Northwest Python Day

Northwest Python Day

This weekend I attended the Northwest Python day. Actually, more properly, I attended the afternoon half of Northwest Python day. We’ve had some illnesses making the rounds in our house, and we had to do some creative schedule juggling on Saturday. In any case, the day was organized mostly by people from the Seattle Python User’s group, and run in a very low key fashion. The organizers managed to secure a decent size room at the University of Washington, and people worked together to bring some food and so forth. The program consisted of presentations that people volunteered to do – we had just enough to fill the day. A Python get together of any decent size just isn’t complete unless there are lightning talks, so there were two sets of lightning talks during the day.

My favorite talk of the day was William Stein’s talk about the Sage symbolic math system. Sage is a system in the flavor of Mathematica, Maple, or Matlab, and if you need to do any kind of symbolic math at all, this seems like something that is well worth looking at. One thing that I particularly liked was the use of a local web browser as a way of maintaining the worksheet/notebook workspace that is common to this class of applications. I was impressed to learn that Sage’s UI code actually contains a Javascript translation of the TeX layout engine for math, which is the gold standard for formatting math of any kind. Very cool stuff. I gave a talk on some of the Python projects that we have underway at Sun, and I tried to motivate my description of those projects with a bigger picture look at the state of the “market” for dynamic languages. The talk included some of the material that I used for my PyCon UK keynote and added some more Sun specific details.

This was my first conference of the year, and a good start.

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