[Numpy-discussion] grant proposal for core scientific Python projects (rejected)

Ralf Gommers ralf.gommers at gmail.com
Thu Apr 18 06:36:16 EDT 2019


Hi all,

A number of core projects (NumPy, SciPy, Matplotlib, Pandas, scikit-learn)
got together and put in a proposal to NSF for a large 5 year grant, and it
was unfortunately just rejected. We now published the proposal, which may
be of interest:
https://figshare.com/articles/Mid-Scale_Research_Infrastructure_-_The_Scientific_Python_Ecosystem/8009441
.

Those of you who are on Twitter may already know about this. First mention
of this rejection on Twitter with a lot of conversation following:
https://twitter.com/amuellerml/status/1117455802598662144. Full quote from
Andreas Mueller, replying to a tweet that the first ever image of a black
hole was built on Matplotlib, SciPy, NumPy, Pandas, Jupyter, AstroPy:
"Slightly ironic that in the same week @NSF rejects a grant to fund the
scipy ecosystem saying that working on it is not impactful enough and
hiring developers to work on it is too expensive." And a follow-up
conversation on Twitter about the rejection:
https://twitter.com/amuellerml/status/1118617331058475008

This proposal was led by Columbia, who submitted it together with NumFOCUS
and Quansight. It was largely written by Andreas Mueller (scikit-learn,
also the PI), Andy Terrel (NumFOCUS) and myself (NumPy/SciPy), with a lot
of valuable input from Thomas Caswell (Matplotlib), Jeff Reback (Pandas),
Gina Helfrich (NumFOCUS), the other co-PIs, the core teams of the projects,
and many others who pitched in ideas and advice.

This was the first time we tried a proposal of this scale and ambition (as
far as I know), and while it's disappointing that the NSF doesn't seem to
value software much (not really news, nor unique to NSF), rejections are a
normal part of submitting grant proposals and we now have a much better
idea of what it will take to submit further proposals in the future. Which
we plan on doing.

Cheers,
Ralf
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