Computational science: …Error …why scientific programming does not compute. Zeeya Merali

Computational science: …Error
…why scientific programming does not compute.
Zeeya Merali

…A quarter of a century ago, most of the computing work done by scientists was relatively straightforward. But as computers and programming tools have grown more complex, scientists have hit a “steep learning curve”, says James Hack, director of the US National Center for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. “The level of effort and skills needed to keep up aren’t in the wheelhouse of the average scientist.”

As a general rule, researchers do not test or document their programs rigorously, and they rarely release their codes, making it almost impossible to reproduce and verify published results generated by scientific software, say computer scientists. At best, poorly written programs cause researchers such as Harry to waste valuable time and energy. But the coding problems can sometimes cause substantial harm, and have forced some scientists to retract papers….

…Science administrators also need to value programming skills more highly, says David Gavaghan, a computational biologist at the University of Oxford, UK. “There needs to be a real shift in mindset away from worrying about how to get published in Nature and towards thinking about how to reward work that will be useful to the wider community.”…


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