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

Marten van Kerkwijk m.h.vankerkwijk at gmail.com
Thu Apr 18 11:27:05 EDT 2019

Hi Ralf,

I'm sorry to hear the proposal did not pass the first round, but, having
looked at it briefly (about as much time as I would have spent had I been
on the panel), I have to admit I am not surprised: it is nice but nice is
not enough for a competition like this.

Compared to what will have included some really exciting, novel proposals,
most damning will likely have been the modest, incremental goals (for a
large sum of money): performance improvements, but without any actual sense
of what would now become solvable (how does it beat throwing more computers
at a problem, which is cheap?); better implementations of things that exist
(arrays with units, sparse arrays); better GPU support (feels like
something everybody and their brother was excited about a decade ago);
etc.  I also think any panel would expect some concrete examples of
facilities that would now be helped: e.g., how is this going to help LSST
analyze its 20TB/night of data?

Going forward, best may be to explicitly involve the facilities that use
python - within astronomy, that would include LIGO and LSST, but certainly
also STScI (and other NASA institutes), which actually supports SPE
already. It would be good especially to show how much money it would save
them when this is implemented, so that it becomes clear this is a net win.
Indeed, for any future proposal, I'd suggest to involve (or at least ask
for advice) some more senior people who have been successful before (within
astronomy, the likes of Steve Kahn, the LSST director; he was at Columbia
for most of his career, so there is a connection).

All best wishes,

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