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Do you know NumFOCUS?

10 March 2020

What do Julia, Stan and Pandas all have in common? They’re all open source projects sponsored by NumFOCUS, an organisation set up to promote open practices in scientific computing.

In fact NumFOCUS supports 33 sponsored projects and a further 32 affiliated projects all contributing valuable tools for the advancement of scientific research around the world. With the recent publication of the NumFOCUS annual report we look at some of the highlights from the past year.

Whatever your research domain, there is a good chance that at least part of your workflow depends upon open source software. It can be easy to overlook this vital contribution to the scientific community, particularly when everything works as expected, but behind the scenes there’s a lot more to organising an open source project than setting up a public GitHub repository. For one thing, many open source projects rely on full-time staff and NumFOCUS provides the legal, financial and operational services they rely on to attract funding and remain sustainable over the long term.

There are many familiar names in the list of tools which have received major grant funding in 2019 including awards from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to pandas, Matplotlib, NumPy, Project Jupyter, SciPy and Zarr and a $900,000 grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore foundation for Astropy.

NumFOCUS also provides direct financial support by awarding small grants of up to $5000 to help open source tools to reach major releases more quickly and work on their usability, documentation, and community engagement. In 2019 $76,310 in small grants was awarded to sponsored or affiliated projects.

NumFOCUS also recognise substantial contributions to their projects from members of the community at the annual NumFOCUS awards and we were pleased to see our very own Mosè Giordano receive an award for his work on helping Julia package developers with their binary dependencies.

We’d really recommend exploring the NumFOCUS website to find out more about the great work they do and to find out how to get involved.