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Search - "scientific computing"
I applied for the wrong job for my placement year. Put down COMPSCI on the form (which, it turns out, is computational biology, which I knew nothing about) rather than ITSEC, which was the software dev side of things.
I only found out in the interview, when the first question was asked:
"So Almond, I'm a bit confused as to why you've applied to this role specifically given you've no biology background at all - could you fill us in?"
I spewed some kind of crap on the spot about wanting to work in a field where I saw a direct & differing application of computing than I'd seen before, and thought my focus on the technical, rather than the scientific side of things might be an asset to them. This awkward exchange went on for a while - but somehow it seemed to work, because I was offered the job, and decided to take it - had a fantastic year there.6
Prof: So yeah this is going to be difficult. We're going to make the scalable math library. Then we have to make a functional finite elements library using that. Then make a multiphysics engine using that library. This could easily take your entire PhD. Are you prepared for that?
Me: May I show you something?
Prof: Sure, sure.
Me, showing him: We can use moose to code in the multiphysics. It's built atop libmesh for the finite elements. Which can be built with a petsc backend. Which we can run on GPUs and CPUs, up to 200k cores. All of this has been done for us. This project will, at worst, take a couple months.
Guys, libraries. Fucking. Libraries. Holy fucking shit.5
Yes, my Python scripts are not remotely pretty. But then, neither was my nonexistent formal training in scientific computing. And no, I will not 'write two lines of comments for every line of code'. Physics major programmer problems.1
Being a programmer in a scientific discipline can be infuriating.
using "no one" ="almost no one"
using everyone = "almost everyone"
1. No one knows what even the very idea of good practice is. And everyone refuses to learn. 3k lines of repetitive copy pasted main. 500 lines of plotting method.
2. Raw C-style pointer based array creation. Won't use develope array libraries because what if development stops. FUCKING HAVE YOU SEEN YOUR CODE WHAT IF DEVELOPMENT ON YOUR CODE STOPS. FUCK.
3. LOOP VARIABLES DECLARED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE METHOD WHY.
4. Everyone wants to make modular, independent code. No one wants to use OOP. NOPE. ALL IN ONE FILE. WRITE C++ LIKE A FUCKING PYTHON NOTEBOOK. FUCK.
5. LIBRARIES OH MY GOD PLEASE DO NOT CODE UP YOUR MATRIX MULTIPLICATION. PLEASE DO NOT TRIPLE LOOP IT. NO. THE LINEAR ALGEBRA LIBRARY WILL STAY IN DEVELOPMENT.
6. Please realize that literally not one comment over an 1800 line file does not help anyone.
FUCKING. WHY. WHY ARE WE SCIENTISTS SO GOOD AT SCIENCE AND SO FUCKING SHIT AT THE CODE THAT MAKES OUR SCIENCE HAPPEN. WHY. FUCKING. WHY. FUCK.4
Hey guys, I have a serious question for you: How do you define science?
And yes this is going to be a long Rant. This topic really pisses me off.
A bit of context first. I come from a "humanities" background. I study history and dude, I love it. The problem is that even though we fucking pull our brains out studying historical phenomena with a fucking ton of conceptual tools, our work is mostly seen as literature to entertain the elderly during their lonely evenings. But that's not really the point of this rant.
My fucking problem is that while we try to do some serious work; actual work that could help society for real, it all goes into that magical fucking kingdom called "humanities". HOW THE FUCK DO THEY DARE TO CALL SOMETHING "HUMANITIES". IT'S A FUCKING HISTORICAL TERM THAT MEANS "TO FULFILL MEN IN ALL IT'S ASPECTS", AND NOW THEY'VE REPURPOSED IT, MAKING IT CONTAIN ANY STUDY THAT ISN'T "EMPIRICAL", "OBJECTIVE", ADD ANY FUCKING SCIENTIFIC DELUSIONARY TERM YOU CAN THINK OF.
And don't get me started on "objectivity". Oh boy, your fucking objectivity is hollow as a kid's balloon. There is no such thing as a objective study, even when it applies your "rational" "godly" scientific method. Some guys follow that shit as if it was a fucking religion. I do understand it's useful and all that, but in the end it's just a tool, you can't fucking define "science" by it's tools.
"""Q: What is carpintery?
A: Well, it's hammers, nails and wood. Yep. Hammers, nails and wood."""
THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD WAS FUCKING INVENTED DURING THE XVIII CENTURY, WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK WAS GALLILEI BEFORE THAT? "HUMANITIES"?
Why do I say objectivity isn't posible? Well, guess what? YOU ARE FUCKING HUMAN. Every thing you know is full of preconceptions and fucking cultural subjectivities invented to understand the world. And it's ok, becouse if you understand your own subjectivity, at least you can see yourself in a critical sense, and at least "tend" to objectivity, in the same way functions tend to infinity.
And here comes the best part: people studying "cs" in my university pass most of the time studying a ton of shit that isn't really science, but is taken as scientific becouse it is related to "science". These guys spend entire semesters just learning programming fundational stuff that in my opinion isn't really science, it's just subjective conceptual constructs built to make the coding process better. They only have TWO fucking classes on discrete mathematics and another 3 or 4 in actual scientific fields related to computing. THESE GUYS AREN'T FUCKING BEING TAUGHT TO BE COMPUTER SCIENTISTS; THEY ARE TEACHING THEM TO BE PROGRAMMERS. THERE'S A HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CS AND PROGRAMMING AND THAT IS THE WORD SCIENCE. And yes, I'm being drastic on the definition of science on purpose becouse guess fucking what? I'M PISSED OFF.
"Hey, what are you doing?"
"Just doing science with scrum and agile development."
