Imperial College Research Software Community Newsletter - October 2019

Hello Imperial RSEs!

Shortening days, lengthening shadows; it’s the time of year when we celebrate the magical, the spooky, the weird: those p-values you can’t reproduce, that 100% validation loss glimpsed fleetingly out of the corner of your eye. Welcome to the Machine Learning Issue!*

* this is a joke, mainly

What Did I Miss?

Time is running out to get your Hacktoberfest t-shirt, but you can find lots of helpful info and links from our RSE event here earlier this month.

STOP PRESS Congratulations to Diego Alonso Álvarez for claiming his t-shirt with 7 days still to go! Have you got yours? Let us know!

The perennially excellent RCS Summer School took place at the end of September, but just missed the deadline for the last newsletter. Two gentlemen from Google gave us a practical introduction to Python-flavour TensorFlow and Keras, and one hundred free US dollars each to spend in the Google Cloud shop! Very generous and frankly more than my data’s worth if I’m honest, but I didn’t say so. Highlights included a digression on bias concerning whether or not flamingos are food, and the evergreen discovery that we can now distinguish muffins from puppies. To round it off Ben Glocker from the BioMedIA group in DoC presented a masterclass on medical image analysis techniques, culminating in a worked example of age regression in brains. There were no biscuits, alas, but you can’t have everything.

Some useful links arising:

Upcoming events

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

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

4th November: the DSI’s 5 year anniversary lecture, by Lord Willetts, on The Future of Research in the UK

6th November: Better Science through Better Data: Springer Nature and The Wellcome Trust bring together researchers to discuss innovative approaches to data sharing, open science, and reproducible research, together with demonstrations of exemplary projects and tools, they say.

7th November: a DoC special lecture by Prof. Ron Summers entitled How close are we to routine clinical use of AI in medical imaging?

20th November: NL-RSE is organizing the NL-RSE19 conference at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam.

Save the dates

5th/6th December: Computing Insight UK 2019 will once again take place at Manchester Central.

31st March-1st April 2020: 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

If machine learning with raw TensorFlow is not your idea of fun but Keras is too high-level for what you need, then TensorLayer, a modular Python wrapper library for TensorFlow, may hit the sweet spot. It’s a highly popular library, three years’ old last month, designed to assist ML developers in assembling network layers, configuring models, and managing training data and workflow. From the docs: TensorLayer is a Deep Learning and Reinforcement Learning library extended from Google TensorFlow. It provides popular DL and RL modules that can be easily customized and assembled for tackling real-world machine learning problems. Best of all it comes with lots of examples.

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

Reading matters

Stuff to try

Places to go, things to see

Your monthly reminder…

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 issue of the Research Software Community Newsletter was edited by Jazz Mack Smith