Reproducible scientific computing

Greg Wilson gave a great interview on the IT Conversations podcast recently. He says the emphasis on HPC draws time and energy away from quality concerns, and may not even help scientists get their results faster. While some problems definitely require HPC, most could be solved faster by developing software in the simpler environment of a single PC and waiting longer for it to run.

I’ve written here about reproducibility problems in statistics and in general software development. Apparently there are similar problems in every area of scientific computing. For example, Wilson quotes a survey of computational economics articles that found that 70% of the results could not be reproduced a year after publication. I doubt that computational economics is worse than other fields.

Wilson says he wants to make raise the reproducibility expectations in computational research closer to those common in physical research. I admire his efforts, but it’s a sad commentary that reproducibility standards are lower in computational science than in physical science.

Related: Scientific and statistical computing

One thought on “Reproducible scientific computing

  1. I think it is related to the observation that the typical <insert profession here> thinks that any darn fool can write software, and then proceeds to prove it.

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