Pydata London 2015

I’ve just spent the weekend at the Pydata London conference. It was great. I’m really more data science adjacent than a data scientist, so I’m not precisely the target audience, so I suspect if you are a data scientist it would have been amazing and you should go next year.

Obviously the true highlight of the conference was the 5 minute lightning talk I gave at the end in which I totally stole the show (note: This is not true. But peopled seemed to like it). I demoed using Hypothesis to test an optimization function. If you’re interested, slides are here, and there’s also a very rough script which I didn’t really follow but gives you an idea of what I was doing.

The actual highlights for me were:

  • Romain Guillebert talking about pypy, C extensions, and in particular about pymetabiosis, which lets you use C extensions seamlessly from pypy by embedding CPython as a library inside pypy using CFFI (!!). This is a pretty great idea.
  • Juan Luis Cano’s lightning talk about poliastro, a python astrodynamics library.
  • James Powell’s talk “Integrating with the vernacular”, which was basically a talk about how weird numpy is and made me go “oh god someone understands my pain” as he enumerated everything that has ever given me problems with supporting and using it. Don’t get me wrong, numpy is great, but it is so weird, and it doesn’t obey the contracts of any of the standard methods it implements.

Obviously this exposes my “not really a data scientist” biases and other people will have a different set of highlights.

I also collected a bunch of interesting projects to look into further:

  • Apache Tika and textract both look vastly better than the tools I had available last time I wanted to turn arbitrary document formats into text.
  • I already knew about this one, but I was reminded that pymc is a thing I really need to have a proper play with.
  • theano looks pretty great for doing computation heavy stuff from Python.
  • The Github organisation page for the Harvard Intelligent Probabilistic Systems Group looks fascinating. I’m going to have to do a trawl through their projects at some point.

Best quote of the conference for me:

This was suggested specifically for numpy and similar because it helps numfocus, the non-profit foundation supporting them, to get funding, but I think it is also both intended and true in general.

Thanks once again to Pydata and its organising team for putting on a great conference.

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