Software Events at the 225th AAS Meeting, Seattle, Jan 4-8

Reproduced from the AAS web page and the ASCL Blog, with the permission of Alice Allen. See the ASCL Blog for more details.

Join the Software Publication Special Interest Group (SPSIG)

The AAS Working Group on Astronomical Software (WGAS) has invited the Astrophysics Source Code Library (ASCL) to form a special interest group (SIG) on software publication. The inaugural meeting will be held at the 225th AAS meeting in Seattle, Washington, on Tuesday afternoon, 6 January, from 3:45 to 4:45 pm in Room 615 in the Washington State Convention Center. This is immediately after the Licensing Astrophysics Codes: What You Need to Know special session that is from 2:00 to 3:30 pm in that same room.

As issues around software citation came up several times at this month’s .Astronomy meeting and has received subsequent discussion online since, it seems fitting for this to be the main topic for the first meeting of the SPSIG.

The meeting is open to anyone who is interested. Additional information will be posted on the ASCL as it becomes available.

Software Events at the 225th AAS Meeting in Seattle

Software is an integral part of astronomy research, and meetings of the American Astronomical Society reflect this. The upcoming 225th AAS meeting in Seattle (4-8 January 2015) offers workshops, sessions, posters, tutorials, and discussions that focus on many aspects of astronomical software, and on Thursday the wildly successful and fun Hack Day returns.

Assembled by the Astrophysics Source Code Library and organized by day, below is a list of software-related offerings at the AAS meeting. See you there!


Software Carpentry Bootcamp, Saturday-Sunday, 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
Computing is now an integral part of every aspect of science, but most scientists are never taught how to build, use, validate, and share software well. As a result, many spend hours or days doing things badly that could be done well in just a few minutes. The goal of the AAS 225 Software Carpentry two-day “bootcamp” is to change that so that astronomers can spend less time wrestling with software and more time doing useful research. Further, good quality, well tested code means science results are easier to verify, share, and update. More information on the project can be found on the Software Carpentry webpage. The AAS 225 Software Carpentry bootcamp consists of short tutorials alternating with hands-on practical exercises and will cover the core software skills needed to build, use, validate, and share software in astronomy. Saturday’s tutorials will comprise shell automation, basic Python programming, and unit testing; Sunday’s sessions will shift to focus on advanced Python, including numerical and astronomy oriented computing, and version control. Registration is for both days. The target audience for the bootcamp consists of graduate students and early career scientists. The Software Carpentry @ AAS 225 Bootcamp will be run by a set of three certified instructors and a team of helpers. Participants will be required to bring laptops and to install software in advance of the workshop. Some basic familiarity with shell based computing was assumed in setting the bootcamp schedule. See the FAQ for more information.
Event Type: Workshop
Organizer: August A. Muench
Location: 609 (Convention Center)


Software Carpentry Bootcamp, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Day 2: see description above

Astropy Tutorial, Sunday, 8:00 – 11:00 am
This tutorial will cover the features and capabilities of Astropy and affiliated packages.
Event Type: Splinter Meeting
Organizer: Perry Greenfield
Location: 612 (Convention Center)

SciCoder@AAS: Intro to Databases for Astronomers, Sunday, 9:00 am -5:00 pm
The volume of data available to astronomers today is enormous. The standard pattern of working with flat files doesn’t scale to what’s available now, let alone with the increasing amount of data that is coming. Every astronomer should have the skills to work with databases both for their own data sets and what is publicly available. This workshop will teach how a database is designed, how to create your own, how to populate it with data, how to query that data, how to work with other databases, and how to write scripts against a database. Exercises and examples will be geared to astronomical data but will be applicable to nearly any data. Participants should have a basic comfort level with Python and will be required to install some software on their laptops before the workshop. The workshop will be presented by Demitri Muna (Ohio State University), creator of the SciCoder workshop, and Alex Hagen (Pennsylvania State University).
Event Type: Workshop
Organizer: Demitri Muna
Location: 607 (Convention Center)

Astrostatistics, Sunday, 9:30 am – 6:00 pm
The fields of astronomy and statistics diverged in the 20th century so that astronomers are often not well informed about the wealth of powerful modern methodologies developed by statisticians. Statistics is needed for characterizing astronomical images, spectra, and lightcurves; inferring properties of underlying populations from limited samples; linking astronomical observations to astrophysical theories; and many other aspects of data and science analysis. An additional difficulty has been the inaccessibility of software implementing modern statistical methods for most astronomers. Fortunately, a large, integrated, and user-friendly public domain software system has emerged in recent years to implement modern methods. R with its >5000 add-on CRAN packages has >100,000 statistical functionalities, extensive graphics, links to other languages, and more. Over 100 recipe books and extensive online support provide guidance for the sophisticated R user. The AAS astrostatistics tutorials are presented by astronomer Eric D. Feigelson and statistician G. Jogesh Babu, authors of the textbook Modern Statistical Methods for Astronomy with R Applications, which won the PROSE Award for best astronomy book of 2012. Participants should bring laptops with R installed. R scripts and astronomical datasets will be provided.

