Imperial College Research Software Community Newsletter - September 2019

Hello Imperial RSEs!

Whilst the summer has waned it’s been an important month for RSE with the flagship UK RSE conference in Birmingham and the official launch of the Society of Research Software Engineering. These events act as a reminder of the growing size and influence of the RSE movement, not only in the UK but worldwide.

With the start of the new academic year why not take a break from the day to day and enjoy a delve into the latest events and news from the world of RSE. In this month’s newsletter:

Upcoming events

Throughout October is Hacktoberfest. Sign up on the website and submit 4 PRs against issues on open-source projects before the end of the month to claim a t-shirt as your prize. If you participate let us know for an honourable mention in the next edition. For a list of open issues to get started see here. We are planning to hold a Hacktoberfest event in College later in October - stay tuned to the RSE Community Mailing List for further details!

5th-6th October: BARPAS Innovation Group Hackathon, London. That’s the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, in case you were wondering. Join the hackathon for a chance to win a £1500 prize.

10th October: Representation in Research, London. Digital Science are hosting a hackathon for Ada Lovelace Day, exploring data that focuses on diversity in research.

10th-11th October: A meeting of the HPC User Forum. The focus of the meeting is exascale systems around the world.

16th October: The next IDEAS-Productivity Best Practices for HPC Software Developers webinar will take place 18:00-19:00 UK on Tools and Techniques for Floating-Point Analysis. The webinar is free but registration is required.

21st-27th October: MozFest 2019, London. An eclectic collection of over 300 interactive sessions themed around “Healthy AI”. Also host of the Life Sci Hack on 22nd-23rd.

29th-30th October: Data Carpentry workshop, Cardiff.

31st October-1st November: Two-day workshop titled Introduction to Spark for Data Scientists, Alan Turing Institute, London. Run by EPCC. Registration required.

2nd November: Open Source Hackathon 2019, London. A full day hackathon focused on the open-source Python data science ecosystem.

31st March-1st April 2020 (save the dates!): Collaborations Workshop 2020 (CW20), Belfast. The Software Sustainability Institute’s hands-on annual workshop that brings together people with an interest in research software, from across academia and industry.

Research Software News

Research Software of the Month

…is BigDFT. An international code developed by Basel Universität, CEA-Grenoble, the University of Montreal and Imperial College. Development at Imperial is undertaken by Laura Ratcliff as part of her EPSRC Early Career Fellowship.

As you may have guessed, BigDFT is a Density Functional Theory (DFT) code. DFT has become the electronic structure method of choice for chemists and physicists thanks to its ability to scale to target systems of a practical size. BigDFT is specialised for targeting these large molecular and periodic systems to bring predictions from Quantum Mechanics to length scales that can be used to validate more approximate models and make experimentally verifiable predictions. To tackle the computational demand of these calculations BigDFT is a massively parallel code capable of scaling to thousands of CPU cores and using GPU acceleration.

The code is licensed under GPLv2 and is available on GitLab.

Each month we highlight a piece of research software that is being used or developed at Imperial. If you have a suggestion of some software that you’d like to see us feature, please email

RSE Bytes


RSE Conference Highlights

The 4th Annual RSE Conference was held in Birmingham on 17th-19th September. The event was very well attended and contributed to by Imperial as nicely summarised by a short write up of the conference, courtesy of Jeremy Cohen. Emma Russell of RESIDE also wrote up her thoughts in a blog post: All carrot, no stick - virtuous circles and useful tools.

Full details of the event can be found on the conference pages on Sched. It is planned that slides and materials will be made accessible to everyone via Sched but at time of writing they are only available to conference attendees.

My personal highlights of the conference are below:

Blog Posts / Articles / Misc

Get in touch, get involved!

That’s all for this month, and thanks to everyone who suggested links for this edition. If you’d like anything included in the newsletter, have ideas about how it could be improved, or would even like to guest-edit a future edition then drop us a line at And if you’re reading this on the web and would like to receive the next newsletter directly to your inbox then please subscribe to our RSE Community Mailing List here.

This edition of the Research Software Community Newsletter was edited by Chris Cave-Ayland