Imperial College Research Software Community Newsletter - January 2023

The start of January seems like quite a long time ago now, but with this being our first research software community newsletter of 2023, we’d like to wish all our readers a rather belated Happy New Year! We hope you enjoyed a break over the holidays and were able to disconnect from research and programming for at least a short time.

The new year is already off to a busy start, with more and more conferences, events and training workshops returning to an in-person format. We have lots to tell you about this month so read on for our usual mix of dates for your diary, news and, of course, our regular Research Software of the Month and Research Computing at Imperial features.

Dates for your diary

Research Computing at Imperial

This month, in our series highlighting key members of the College community helping to provide, manage and support research computing and research software services, we hear from Dr Srikanth Ravipati, Senior Research Software Engineer in the Department of Materials:

I have been a Senior Research Software Engineer (RSE) within the Stevens Group in the Department of Materials for a year and a half. I have been developing software with a graphical user interface to control Single Particle Automated Raman Trapping Analysis (SPARTA), SPARTAControl, and software to process data obtained using SPARTA, SPARTADiscovery. (

I have had an RSE spirit all along, with a different quality, to be fair, since my Ph.D. as my thesis extensively involved molecular simulations. After my Ph.D., I moved to the UK for a postdoctoral position in the Department of Chemical Engineering and continued as a computational researcher with the internal RSE spirit growing. Then I moved to the Department of Chemical Engineering at University College London to work on the development of Zacros (, which was the transitioning point in my career as an RSE.

I enjoy working on projects to develop software that is easy to use, flexible (as most of the research software is constantly in flux), and performant (the past times of processing molecular simulation data inefficiently still haunts me). I like reading about updates in programming languages and observing their evolution. Now, I am enjoying reading about RUST, although I do not use it in a project, not yet anyway!

Research Software of the Month

Our Research Software of the Month for January 2023 is ICLOCS:

ICLOCS (pronounced “eye-clocks”) is a comprehensive software suite for solving dynamic optimization problems (DOPs) in MATLAB and Simulink. This type of infinite-dimensional optimization problem is frequently seen in optimal control, state and parameter estimation, system identification and engineering design problems, where dynamic models are employed.

The toolbox builds on a wide selection of numerical transcription and discretization methods, as well as automated tools to assist the design and implementation of DOPs. The aim is to provide the first port of call for solving different types of challenging DOPs. The suite of solution techniques implemented in ICLOCS significantly increases the chance of successfully solving difficult problems to a high accuracy. In addition, ICLOCS is also designed for prototyping implementations on embedded processors. The package offers the user flexibility in trading off the solution quality with the computational complexity.

The result is a comprehensive toolbox that is capable of efficiently solving and implementing a wide variety of challenging DOPs. Consequently, users may implement the DOPs in a straightforward manner, making nonlinear optimal control available to a broader range of application fields. In addition to internal and collaborative research in aerospace, energy and healthcare sectors, ICLOCS has also appeared in publications helping researchers in a wide range of fields (e.g. electrical and electronics engineering, robotics, autonomous driving) to address their respective challenges.

The software is open source and released under an MIT licence. You can find the source code and further details in the project’s GitHub repository.

RSE Bytes


Blog posts, tools & more

Some reminders…

RS Community Slack

The Imperial Research Software Community Slack workspace is a place for general community discussion as well as featuring channels for individuals interested in 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 there is the #DeepLearners channel for AI/ML-related questions and discussion. 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.

Research Computing Tips

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.

Research Software Directory

Imperial’s Research Software Directory provides details of a range of research software and tools developed by groups and individuals at the College. If you’d like to see your software included in the directory, you can open a pull request in the GitHub repository or get in touch with the Research Software Community Committee.

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 Research Software Community Mailing List.

This issue of the Research Software Community Newsletter was edited by Jeremy Cohen. All previous newsletters are available in our online archive.