The True Bottleneck of Modern Scientific Computing in Astronomy

Just read an interesting post by Bruce Berriman on scientific computing and how it does not "compute" for astronomy at time. Bruce points us to an interesting paper entitled "The True Bottleneck of Modern Scientific Computing in Astronomy" (pdf) by Igor Chilingarian and Ivan Zolotukhin where they analyze the state of scientific computing in astronomy and offer a few examples about what's going wrong and what's starting to go right.

It wasgreat to see that 2 very visible project in MAST have been mentioned as "doinging it right": HLA and GALEXView.

However, here's the comment I posted on Bruce's blog:

"I completely agree with you and this latest paper. Incidentally two of MAST’s projects (HLA and GALEXView) are recognized as “Good Examples of Technologically Advanced Project”.However, to this day in large collaborations like the VAO those writing standards and code are mostly astronomer. Astronomers came up with an unmanageable VOTable XML: un-parsable by any standard XML tools out there and based on the great, and yet old, FITS standard. Upgrading to something like JSON or more modern object description is not in the plans. Many of VAO protocols are not rooted in CS reality: look at SIAP. The GIS community has had standards for SIAP-like services for 20 years and none of them has made it into the VAO. Take a look at messaging (SAMP). No lesson has been learned, and no protocol has been implemented using the 20+ years of experience of protocols used in, say, the financial industry for massive messaging…

Until astronomers continue to think they have special data, astronomy will be an island full of F77 books :)"



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