Undergraduate praised for 'extraordinarily impactful' open-source work

"Lucas' work was extraordinarily impactful and I say without exaggeration that it will be used by millions of people worldwide." This is what Dr Irwin Zaid, Lecturer in Computer Science at Christ Church, had to say about the open-source work completed by second-year Computer Science & Philosophy undergraduate Lucas Colley. 

Read on to learn about Lucas' impressive work, in his own words. 

'This summer, I had the amazing opportunity of working on open source software for three months from July through September. I contributed code to SciPy, an open source numerical computing library in Python. SciPy is a building block for research in science and technology, with hundreds of thousands of other projects that depend on it, and extremely popular, with millions of downloads per year. It is developed and maintained by a community largely of volunteers, and can be used by anyone for public good or business. It is fundamental to a range of work that relies on manipulating numbers with computers – examples of its use include the team which made the first image of a black hole and the team behind NASA's Mars rover "Perseverance".

'My project was to make progress towards SciPy's goal of adopting support for the array API standard, which will allow users to use SciPy functions with a wide range of array libraries. This means that users will be able to take advantage of performance boosts from hardware accelerators (like GPUs) and distributed computing to improve the efficiency of their programs. Work towards this goal improves interoperability between existing tools, as well as enabling compatibility with future tools, which will help to reduce the overall maintenance time required for these tools in the future.

'One of my main achievements was adding support to an entire SciPy submodule, its collection of Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) functions. I also wrote a blog post about my work and related work of others, to help the community in continuing my work.

'Going from having never contributed to open source to feeling proficient as a contributor, and having significant contributions merged towards a bleeding-edge project, was a challenging but very special experience! The opportunity to start contributing to open source under the mentorship of highly experienced developers was a rare and valuable one. Getting the practical experience of collaborating on a large codebase was also hugely beneficial. I enjoyed applying the theory which I have studied at Oxford to the “real world”, where I have developed my software engineering skills and contributed to science in my own small way. The experience will certainly be useful in the future whatever I decide to do.

'I would like to thank Dr Irwin Zaid, my Computer Science tutor, for helping to create this opportunity and Christ Church, for funding my work through the Summer Bursary scheme!' 

Array API