[Numpy-discussion] UC Berkeley hiring developers to work on NumPy

Matthew Brett matthew.brett at gmail.com
Sat May 20 06:34:45 EDT 2017


On Fri, May 19, 2017 at 10:06 PM, Nathaniel Smith <njs at pobox.com> wrote:
> On Mon, May 15, 2017 at 1:43 AM, Matthew Brett <matthew.brett at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi,
>> On Sun, May 14, 2017 at 10:56 PM, Charles R Harris
>> <charlesr.harris at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> On Sat, May 13, 2017 at 11:45 PM, Nathaniel Smith <njs at pobox.com> wrote:
>>>> Hi all,
>>>> As some of you know, I've been working for... quite some time now to
>>>> try to secure funding for NumPy. So I'm excited that I can now
>>>> officially announce that BIDS [1] is planning to hire several folks
>>>> specifically to work on NumPy. These will full time positions at UC
>>>> Berkeley, postdoc or staff, with probably 2 year (initial) contracts,
>>>> and the general goal will be to work on some of the major priorities
>>>> we identified at the last dev meeting: more flexible dtypes, better
>>>> interoperation with other array libraries, paying down technical debt,
>>>> and so forth. Though I'm sure the details will change as we start to
>>>> dig into things and engage with the community.
>>>> More details soon; universities move slowly, so nothing's going to
>>>> happen immediately. But this is definitely happening and I wanted to
>>>> get something out publicly before the conference season starts – so if
>>>> you're someone who might be interested in coming to work with me and
>>>> the other awesome folks at BIDS, then this is a heads-up: drop me a
>>>> line and we can chat! I'll be at PyCon next week if anyone happens to
>>>> be there. And feel free to spread the word.
>>> Excellent news. Do you have any sort of timeline in mind?
>>> It will be interesting to see what changes this leads to, both in the code
>>> and in the project sociology.
>> I was thinking the same thing - if this does come about, it would
>> likely have a big impact on practical governance.  It could also mean
>> that more important development conversations happen off-list.   It
>> seems to me it would be good to plan for this consciously.
> Yeah, definitely. Being able to handle changes like this was one of
> the major motivations for all the governance discussions we started a
> few years ago, and it's something we'll need to keep an eye on going
> forward. To state it explicitly though: the idea is to fund folks so
> that they can contribute to numpy within our existing process of open
> community review, and preserving and growing that community is very
> much one of the grant's goals; no-one should get special privileges
> because of where their paycheck is coming from. If at some point you
> (or anyone) feel like we're deviating from that please speak up.

I think Chuck's term 'sociology' is a good one; although it's good to
have the governance document, I don't think it covers all the issues
that your initiative brings up.  At the moment, the people doing the
most work on numpy (by commits at least) are Chuck, Eric and Julian.
As far as I know, we don't have any full-time developers.   When
you've got up and running it sounds like you'll have at least two
full-time developers.  I guess you'll be their manager, and that they
will be physically housed in the BIDS.   So, this will represent a big
shift in practical influence, from a more or less completely
distributed pool of developer hours, to something much closer to an
institution-owned project.   Of course, we can hope that this doesn't
have any negative consequences in terms of project dynamics, but it
seems to me that it would be sensible to think of the risks, and plan
for them, rather than waiting for the expected problems to arise, when
they may be too late to fix.

We had this kind of discussion with Travis a while ago, and he pushed
back about conflicts of interests for people in the BIDS.  At the
time, that wasn't a serious issue, because you were the only BIDS
member actively committing to numpy.  That changes when it's you, and
two full-time developers.



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