Archive for June, 2013

June 18th, 2013

I was recently chatting to a research group who were considering moving to Python from MATLAB for some of their research software output.  One team member was very worried about Python’s use of indentation to denote blocks of code and wondered if braces would ever find their way into the language?  Another team member pointed out that this was extremely unlikely and invited us to attempt to import braces from the __future__ module.

>>> from __future__ import braces
  File "", line 1
SyntaxError: not a chance
June 2nd, 2013

Welcome to the latest Month of Math Software where I look back over May 2013 and pick out items of interest in the world of mathematical software.  As always, thanks to everyone who contributed news items this month– I couldn’t do these posts without you.  Feel free to contact me if you have any news you’d like to share in future editions.

Connecting MATLAB with Mathematica

  • MATLink is a free project that connects Mathematica with MATLAB.  If you are lucky enough to have both systems, you can now use them seamlessly together.  Version 1.0 was released in May.

Octave news

GNU Octave is an open source system for numerical computing that is broadly compatible with MATLAB.

  • Michael Goffioul has compiled and released GNU Octave 3.6.4 for Windows using Microsoft Visual Studio.  Michael’s builds are the ones I prefer to use on Windows systems.  The installer includes 82 packages from Octave Forge (Octave Forge packages are the Octave analogue of MATLAB Toolboxes).  It doesn’t appear to include the experimental Graphical User Interface that’s being worked on by the Octave team.
  • OctConf 2013 is a conference that brings together users and developers of Octave.  This year it is held in Milan and user registration is now open.  I sincerely wish I could attend but my personal life has gotten in the way!
  • Google’s Summer of Code (GSoC) awards stipends to students to work on various open source projects.  This year, Octave will have 9 students working under the auspices of this program.  Here are the detaills (The original source for this is at
    • Ahsan Said will be working on the Agora website (  His mentor is Jordi Gutiérrez Hermoso
    • Vytautas Jančauskas will fix audio processing for Octave.  He will be mentored by Mike Miller.
    • Gedeone will implement a general purpose finite element method library. His mentor is Carlo de Falco.
    • Andrej Lojdl  wants to give Octave a native TeX rendering engine for plots. Patric Noffke is his mentor.
    • Carnë Draug needs to polish the Octave-Forge image processing package for his PhD thesis and make it handle N-dimensional images.  Jordi Gutiérrez Hermoso is mentoring.
    • Matheus Vieira Portela will produce a GUI for manipulating closed-loop systems and incorporate it into the control package. Doug Stewart is his mentor.
    • Riupeng Li will incorporate incomplete sparse LU and Cholesky factorisations. Mentors will be  Youssef Saad, originator of the ITSOL library  and Carlo de Falco.
    • Kai Torben Ohlhus will also coordinate with Riupeng and Carlo and work on other parts of the sparse LU and Cholesky factorisations. Nir Krakauer will be the Mentor.
    • LYH will continue Max Brister’s previous GSoC work for giving Octave a JIT compiler, and John Eaton will mentor him.

Numerical Algorithms Group

Maple’s 25th Birthday

Linear Algebra

Free Stuff


  • CUTEst, the latest evolution of the constrained and unconstrained testing environment for numerical optimization by Nick Gould, Dominique Orban and Philippe Toint is now available at 
  • NOMAD is a blackbox optimisation software that’s just been updated to version 3.6

Finite Elements and PDEs

  • Wolfrgang Bangerth of Texas A&M University has recorded a set of lectures on various aspects of finite elements and scientific computing.  It has a focus on the deal.II library but also discusses more general scientific computing topics such as which preconditioners to use, adaptive mesh refinement, time dependent problems, parallel computing, using tools such as Visit, Paraview and Eclipse, debugging, etc.
  • PETSc version 3.4 was released in May.  PETSc is a suite of data structures and routines for the scalable (parallel) solution of scientific applications modeled by partial differential equations.  Notable new features include a system for managing unstructured grids with PDE solvers in DMPlex.  Capability and performance improvements to the algebraic multigrid preconditioners PCGAMG, many new nonlinear solvers in SNES, many improvements to the ODE solvers in TS including the new TSEIMEX, and support for parallel dense linear algebra using MatElemental.  The library also has better encapsulation and better control of symbols.

GPU Accelerated Mathematics


  • A new version of RStudio, the free Integrated Development Environment, for R has been released.  Version 0.97.551 has got lots of new goodies.

 From the blogs