Imperial College Research Software Community Newsletter - September 2020

A very warm welcome to September’s Community Newsletter - especially to any first-time readers and newcomers to Imperial. This is the 21st edition… I can just about remember editing the first one back in January 2018. Since then, curating the newsletter has evolved from searching for relevant material to selecting content of particular interest. This is a nice problem to have: we have more news and achievements to report on than ever. Nevertheless, we rely entirely on your input so please do continue to contribute via

This month also marks the third birthday of the Research Software Engineering team in the Research Computing Service. As its founding member I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped to establish the team, all the group leaders and others who have supported our efforts, and especially the members of the team who have done all the hard work to support so many researchers and projects since 2017. Long may it continue!

Finally, and as mentioned below, thanks to everyone who completed the recent Research Software Survey. We know that the Community and the RCS can do even more to support users and developers of research software across College, and we’re determined to deliver on that in the months and years to come.

In the meantime, here’s some topical reading material…

Dates for your diary

RSE Bytes


Blog posts, tools & more

Research Software of the Month

Tonic logo

Research in deep reinforcement learning is complex because experiments rely on many moving pieces. Tonic is a Python library that allows researchers to quickly implement new ideas and measure their importance by providing:

Tonic is a new project, developed by Fabio Pardo in the Robot Intelligence Lab in the Dyson School of Design Engineering. Fabio explains his motivation for the building the library:

While there are several existing libraries for deep reinforcement learning research, I have not been able to find one with enough simplicity, flexibility, and power to support rapid prototyping and benchmarking. I personally use it whenever I want to try something, and it usually takes only a few minutes or hours to get results. I hope that more people will contribute to the library in the future, adding new features and agents, making Tonic a popular choice for researchers to create their experiments and release their code.

You can see some animations of work carried out using Tonic on Fabio’s Twitter feed.

Some reminders…

RS Community coffee continues weekly via Zoom - normally on Friday afternoons at 3pm but check our Slack workspace for exact times and connection details.

The Slack workspace also features an #OpenFOAM channel where regular code review sessions are announced (amongst other CFD-related discussions…)

Check the latest instalment of the Research Computing Service’s Research Computing Tips for some Best practices for job scripts.

Get in Touch, Get Involved!

That’s all for this month. Thanks to everyone who provided content for this edition.

Drop us a line with anything you’d like included in the newsletter, ideas about how it could be improved… or even offer to guest-edit a future edition!

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 Mark Woodbridge. All previous newsletters are available in our online archive.