Opensource software for research – a 15 mins talk

All PhD students in our department (EE), in the Lyle school of engineering (SMU), are required to give a 15-min lunch-time talk in front of fellow PhD students and professors at least once every semester. This short-time talk/presentation, called the “Brown Bag Talk,” is meant to help PhD students in many ways, such as improving presentation skills, networking skills, etc. In addition, it encourages interaction among students, who are usually working in their own problems, to know about others’ work. However, the talk is not necessarily limited to one’s own PhD problem.

So, when it was my turn to lecture, I decided to talk about the use of open-source tools in research. In particular, I wanted to concentrate on two open-source tools that I regularly use in my everyday work — Python and Zotero. Zotero and its other free and open-source alternative, Mendeley, are very powerful and easy to use citation management system with lots of other useful capabilities. I also demonstrated few of the useful features of Zotero and some of the interesting language capabilities of Python during the presentation.

Here are the slides (images) from the presentation. The presentation contain animations,  so I have provided a link  to download the slides (powerpoint) from slideboom at the end of this post. Please feel free to use it as it may seem fit.

slide01 slide02

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Past four months

It has been several months (almost four) since I jotted down my thoughts into this blog. Although, I wanted to be more active in my second attempt at blogging, it is clear that I haven’t been able to do so. Happily, the excuse that I can offer is that I have been spending a lot of time on online courses at Udacity (Introduction to Statistics) and Coursera (Machine Learning), and the Python programming language which I got introduced during the STAT course. Of course,  I  have also been working on my research problem apart from the Python, ML and Statistics.

I really love the concept of open, online education (Massive open online course or MOOC), and I firmly believe that it is the future of how we learn, and stay relevant in our profession throughout our lives. Gone are those days when a college degree was enough to sail us through our lives. Anyways, I am planning to blog about the impact of free, online education on the society at large, and on my own experiences sometime soon. While taking the statistics course, I also got introduced to Python programming language, and I have fallen in love with it. I have decided to write most of my code henceforth in Python, and the related tools relevant in scientific research, such as Numpy, Scipy, etc. I shall also write a separate blog post about Python soon.