Buttle's World

11 February, 2010

Good Science is Open Science

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 18:22

As I mentioned before, the “Climategate” emails were not such a big deal. The computer code, on the other hand, was.

Here’s a good explanation (in The Guardian, of all places) of why it’s important to release the code.

Hatton and other researchers’ work indicates that scientific software is often of poor quality. What is staggering about the research that has been done is that it examines commercial scientific software – produced by software engineers who have to undergo a regime of thorough testing, quality assurance and a change control discipline known as configuration management.

By contrast scientific software developed in our universities and research institutes is often produced by scientists with no training in software engineering and with no quality mechanisms in place and so, no doubt, the occurrence of errors will be even higher. The Climate Research Unit’s “Harry ReadMe” files are a graphic indication of such working conditions, containing as they do the outpouring of a programmer’s frustrations in trying to get sets of data to conform to a specification.

You wouldn’t trust your encryption to software that wasn’t open. There’s no reason to trust any other critical software that isn’t, especially if the results might be influencing policy.

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