[IPython-dev] New Data Science Initiative, aka where has Fernando been hiding for the last year?

Nelle Varoquaux nelle.varoquaux at gmail.com
Thu Nov 14 02:29:16 EST 2013

On 14 November 2013 03:08, Bartosz <mail at telenczuk.pl> wrote:
> Thanks for the explanations and encouragement. Indeed, I hope that your
> project will open many doors  for computation science. So I keep my
> fingers crossed.
> I enjoyed your blog post a lot. I definitely agree that there is need
> to explore the frontiers of "data science". There is much talk about it,
> but I wonder how much it really differs from the data analysis most
> scientist do. Right now I would consider it a methodology rather than
> science on its own.

>From someone coming from "data analysis" / "computation" part of science,
ouch... Luckily for me, the recent nobel price in chemistry suggests that
computational sciences are beginning to be recognized as a full part of

Data analysis is nowadays one of the most important part of
fields such as biology and neuroscience because of the quantity of data
generated in those fields. Sure, biologist as most scientist do "data analysis"
but without understanding the underlying methods they use, and end up
publishing a lot of results people cannot reproduce (something like 90% of
the papers in cancer related fields cannot be reproduced). I think that
developing the "methodologies" to analyse the petabytes of data we are
generating is now the roadblock for big discoveries in science, in particularly
in health related fields, and it is important for researchers in those fields
not only to understand they need those methodologies, but also that they
need *us* (in my case, the bioinformaticiens and machine learning experts).

>  From your post I learnt about the general ideas and you did an awesome
> job in explaining them. I mailed to ask  about specific activities
> planned in the project and institute (schools, online courses, software
> development, etc.), your reply clarified them all. Thanks!
> I will stay tuned.
> Yours,
> Bartosz
>> On Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 11:53 AM, Bartosz <mail at telenczuk.pl> wrote:
>>> Hi Fernando,
>>> That's great news! Congratulations!
>> Thanks! Crazy amount of work that was done in relatively high secrecy
>> (which runs against my instincts, though in this case there were good
>> reasons for it), so it's very nice to be able to talk about it
>> publicly.
>>> We have been organising a school on Python in (data) science (last
>>> time
>>> in Zurich: http://python.g-node.org [1]). The school has been a great
>>> success, but obtaining funding for a general school without any
>>> specific
>>> field (like bioinformatic, neuroscience etc.) is rather difficult in
>>> Europe.
>> And you think it's easy here? ;)  This kind of stuff is *super hard*
>> to get funded anywhere, and it's been our struggle for over a decade.
>>  That's why we're so excited about this initiative: we hope that this
>> support from the Moore and Sloan foundations will signal to the (much,
>> much bigger) federal funding agencies, and the ones elsewhere in the
>> world, that this stuff actually matters.
>> BTW, you guys are doing a terrific job with the G-Node school, I know
>> our own Stefan vdW is a regular and he speaks very highly of the
>> event.  Keep up the good work.
>> Part of the reason for such a high-visibility, coordinated media
>> blitz (White House, NSF, NYTimes, HuffPost, all universities, all
>> foundations, blog posts, etc) was precisely to give ammunition to
>> everyone who is fighting these battles with their committees, program
>> directors, colleagues, etc.  Hopefully next time that someone tells
>> you this isn't important, you can point them to this collection that
>> has all the links about this in one place:
>> http://bitly.com/bundles/fperezorg/1 [2]
>> and it will make it easier to argue your case :)
>>> 39;t want to sound rude, but was there something in my blog post that
>>> wasn't quite clear about the broader picture
>> py to answer questions, but I'd like that post, in addition to the
>> Berkeley press release (http://bit.ly/HYrhNT [3]), to be a clear
>> outline of the big ideas, so I'd rather fix that than answer only on a
>> mailing list.
>> As for the role for Python/IPython, right now I don't have much more
>> to say than what was in my email: there's a *lot* of Python activity
>> at Berkeley right now (see  http://python.berkeley.edu [4]), and
>> multiple projects use it. Everyone in the IPython team is spending
>> some time engaging the broader campus community, lecturing in courses,
>> meeting students, etc. So we're spreading our engagement to campus
>> quite a bit. What we hope is that when the institute ramps up, it will
>> be a home for a lot of this activity; we may physically move our work
>> space there (at least part-time), and I hope we'll be able to hire
>> more folks from the open source Python world (and related spaces, like
>> Julia) to make Berkeley an even more significant center of open source
>> scientific computing.
>> Does this help?
>> Cheers,
>> f
>> Links:
>> ------
>> [1] http://python.g-node.org
>> [2] http://bitly.com/bundles/fperezorg/1
>> [3] http://bit.ly/HYrhNT
>> [4] http://python.berkeley.edu/
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