On September 19th-20th, 2016, the Manchester SIAM Student Chapter hosted the UK’s first Julia workshop. Julia is a modern high-level dynamic programming language which is designed to offer high speed numerical computation alongside easily understandable code. The language was first released in 2012, and has rapidly grown in popularity, thanks in no small part to its active community on sites such as GitHub.
Our aim in hosting this workshop was twofold. Firstly, we wanted to bring experienced Julia users together to share their experience with the language. Secondly, we aimed to introduce Julia to researchers across many fields in the hope that it might benefit them and their research. Many of our attendees were from the University of Manchester, but there were also attendees from other universities across the country, as well as some from industry, including the Numerical Algorithms Group (NAG), and the BBC.
We were privileged to be joined by several guest speakers from around the world; Dr Jiahao Chen (MIT), Dr Simon Byrne (Julia Computing), Jarrett Revels (MIT), Prof. Christoph Ortner (University of Warwick), Dr Pontus Stenetorp (UCL), and Dr Ben Ward (Earlham Institute).
The first day of the workshop consisted of a short introduction to Julia, followed by a Hackathon in which people had the opportunity to try out Julia on their own problems, or work on suggested projects in groups. Many people took the opportunity to ask questions of the guest speakers, and they were happy to share their knowledge and experience.
The second day of the workshop consisted of talks by the invited speakers on how they have used Julia in their areas of research, and in some cases on their experiences developing the language. The topics of the talks covered a wide variety of subjects, ranging from natural language processing to computational biology. These talks are available to watch on the Manchester SIAM YouTube page.
The workshop was a great success, and we are grateful to SIAM, Julia Computing and MIMS for sponsoring the event.