A New York Times story by Kenneth Chang, says Simons feels he has identified a weakness in academia, where science students in research so often turn to computer programming only because it is necessary to their research.
As they move up or out of their profession their software tool creations go too. No V.2.'s
The software that derives from the “Flatiron Institute’s” efforts will be made available for all scientists, it is said. Up first: Computational biology. Big data analytics seems to be a special focus.
I am not sure about the premise. So many great programmers started as students in the sciences! So much in high performance computing was driven by academic scientist too.
Many of the recent advances in big data have happened beyond the ken of science and academia, it’s true. But Spark? Machine learning? Well, much of that work came out of the academy.
From a press release:
The FI is the first multidisciplinary institute focused entirely on computation. It is also the first center of its kind to be wholly supported by private philanthropy, providing a permanent home for up to 250 scientists and collaborating expert programmers all working together to create, deploy and support new state-of-the-art computational methods. Few existing institutions support the combination of scientists and programmers, instead leaving programming to relatively impermanent graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and none have done so at the scale of the Flatiron Institute or with such a broad scope, at a single location...The institute will hold conferences and meetings and serve as a focal point for computational science around the world.
Would it be good to have a new effort that served as a new hub for advances in scientific computation? Yes. This will be an interesting development to watch. – Jack Vaughan