[PYTHON MATRIX-SIG] fidl, was: PGPLOT issues

David Ascher da@maigret.cog.brown.edu
Fri, 7 Mar 1997 11:39:23 -0500 (EST)

> Here is the issue with fidl.
> fidl was produced while I was at USGS.  I found it to be extremely
> useful and would very much like to release it.  However, the only way
> that it can be released is through a publication mechanism involving
> colleague reviewers.  I attempted to get some such reviews by making
> selected beta releases.  Unfortunately, I have gotten almost no
> feedback, and the feedback I got was really more in the form of
> questions.   I cannot, in good conscience, release fidl any more, even
> to "beta testers".  This is a shame, because I think fidl could be quite
> useful.
> I no longer work at USGS, although I still have a connection with USGS
> as a volunteer.  fidl is in no way related to my current activities, so
> it is nearly impossible to justify additional effort on it.  However, 
> I am willing to put some effort if:
>   1. The past "beta testers" make any encouraging noises to me that they 
>      think it is worth the effort, and
>   2. I get a couple of people to sign on as colleague reviewers, 
>      but this is a *real* commitment.  If someone says they are 
>      going to do this, then I want *real* comments back.

I'll admit to the world that I am one of those beta testers.  I asked Jim
for a beta because local folks were pestering me about ways to do weird
statistical tests which only IMSL provided.  Those people have since
quieted down, and as I don't need IMSL for my own work, my motivation to
work on testing FIDL more thoroughly has died down.  Just like Jim, this
ain't my day job...

That said, I certainly want to make 'encouraging noises' re: FIDL -- It
works great as far as I've tested it (very little), and if it could be
used by someone who could 'take on' the fidlization of a large library
such as IMSL, it would result in a truly useful system for lots of folks. 
One might even consider talking to the folks who sell IMSL about possibly
supporting such an effort, since it would only encourage Python users to
pay for the library licenses...  Also, talking to them might allow one to
get access to source files which would make the automatic use of FIDL more
realistic.  I found that wrapping a single IMSL routine was not hard, but
it's far from automatic simply because of the complexity of the
relationships between arguments.  This is due to the IMO poor interface
definition of IMSL, not to any FIDL problems. It also requires human
reading of the documentation which is only available through a GUI, which
makes automatizing impossible. Extrapolating, I'd say that wrapping all of
IMSL is a significant chunk of work (which is why I haven't done it).

Do astronomers ever use statistical tools like IMSL, or do you have more
specialized ones?  I do like the idea of getting some sort of support for
this type of project, since it makes it more likely to happen... 

On a related note, what's the status of the GRAD system, and its possible
release?  [this is addressed to the folks at United Space Alliance,


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