Progress report for University of Warwick
Reporting period from March 2017 to January 2018
Finance and administration
The Warwick team’s financial position is tracked by administrative staff at the Warwick Mathematics Institute, who also maintain time-sheets for the ODK-funded staff at Warwick. The team’s current financial position is on track.
Chris Brady was hired as a Research Software Engineer from April 2017. Thanks to joint funding from Warwick’s Research Technology Platform in Scientific Computing, Chris’s post is permanent, and he is also leading a new team of RSEs at Warwick in addition to ODK work. In June, Chris was joined by Heather Ratcliffe, also with joint funding, and since then Chris and Heather have each been devoting 35% of their time to ODK work. Both are working on the LMFDB side of WP6, under the direction of John Cremona, and since September 2017 are also collaborating with Warwick LMFDB postdoc David Lowry-Duda, who is not ODK-funded.
In order to familiarise himself with the LMFDB codebase, concepts and development model Chris Brady first developed a simple (but still useful) interface between the LMFDB’s Number Fields Collection and Sage. Since June 2017, he and Heather Ratcliffe have developed a live inventory system for the LMFDB, which is now part of the database itself (so the LMFDB database is now, in a sense, self-documenting). A prototype was presented at an LMFDB workshop in Warwick in June 2017 to receive early feedback from LMFDB developers. In December 2017, after much testing a fine-tuning by a small set of developers, the first release was made (accessible from beta.lmfdb.org/inventory) which can be used by all LMFDB developers. As well as being a necessary base on which to build a new API for the LMFDB, by documenting precisely what objects and types are stored in the database, the existence of this inventory has already revealed some inconsistencies in certain LMFDB collections which are now able to be addressed.
Work in progress
Since January 2018 work has started on designing a second-generation API for the LMFDB, in collaboration with the Erlangen group for a Math-in-the-Middle interface as well as Sage developers for the Sage interface. The first collections to be treated will be Elliptic Curves over Q and Number Fields which have the advantage of there already existing well-developed Sage classes for such objects, something which is not the case for many of objects stored in the LMFDB collections. Since early 2018 there have been regular online meetings (via conference calls) between the Warwick and Erlangen groups at which the Warwick team has learned more about the MitM interface and reciprocally, the MitM developers have learned more about the requirements for an interface with the LMFDB. This has resulted in a draft document concerning Types and codecs, a detailed mathematical Use Case, as well as some other less detailed possible future use cases.
Workshops and dissemination activities
The June 2017 LMFDB workshop was an opportunity to introduce Chris and Heather to a wider group of LMFDB developers. Their ODK-funded work on the inventory is already in daily use by LMFDB developers.
A new Simons Collaboration on Arithmetic Geometry, Number Theory, and Computation (https://icerm.brown.edu/simonscollaboration/) started in the northeast US in July 2017, with LMFDB development as one of its aims. John Cremona is an Affiliated Scientist with this collaboration, and he will represent ODK at its first biannual conference on algorithmic number theory at MIT in August 2018.