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Planetary Society Weekly Hangout: Programming in the Sciences

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Many scientists never have formal training in programming but are expected to write code for their research. This code is often private, which makes it difficult to verify and test.

Is science affected by this? Should all scientists be required to get formal training in computer science? Should they release their code as open-source software to the public? Are there minimum guidelines for code styles and quality used in the sciences?

We'll talk about this and more with Chase Million, founder of Million Concepts, a company that provides programming consulting to research scientists. From his bio:

Chase Million spent six years on the Pancam team for the Mars Exploration Rovers and four more as the lead software engineer for science operations on the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) mission. He has designed, written, and maintained calibration and science analysis software for multiple missions, performed research, and participated in mission design and operations.

Casey Dreier will also provide an update on NASA funding and what to expect when the President proposes his new budget on April 10th.


Mark Gooch: 04/05/2013 10:47 CDT

All I require is that the client have a an adequate explanation of the process involved. Examples Include Equipment Explanations, type of data being created by this equipment, and the format the finish data should be available to the client. Test points in the code will determine the validity of the data as it travels down the routines. Leave the coding to the professionals and we will leave the Science to them.

Mark Gooch: 04/05/2013 11:12 CDT

Fortran 77 required less formating regarding the input and output statements. Pascal was suppose to solve all problems in the Scientific community and Cobol was designed more towards the business community. Assembler was used by more of the serious programmers. Of couse this time period was in the 70's when most machines were 8088 processors. Trying to teach college students the art of programming in assembler however, is very difficult. I am confused however, I assumed that todays programmers are using C as the primary language. Is Fortran 77 still being used? Thanks

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