I understand most of you guys would think of science as "the application of the scientific method", "Knowledge by experimentation and peer-review", "anything techy". Guys, science is a lot broather than that. I define it as "the search for truth", mainly becouse that's what we are all doing, and what humans have been doing to gain knowledge through the ages. It doesn't matter what field of truth you are seeking as long as you do it seriously and with fundaments. I don't fucking care if you can't be objective: that's impossible. Just acknowledge it and continue investigating accordingly.
I believe during the last centuries the concept of science has been deformed by the popular rise of both natural and applied sciences. And I love the fact that these science fields have been growing so much all this time, but for fucks sake don't leave every other science (science as I define it) behind. Governments and corporations make huge mistakes becouse they don't treat history, politics and other sciences seriously. Yes, I called history a "science", fuck you.
And yes, by my definition programming is not a science. I don't know what most of you think programming is, but for me it's a discipline that builds stuff, similar to carpintery or blacksmithing. Now if you are pushing the limits, seeking ways to make computing go further, then that's science. The guys that are figuring out AI are scientists, the guys that are using it to detect hotdogs aren't - unless they are the same person- deal with it. I guess a lot of you guys are with me on this point.
In the end, we are all artisans building abstract tools by giving orders to a machine.
I still have some characters left, so I want to thank the community as a whole for letting me vent my inner rage. I don't have much ways to express myself on these matters, so for me DevRant is a bless.8
Just started learning gnuplot yesterday. Sure, it's not the shiniest of tools, but I'd heard enough about its performance to give it a go.
It's like learning vim. You Google thrice to write a single functional line. You spend hours trying to find a single command for a single task.
But. GODDAMN. This thing's the fastest plotting framework I've ever dealt with. I love Matplotlib, but as great as its plots are, when I need to plot shit up in half a second, I've found a new friend.
Also, tutorial suggestions appreciated.1
Okay. We believe in atmospheric physics when we're running weather forecast models. But somehow half the population thinks the science of anthropogenic climate change is in dispute.17
Why does my teacher think it's reasonable to give an assignment for writing a scientific article about quantum computing in the first semester of CS? Like really? I just got out of fucking high school you bitch, all math I know is basic linear algebra. Thankfully I'm a nerd that likes computers so I got the basis of classical computing covered, I can only imagine how my classmates that never touched a computer are holding up.9
Time for an exam about Cloud computing and deploying Microservices to the cloud using kubernetes, followed by another exam about Usage of scientific C libraries. This feels both so disconnected for being part of the same degree.2
Front-end development leaves me slightly in awe of the developers. How do you do it?
I come from a background in scientific computing. I can write boundary element code that's fast, performant and safe. I can build Monte Carlo simulations that work well. I'm even decent with backend development in Flask somehow. But ask me to build a simple web form and... argh!3
rent / question (there is a question at the end and I'd appreciate your opinion)
8 months ago, I agreed to help a not too distant relative of mine to do his master thesis at the company where I work. He was supposed to build something really MVP, but useful for us and I'd help him get some scientific questions out of it, and provide him with (computing) resources to test his theories / implementations under simulated and much heavier load.
Since then, he didn't get done anything even remotely useful, always just stuck on very rudimentary issues, claimed things are almost ready, I wrote a quick smoke test to prove that the whole application blows up when you touch it, in short - a disaster and went over to radio silence.
In the meanwhile, we didn't need it anymore, so 1.5 months ago, I got in touch with him again, with an even more technical proposal, something, at least I'd think, that's even cooler to do. He asked me some question about hypothetical load, the system should be able to handle eventually, to come up with alternative implementations to compare them against each other. He said that his exam period is going to be over soon and he'll get back to me with some initial version.
2 weeks ago, I got back in touch with him, trying to urge him, to get finally started and get something done. If he'd actually sit down and do it during the holidays as a "full time job", he'd be probably done in 2 weeks. Last week, he came back to me and said he has an initial PR ready to review.
I was excited about it, but basically froze when I realized what he did. He deleted all his previous work - some infrastructure stuff which took us basically 3 months of back and forth to get running - and as far as I could see, all the new code were only auto generated clients based on a swagger specification. In short - I could do it in less then an hour. If you really have no idea what you're doing, it might take you half a day, but definitely nowhere near to a week.
His brother, which a good friend of mine, thinks I'm being too hard on him. His argument was, that it's too hard, and he has to do it in C#, but he only knows Java (I gave him access to some of our repositories to copy paste code together, he didn't need to invent anything. I also prefer C# but wrote my master thesis in Java) Personally, I'm just pissed because he promises stuff that he never does. I totally understand him - I was like that as a student as well, I guess karma is a ... but still, he's wasting my time.
Right now I'm thinking how to get out of this, without having even more time wasted. I doubt he'd ever deliver anything useful. He got plenty of input from me about what he could consider for his scientific question, how to measure performance, ... He can keep his credentials to access our test environment with the test data, but I won't give him access to any additional computing resources, to compare how his solutions might scale on our company's cost. (mainly it's not the money, but I'd have to provide that stuff, and probably help him set it up)
does it sound like a fair deal (saying, I'm done with you. You can finish your topic on your own, but don't expect any help from me)? or am I being a dick about it and too demanding?1
Just came across the NERSC Docs (https://docs.nersc.gov), absolutely wonderful open source docs by the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center.
I believe they were written as a guide for people that would be using their super computers, but it's a very good linux beginners guide.
Plus, it looks nice (no visible dark mode tho...).
Just found some of Andrei Alexander's I'd videos on YouTube. Specifically the cppcon 15 talks. Does anyone else here know of talks or books etc all that can satisfy my near-juvenile love for fast code.