Schedule for Sunday, 4 January:

  • 9:30 – 10:30 am: Introduction to astrostatistics (lecture)
  • 10:30 – 11:30 am: Fundamentals of statistical inference (lecture)
  • 11:30 am – 12:30 pm: Introduction to R (tutorial)
  • Lunch (not provided)
  • 2:00 – 3:00 pm: Density estimation or data smoothing (tutorial)
  • 3:00 – 4:00 pm: Fitting models to data (lecture)
  • 4:00 – 5:00 pm: Multivariate clustering and classification (tutorial)

Event Type: Workshop
Organizer: Eric Feigelson
Location: 618/619 (Convention Center)

Collaborating Online with GitHub and Other Tools, Sunday, 12:00 – 5:00 pm
Distributed collaboration is a hallmark of modern international astronomical research. We collaborate on everything from software development to paper and grant writing to sharing new results, plots, and data files. The goal of this workshop is to provide new tools and techniques for productive, efficient collaboration online. This workshop will begin with a hands on tutorial of GitHub. This will include reviewing distributed version control systems and learning collaboration workflows using the GitHub system. During the second part of the workshop we will explore an array of other online tools, ranging from cloud storage (DropBox, Google Drive) to collaborative document creation (Google Documents, online LaTeX editors), to feature tracking platforms (Trello, Jira), and much more. We intend to provide concrete workflows and to imbue you with tips and tricks for using these online tools in your research groups. The target audience for the workshop consists of astronomers at all points in their careers. Presenters will include Arfon Smith, PhD astronomer turned Zooniverse developer turned Github science head; Brent Beer, a GitHub trainer; and August Muench (AAS & Smithsonian). Participants will be required to bring laptops and to install software in advance of the workshop. Familiarity with Git or other version control systems is not a prerequisite.
Event Type: Workshop
Organizer: August A. Muench
Location: 303 (Convention Center)


232. Licensing Astrophysics Codes: What You Need to Know, Tuesday, 2:00 – 3:30 pm
Research in astronomy is increasingly dependent on software methods, and astronomers are increasingly required to share their codes. Those who write software need to choose a license that delineates whether, when, and how others may use and extend this software. Building on comments and questions about licensing in the January 2014 AAS special session “Astrophysics Code Sharing II: The Sequel”, this session, organized by the Astrophysics Source Code Library (ASCL), AAS’s Working Group on Astronomical Software (WGAS), and the Moore-Sloan Data Science Environment at NYU, explores why providing an explicit license for software is important, explains different common licenses, examines intellectual property concerns common to universities, and provides information on restrictions that arise from ITAR. A panel of speakers will discuss code licensing, share considerations that arise when choosing a license, and benefits of the licenses they chose. Institutional and governmental concerns about intellectual property, its licensing, use, and release, will also be covered. The floor will then be open for discussion and questions.
Session Type: Special Session
Organizer: Alice Allen
Chair: Frossie Economou
Location: 615 (Convention Center)

  • 232.01. Copy-left and Copy-right, Jacob VanderPlas
  • 232.02. University Tech Transfer Perspective on Software Licensing, Laura Dorsey
  • 232.03. Relicensing the Montage Image Mosaic Engine, G. B. Berriman
  • 232.04. Export Controls on Astrophysical Simulation Codes, Daniel Whalen
  • 232.05. Why Licensing Is just the First Step, Arfon M. Smith
  • 232.06. Licenses in the Wild, Daniel Foreman-Mackey
  • Moderated Open Discussion

Hack Day, Thursday, 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
A day to work intensively on collaborative projects. A wide variety of projects will be undertaken and will include everything from software development and coding to creative outreach projects. Projects that take advantage of the unique gathering of enthusiasm and expertise at the winter AAS Meeting are particularly encouraged. Hack ideas and participants will be solicited before and during the meeting. Participants can either lead a project or join a project and should plan on focusing primarily on only one hack. In addition, we ask participants to commit to hacking for the majority of the day. Registration is encouraged to facilitate pre-meeting coordination, but not required.
Event Type: Workshop
Organizer: Kelle L. Cruz
Chair: David W. Hogg
Location: 4C-2 (Convention Center)

This entry was posted in astroinformatics, Astronomy, Computing, cyberinfrastructure, Data Management, High performance computing, informatics, information sharing, Licenses, programming, Scientific computing, software engineering, software maintenance, software sustainability, Web 2.0 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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