First Workshop on Sustainable Software for Science: Practice and Experiences (WSSSPE1)

(held in conjunction with SC13, room 503, Sunday, 17 November 2013, Denver, CO, USA)

Progress in scientific research is dependent on the quality and accessibility of software at all levels and it is now critical to address many new challenges related to the development, deployment, and maintenance of reusable software. In addition, it is essential that scientists, researchers, and students are able to learn and adopt a new set of software-related skills and methodologies. Established researchers are already acquiring some of these skills, and in particular a specialized class of software developers is emerging in academic environments who are an integral and embedded part of successful research teams. This workshop will provide a forum for discussion of the challenges, including both positions and experiences. The short papers and discussion will be archived as a basis for continued discussion, and we intend the workshop to feed into the collaborative writing of one or more journal publications.

In practice, scientific software activities are part of an ecosystem where key roles are held by developers, users, and funders.  All three groups supply resources to the ecosystem, as well as requirements that bound it.  Roughly following the example of NSF’s Vision and Strategy for Software, the ecosystem may be viewed as having challenges related to:

  • the development process that leads to new software
    • how fundamental research in computer science or science/engineering domains is turned  into reusable software
    • software created as a by-product of research
    • impact of computer science research on the development of scientific software
  • the support and maintenance of existing software, including
    • software engineering
    • governance, business, and sustainability models
    • the role of community software repositories, their operation and sustainability
  • the role of open source communities or industry
  • use of the software
    • growing communities
    • reproducibility, transparency needs that may be unique to science
  • policy issues, such as
    • measuring usage and impact
    • software credit, attribution, incentive, and reward
    • career paths for developers and institutional roles
    • issues related to multiple organizations and multiple countries, such as intellectual property, licensing, etc.
    • mechanisms and venues for publishing software, and the role of publishers
  • education and training

This workshop is interested in all of the above topics.  We’ve now posted the list of initial agenda. We plan to have two keynotes, three panels (one on each of the top-level topics from the contributions), and a closing discussion. We are currently determining panelists, who we will ask to summarize some of the key points, similarities, differences, etc. in a set of the papers from that topic. We will also plan one or more papers to be collaboratively developed by the contributors, based on the panels and discussions.