Better Scientific Software Tutorial
2:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Tue Feb 4, 2020
Founders IV (Classroom - Max Capacity: 60)



Producing scientific software is a challenge. The Exascale Computing Project, in particular, encompasses the confluence of disruptive changes in computing architectures and new opportunities (and demands) for greatly improved simulation capabilities, especially through coupling physics and scales.  At the same time, computational science and engineering (CSE), as well as other areas of science, are experiencing increasing focus on scientific reproducibility and software quality.

Computer architecture changes require new software design and implementation strategies, including significant refactoring of existing code. Reproducibility demands require more rigor across the entire software endeavor. Code coupling requires aggregate team interactions including integration of software processes and practices. These challenges demand large investments in scientific software development and improved practices.  Focusing on improved developer productivity and software sustainability is both urgent and essential.

This half-day tutorial distills multi-project and multi-years experience from members of the IDEAS Productivity project and the creators of the community website. The tutorial will provide information about software practices, processes, and tools explicitly tailored for CSE. Topics to be covered include: Agile methodologies and tools, software design and refactoring, testing and test-driven development (TDD), and Git workflows for teams. Material will be mostly at the beginner and intermediate levels. There will also be opportunities to discuss topics raised by the audience.


We are proposing a half-day variant of our Better Scientific Software tutorial, which we have been presenting and refining since 2016 at venues including ATPESC (2016-2019), SC (2016-2019), SIAM CSE (2017), and prior ECP AMs (2018-2019).  The proposed set of topics was developed in discussion with Ashley Barkey, but we have other modules we could present instead (or in addition), if the committee recommends.  Options include (in no particular order): reproducibility, licensing, documentation strategies, code coverage, requirements gathering.

A basic goal of this tutorial is to give participants tools and strategies to start thinking systematically about their software development practices and realize that they don‚Äôt have to be overwhelmed by the challenges they face. The material will be at the beginner and intermediate levels, making it accessible to a wide range of ECP AM attendees, but particularly relatively junior participants who may be less experienced with all aspects of computational science and engineering software development.  There are no particular prerequisites for attendees.  Because of the 3-hour time frame, we do not plan significant hands-on content.

This tutorial will be complementary (not overlapping) with other activities proposed by the IDEAS team, as well as the Continuous Integration team.

David Bernholdt Distinguished R&d Staff Member And Group Leader, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Anshu Dubey Computer Scientist, Argonne National Laboratory
James Willenbring Senior Member Of R&d Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories
Paul Wolfenbarger Principal member of the technical staff, Sandia National Laboratories

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