Software and research: the Institute's Blog

Getting started with Android

Latest version published on 7 October, 2016.

By Stefan Freitag, European Grid Infrastructure.

With some predicting that the app market will be worth $25 billion by 2015, there has been a lot of interest in developing for Android and the iPhone. We recently reported on GridAcro, an Android app that allows a user to search through the huge number of abbreviations used in Grid computing and presents a definition and further information. We asked Stefan Freitag, the developer of GridAcro, to give us a quick overview on getting started with developing for Android.

Grid computing is a complex topic, and before…

Ask Steve! - Choosing suitable open-source software

Latest version published on 30 September, 2016.

Software chasing sequence: a report from ISMB

Latest version published on 7 October, 2016.

By Colin Semple, a Software Sustainability Institute Agent.

It has become a cliche to announce that biology is undergoing a revolution, driven by the rapid advance of new technologies for high-throughput sequencing (HTS) of DNA and RNA. A cursory glance at the dramatic increase in sequencing capacity (and the corresponding fall in costs) over the past couple of years reveals rates of improvements that outpace Moore's Law, the famous doubling of processing power every two years seen during the evolution of computer hardware. This is prompting biologists of almost every flavour to…

Biodiversity is the spice of life

Latest version published on 7 October, 2016.

By Kathryn Rose, a Software Sustainability Institute Agent.

Despite being associated with the icy landmass of Antarctica, the Southern Ocean hosts an abundance of marine life. Whilst most people might associate this wildlife with whales, seals and penguins, what many do not realise is that the majority of this great biodiversity is actually located on the sea floor (over 8,500 known species so far). In light of this, the International Polar Year saw the launch of the Census of Antarctic Marine Life, an international initiative established to investigate and record the…

Open Street Map and Participatory Mapping

Latest version published on 7 October, 2016.

By Kristy Revell, a Software Sustainability Institute Agent.

When OpenStreetMap (OSM) was born in 2004, it was created as "an initiative to create and provide free geographic data, such as street maps, to anyone". Since then, OSM has grown rapidly and been developed by more than 400,000 volunteers.

I first became aware of OSM during a workshop in Kibera, an informal settlement in Nairobi. Vast amounts of data are collected on this community by the community, facilitated by the Map Kibera project. This project made me ponder the role of OSM in collecting and…

Save scientific legacy code!

Latest version published on 7 October, 2016.

By Aleksandra Pawlik, one of the institute's Agents.

The maintenance of scientific legacy code gives many scientists (and software engineers) a major headache. Supporting users, adding new functionality and fixing bugs causes problems to accumulate, until it seems easier to abandon the software and develop it again from scratch. Freezing the legacy code for (possibly) a few years of rewriting, means that new contributions have to wait until the rewritten software is released. Is there a solution that enables continuity of legacy software development, yet makes it possible to…

Should Big Brother get better vision?

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

Heather Packer, one of our Agents, asks whether current facial recognition software could help identify  criminals.

The recent London riots and the BBC's Crime Watch special, which focused on video footage of the rioters so the public could help identify them, led me to think about whether there was a feasible automated solution using facial recognition software.

There are many problems that prevent a face recognition algorithm from successfully identifying a person from a digital image. The occlusion of facial features such as the nose or eyes from images, different…

SSI at the SeIUCCR Summer School

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

The SeIUCCR project is a network of Community Champions who advocate the use of e-Infrastructures in their research. A collaboration between the Software Sustainability Institute and the National Grid Service, the project held a Summer School in September to show researchers how to make use of national e-resources and manage their software and data.

The workshop was aimed at UK doctoral and postdoctoral researchers in the Engineering and Physical Sciences, and with over 100 applicants the competition for the 30 placements was tough.

A host of talks and tutorials gave…

Prediction of a better future for head-injured patients

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

Predictive algorithms could improve the survival rate of patients who have suffered head injuries. Laura Moss, one of our Agents, describes the Avert-IT project.

The use of sophisticated machine learning algorithms is set to transform the treatment of critically ill head-injured patients. The Avert-IT project is an EU-funded collaboration which will construct an early warning alarm system to notify clinicians of impending low blood pressure (hypotension) in patients with head injuries. The HypoPredict system is based on a predictive model developed using patient data collected…

Beyond weather - MetUM and the art of weather forecasting

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

Vanesa Magar, one of our Agents, describes the Met Office's weather simulation software.

In the global web-enabled communications era, most of us don't think twice before consulting the weather forecast to plan our daily or future activities. We take this service for granted and never ask questions. Who produces the forecasts and how are they done? How accurate are they? The Met Office is the United Kingdom's national weather service. It was established in 1854 under Robert FitzRoy, a pioneering meteorologist, as a service for mariners. In 1859 its first gale warning service was…