Imperial College Research Software Community Newsletter - April 2021

Hello Imperial researchers and RSEs! Spring is here and I hope you’re all well and have been enjoying the sunshine even if it’s still rather cold! As 2021 progresses there’s hope that with every passing month, we’re that bit closer to being able to get back to in-person events and activities.

This month we have a call out for new committee members for our Imperial Research Software Community. If you’re enthusiastic about the importance of software in research and are keen to help with aspects such as growing the community, providing training and events and raising the profile of RSE within the College, why not think about volunteering to join the committee - see the news section below for further details. This month we’re also announcing the launch of our new “DeepLearners” AI/ML group.

As we head into the summer and beyond, we can begin to look forward to the opportunity to start meeting and networking with other researchers and RSEs in person, although it’s quite likely that online events are here to stay in one form or another. For now though, things remain exclusively online but that’s not proved to be a barrier as you’ll see from the wide range of content we have for you in this month’s packed newsletter. Read on to find out more and, as always, please do get in touch with us if you have an event you’d like us to advertise or a news item to highlight.

In this month’s newsletter:

Dates for your diary

RSE Bytes


In this month’s news we have a few opportunities to bring to your attention. This includes the launch of our new “DeepLearners” group for anyone interested in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning, a call for new committee members to help run and grow our community and play an important role in supporting researchers and RSEs writing software at Imperial, and a call for Software Carpentry instructors/helpers for two upcoming workshops.

Imperial Research Software Community “DeepLearners” AI/ML Group

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning (DL) methods and techniques have gained huge importance in the research community over the last few years. So many people seem to be talking about Machine Learning and many areas of research, from Medicine to Engineering, are now using these technologies to automate and enhance previously labour-intensive processes or undertake data analysis at a scale that would not have been possible just a few years ago. Many members of the RSE community are involved in work that has a Machine Learning element. However, there are also many of us who are aware of this high-profile area but haven’t yet had the chance to develop our skills. Imperial Research Software Community’s new “DeepLearners” AI/ML Group, led by Marlene Pinzi, is here to help. Whether you’re an experienced AI/ML researcher or you’re completely new to the area but keen to learn, the group will offer something for you. From paper reading and discussion groups to training and hackathons, we have a number of ideas and we’re here to help Imperial researchers grow their skills and support each other.

We’ll be launching the group with an introductory session in May where you’ll have a chance to tell us what activities you’d like to see and, if you’d like to contribute, where you can help. To register your interest in this new group and let us know if you’d like to be notified of the launch event, you can complete this form (Imperial login required). To support this group, we’re also launching a new channel in our Imperial RS Community Slack workspace #DeepLearners. If you’re not already a member of our Slack workspace, you can join here.

Call for new Imperial Research Software Community committee members

Are you passionate about research software and how it contributes to research outputs within Imperial and beyond?

Are you enthusiastic about the important roles that training, knowledge exchange, community and networking play in supporting the work of researchers and RSEs?

Do you want to help keep your peers informed about what’s happening with RSE and contribute to developing new ideas and policies around research software?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, why not consider volunteering to join our research software community committee and helping to shape the role of research software at Imperial. Committee members help to organise and run a range of research software events and training courses, maintain our website and promote the importance of maintainable, sustainable, robust research software across the College. Contact Jeremy Cohen if you’d like to volunteer as a committee member or you have any questions about what’s involved.

Call for instructors and helpers for upcoming RSLondon Software Carpentry workshops

We are pleased to announce two upcoming opportunities to get involved as a Software Carpentry instructor or helper. The RSLondon research software community is running two Software Carpentry workshops - one covering an R syllabus, the other covering Python - with sessions taking place between the 20th-27th May (inclusive).

These RSLondon workshops are being organised by a group including representatives from 4 universities - Imperial, UCL, Queen Mary and Westminster. The audience, instructors and helpers will come from a combination of these institutions, and others within the London and South East of England region. In addition to the standard Software Carpentry teaching model, we will allow more time for more exercises, which will be undertaken in small breakout groups that will each have a dedicated helper.

If you’d like to sign up as a helper at one or more of the following sessions, please complete this form: (Imperial login required).

Shell / Git / Python:

Session Date Session Time Topic
Thursday 20th May 10:00 - 12:00, 14:00 - 16:00 Bash shell
Friday 21st May 10:00 - 12:00, 14:00 - 16:00 Git
Monday 24th May 13:30 - 17:00 Python - Part 1
Tuesday 25th May 10:00 - 13:30 Python - Part 2

Shell / Git / R:

Session Date Session Time Topic
Thursday 20th May 10:00 - 12:00, 14:00 - 16:00 Bash shell
Friday 21st May 10:00 - 12:00, 14:00 - 16:00 Git
Tuesday 25th May 14:00 - 17:00 R - Part 1
Wednesday 26th May 14:00 - 17:00 R - Part 2
Thursday 27th May 14:00 - 17:00 R - Part 3

Thanks in advance for any help you’re able to offer with these workshops. If you’re interested to help out but you have questions, please get in touch via email.

Also in this month’s news:

Blog posts, tools & more

Research Software of the Month

KLEE Symbolic Execution Engine

Our Research Software of the Month for April is KLEE. Do you want to automatically explore and analyse paths through a program? KLEE is an open-source framework based on a technique called dynamic symbolic execution, which can be used to automatically explore program paths by modelling them as mathematical constraints whose feasibility is determined using a constraint solver. KLEE has a large user base from both academia and industry and has been applied to numerous software engineering problems such as test generation, bug finding, debugging, program repair, patch testing, side channel analysis and more. You can find out more about KLEE from and You can also attend the next International KLEE Workshop on Symbolic Execution, which will take place online on 10-11 June 2021.

Some reminders…

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

The Imperial RSE Community Slack workspace also features channels for communities of individuals interested in or working with particular tools or topics. If you’re an OpenFOAM user, why not join the #OpenFOAM channel where regular code review sessions are announced (amongst other CFD-related discussions…). Users of the Nextflow workflow tool can find other Imperial Nextflow users in #nextflow. You can find other R developers in #r-users and, of course, there is the #DeepLearners channel for our new AI/ML group highlighted above. Take a look at the other available channels by clicking the “+” next to “Channels” in the Slack app and selecting “Browse channels”. If you want to start your own group around a tool, programming language or topic not currently represented, feel free to create a new channel and advertise it in #general.

See the Research Computing Service’s Research Computing Tips series for a variety of helpful tips for using RCS resources and related tools and services.

Get in Touch, Get Involved!

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 Jeremy Cohen. All previous newsletters are available in our online archive.