a good resource for getting an overview of each of them. The Open Source Initiative also offers information on licenses and has a FAQ that is useful for clarifying such terms as copyleft, public domain, open source, and free software in addition to others one runs across when considering licensing.

Interested in retaining copyright within a collaborative free software project? This white paper from the Software Freedom Law Center identifies best practices for doing so. And if you’re thinking about changing a code’s license, you may want to read Bruce Berriman’s informative post, with plenty of resources in it, on his Astronomy Computing Today blog.

What resources have you found helpful for licensing? I am very interested in knowing, and hope you will please share them; thank you!