Program Details

Primary Goal: To build awareness and practice with practical computing skills, as encountered in multiple scientific fields.

Graduate students entering their first summer (having just completed their first year of coursework) will typically spend that first Summer getting oriented and brought up to speed in their research group. For many modern research fields a significant part of this orientation involves learning and understanding basic computing practices, statistics, and applications. Rather than have faculty “reinvent the wheel” every time they acquire a new student, this workshop aims to provide this training in an annual, standardized format.

The primary goal of this workshop is to provide graduate students with an awareness of applied computing and statistical techniques, basic practice with these techniques, an awareness and understanding of Temple’s computing resources (such as Owl’s Nest), and to orient them on the research being done across CST. Secondary goals include building cross-disciplinary awareness, a cross-disciplinary cohort, proficiency in the covered methods, and an awareness of advanced applications of these methods.

Note that “awareness” is a primary goal, while “proficiency” is a secondary goal. We do not expect students to become experts in a 3-week period, but we do expect them to become broadly oriented within applied scientific computing. They will “know what they need to know,” including details, and have an improved awareness of other potentially useful or alternative techniques.

The first week of this workshop will be devoted to programming and visualization. We are currently focusing on Unix and Unix-like terminals, the Python programming language (due to its popularity, flexibility, numerous free scientific libraries, and ease-of-use), style guide basics, and code versioning (currently through Git/Github). Other languages or techniques can be covered if there is sufficient demand, although these may be excellent topics for presentations (see below).

The second week of the workshop will focus on statistical techniques, including underlying theory and potential pitfalls. Bayesian statistics and machine learning will be a large part of this week. The last day, time permitting, will be devoted to students networking with others through short, “lightning round” presentations introducing themselves, illustrating techniques that are used (or could be useful) in their current and future work, and fostering potential cross-disciplinary connections.

For Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of weeks 1 and 2 we expect to begin with 2 hours of lecture (with breaks and interactive parts were appropriate), then break for an open “coffee and coding” session, were coffee and light refreshments will be provided. A volunteer (possibly an instructor) will connect their computer to the overhead projector and allow others to follow along (“live coding”). Students are free to work at their own pace and collaborate as they wish. Coffee and coding will be scheduled as a two hour block, but students will only be expected to stay for ~30 minutes.

The first Friday of the workshop will be presented by the High Performance Computing (HPC) team at Temple, to familiarize students with HPC resources available at Temple. Students will create accounts and run simple jobs on the shared computing cluster during that day. A summary of one’s research and what techniques are used, including some details on those techniques.

By the end of the workshop, students who have met the goals of the workshop (attendance and participation) will be presented with an informal certificate indicating completion of the workshop. This certificate will serve mainly as proof of engagement and completion for the student’s faculty sponsor. A list of “graduates” from the workshop will be maintained by the workshop administrators for future reference.