Reflecting on SciPy Conference 2018

Looking back about six months ago, the weather was a lot warmer especially in Austin, Texas where over 700 scientific Python enthusiasts converged for SciPy 2018. Hameer Abbasi is one of Quansight’s scientific software developers who had the opportunity to attend the conference.

Each year, the SciPy conference is held to showcase the latest research and tools surrounding scientific Python, learn from developers, and collaborate on development. This opportunity for collaboration has gone a long way towards promoting greater synergy amongst community members. The conference has served as a catalyst for the global movement, within many fields of science and industry, to embrace the potential of Python for data science.

Speakers gathered from all over the world, representing such organizations as NASA, Google, the University of Paris. Some speakers even came from organizations as far away as the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute. There were tutorials on NumPy, PyViz, and Dask among many others. Many subjects centered on the practical applications of this software, one example was from the NASA engineer who talked about how scientific Python helped with the discovery of gravitational waves. From this impressive collection of topics and speaker, one that stood out was given by Ralf Gommers on SciPy 1.0 and included a shoutout to Hameer’s work with PyData/Sparse. Encouragement amongst these community leaders goes a long way towards encouraging and promoting a productive and positive environment where new developments become more frequent. Collaboration and encouragement have become a highlight of these events.

As more programmers work remotely, these events present an opportunity to bring the community physically together. Hameer was able to meet many of these contributors in person for the first time, some of whom he had interacted before only over the internet: Matthew Rocklin who works on Dask, Stephan Hoyer from Google who works on XArray, Stefan van der Walt, and Matti Picus and Tyler Reddy who work on NumPy at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science. The conference also gave Hameer the chance to finally meet Travis Oliphant and Doug Pennock from his team at Quansight.

Hameer gives high praise to the event, and said, “I definitely would encourage others to join SciPy, it was a really fun experience.” Consider taking a trip to Austin next year to be a part of this international community conference and expand your knowledge in scientific computing in python. Registration for 2019 opens on February 4th, and the website with details can be found here.

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