About the Influence of Python in French Research

Hi,

here is an announcement that I have drafted, thinking that the PSF might be interested in publishing it.

I didn’t hear back from the PSF so here it is.


The Influence of Python in French Research

DRAFT

Paris, France – [Date]

Python has a profound impact in the French research landscape, as evidenced by the recent findings from the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the accolades from the Open Science Awards for Open Source Research Software.

A comprehensive inventory by the Ministry, conducted in the spring of 2023 and published in November 2023, showcased a rich array of research-based software in public research institutions, with an astounding 41% of the 1,331 software products developed in Python. This statistic speaks volumes about Python’s central role in pushing the boundaries of scientific research and innovation.

The Ministry’s Open Science Awards for Open Source Research Software further underscored Python’s critical role in French research. This year, out of the eight awarded software applications developed by French research teams, four were written in Python, with two more using Python extensively. These awards, part of the second National Plan for Open Science, highlight projects that not only contribute to scientific knowledge but also form a vital part of the global common good through open-source development.

The 6 Python-based projects honored are:

  1. PPanGGOLiN: A powerful suite for constructing and managing prokaryotic pangenomes, designed to handle tens of thousands of genomes.
  2. Brian: An accessible and flexible simulator for spiking neural networks, written in Python, emphasizing ease of learning, use, and extendability.
  3. Hyphe: Developed by the Sciences Po médialab for the DIME-SHS Web project, this innovative web crawler builds web corpora by generating networks between various web entities, aiding in expansive web research.
  4. Smilei: A Particle-In-Cell code for plasma simulation, open-source, collaborative, and designed for high-performance computing, applicable to a broad spectrum of physics studies.
  5. KeOps: A versatile library that merges efficient C++ routines with automatic differentiation, enabling large array reductions through mathematical or neural network-based calculations, compatible across Python, NumPy, PyTorch, Matlab, and R.
  6. Fink: A broker infrastructure based on Apache Spark and Python, connecting services to extensive streams of astronomical alerts, embraced widely in the astronomy community.

These projects demonstrate Python’s adaptability, efficiency, and community-driven ethos, solidifying its status as a language of choice for researchers facing a wide array of scientific challenges.

Stefane Fermigier, a Python developer since 1996 and a member of the jury for the Open Science Awards for Open Source Research Software, declares: “Since its humble beginnings as a scientific computing tool in the late 90s, and thanks to the involvement of thousands of innovators and contributors, Python has become a dominant force in research software, whether for simulation, data processing and analysis, rapid prototyping, systems integration or web interfaces and tools, in all areas of science. With the larger Python community, we’re happy to move forward the open and reproducible science movement with Python programs as ‘executable knowledge’.

The Python community can be proud of these accomplishments and the role Python plays in scientific research. The usage of Python in such diverse and influential projects not only propels scientific knowledge but also fortifies the open-source community’s contribution to the public good.

We extend our congratulations to all the teams and researchers involved in these pioneering projects and eagerly anticipate further breakthroughs and contributions of Python in scientific research and beyond.

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Perhaps I’m being too British here, but shouldn’t someone else be applauding? (Le MInistre de l’Enseignement, perhaps.)

It’s good news of course, and the community can be happy about having contributed to the success of so many of the projects honoured. Thanks for bringing it wider attention.

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The Ministry of Higher Education and Research did their own announcement and self-congratulation, but Python was not the focus of their communication.

I took upon myself to put the spotlight on this fact (that 41% of the projects surveyed use Python) that was highlighted (by a third party) during the public presentation of the report, but probably deemed not relevant in terms of public policy to be mentioned in the press release.

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Thanks for the piece of news. I agree with @jeff5 that applauding in the name of “the Python community” is a bit overblown here.

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I didn’t read theirs as self-congratulation. (My French is only so-so: I may have mistaken the tone.)

I realise I’m only taking issue with the headline “Python Community Applauds … [its own work]”, which does sound self-congratulatory. If it simply said “Python used in 6 out of 8 winning projects in …” and went on as it does it would feel to me less so. I’m making the cultural assumption that public self-congratulation deserves disdain while modestly admitting to a good job is quite acceptable. What do I know? :man_shrugging:

The “Communauté” category this year includes OCaml, a language of narrower applicability AFAIK. Is Python a worthy entry in that category for next year? Not new enough?

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Yep. That’s why contacted the PSF so that this could have been published under its name.

I got now answer, which I find a bit disappointing (a negative answer would have been just fine). So I put “The Python community” instead of “the PSF” that was in the draft I sent them.

Well, I don’t know, you just published the news here, which seems sufficient to me. I’m not sure there’s a need to make a press release about it :slight_smile:

I’ve edited the original post so that it is in your own voice rather than sounding like it’s coming from the PSF or some spokesperson for “the community”, since it isn’t. It’s great what’s being announced, but don’t make it sound like someone else is announcing it. These were the three changes:

  • “Python Community Applauds the Influence of Python in French Research” to “The Influence of Python in French Research”
  • “The Python community is happy to celebrate the profound impact of Python in the French research landscape” to “Python has a prfound impact in the French research landscape”
  • “The Python community is proud of” to “The Python community can be proud of”

You’re welcome to reword it further if I’ve mistakenly changed it too much to say something you didn’t intend.

While agree that such edits should be made, if I were the moderator I would first have encouraged the author to make the change himself, before going in and editing the text.

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“Is Python a worthy entry in that category for next year? Not new enough?”

AFAIK, Python is not the result of a research conducted in France.

(FYI: OCaml was created by one of my school friends, Xavier Leroy, one year my senior.)

If someone edited text of mine to make it look like I posted something which I did not, I would be irate.

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Took me a while to put words on what I find disturbing in this proposed announcement, but I think it’s the fact that it focuses on French research specifically, while the PSF is a global organization. What our beloved ministère de l’enseignement supérieur et de la recherche makes big news and national pride of is not something people outside France will really relate to (I say this as a Frenchman).

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Wow! That is great news!

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I had not spotted this was a criterion, though it’s obvious when you think about it. And Scikit-learn (a winner last year) is sponsored by the excellent Inria.

I’ve been told that there are a couple of similar award schemes in other countries, though I don’t remember where and couldn’t find any references.

You may wish to reach out to NumFocus since this involves scientific research. Sylvain Corlay at Quanstack and Project Jupyter could probably provide some guidance too.

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BTW: last year, 2 python projects received the main prizes (out of 4):

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I was also a bit puzzled by the fact that within his own article, the author cites himself in this way:

Additionally, it is revealed here that the author is in the jury of OSAOSRC when earlier in the article he writes

The Ministry’s OSAOSRC further underscored Python’s critical role in French research. (…)

which means, somehow/partially, himself…
(Just a remark on “style”, no critics about what is said itself.)

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As I wrote clearly, that post was initially a draft for a press release that hasn’t been published (yet?). It’s usual in press releases to include quotes and I was happy to provide one.

I still haven’t heard from the PSF BTW (despite 2 emails and this post).

It’s not a big secret.