Code Coffee: One-line guides to getting started in astro computing

I was away on my travels last week, so I missed the first Code Coffee of the new term here in Oxford. Joe Zuntz was present to officiate, though, and led a discussion (allegedly) for the benefit of our new doctoral students, who’d just arrived at that point. The result was a collection of “one-line guides” on getting started with astrophysics-style computing and programming, which I’ve copied below. (Be warned: It’s a little Oxford-specific in parts.)

Getting help

Answering Questions

Training

Don’t code maths!

Numerical Methods

General coding advice

Files

  • Don’t invent your own file formats.
  • FITS tables are not a great format. Consider using HDF instead.

Compilers

  • GNU: gcc, g++, gfortran (freely-available, cross-platform)
  • Intel: icc, ifort (tend to be faster for some applications)
  • Avoid mixing Intel/GNU compilers, and different versions of the compilers, when using Fortran. The compiled Fortran modules that are produced may not be compatible between different versions.

Best Practices

About Phil Bull

I'm a theoretical cosmologist, currently working as a NASA NPP fellow at JPL/Caltech in Pasadena, CA. My research focuses on the effects of inhomogeneities on the evolution of the Universe and how we measure it. I'm also keen on stochastic processes, scientific computing, the philosophy of science, and open source stuff. View all posts by Phil Bull

2 responses to “Code Coffee: One-line guides to getting started in astro computing

  • Phillip Helbig

    “Avoid mixing Intel/GNU compilers, and different versions of the compilers, when using Fortran. The compiled Fortran modules that are produced may not be compatible between different versions.”

    Surely this advice should be much more general, i.e. the expectation should be that everything should be compiled with the same compiler (except on VMS of course where, with the DEC compilers and linker, it is common to use several programming languages in one executable).

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