astrohackny, day 1

Today was the first day of Tuesday-morning hacking (as #astrohackny) up at Columbia, with a large crew, led by Adrian Price-Whelan. We discussed what we want to accomplish, what format to adopt, and what data-sets we might play with. The idea is to get work done, learn things, and hack as a group. Last year we did something similar as #nycastroml. Of the data sets we chose to make our principal, agreed-upon hacking data sets, I am most excited about the Planck data. Unfortunately, I am going to miss the next two meetings, but I have high hopes! We start by introducing the data sets and then we will move to pitching, refining, and executing projects on those data sets. We will also spend time getting our own personal projects done; it is partially a "parallel working" time.

On the train back downtown, I had a great conversation with Huppenkothen, Walsh, Vakili, and Ryan about scientific programming and programming languages. We discussed the conditions under which it would make sense to change languages (for example to Julia, the new language of hipness). I argued that there will never be a time during which it is obvious what language to be working in, especially if your data analysis is in any way cutting edge. I also argued that performance matters, even if you are only going to run your code once: The development cycle is unbearable when code is slow!

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