Ruby has no equivalent to the beautifully constructed numpy, scipy, and matplotlib libraries for Python. We believe that the time for a Ruby science and visualization package has come and gone. Sometimes when a solution of sugar and water becomes super-saturated, from it precipitates a pure, delicious, and diabetes-inducing crystal of sweetness, induced by no more than the tap of a finger. So it is, we believe, with the need for numeric and visualization libraries in Ruby.
We are not the first with this idea, but we want to bring it to life.
Who We Are
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Currently, we are:
- John T. Prince, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Brigham Young University
- John O. Woods, Marcotte Lab, The University of Texas at Austin
First and least, Ruby is a language with a sense of humor.
But more importantly, numerical computation and visualization can be done much better in Ruby, for a number of reasons:
- Everything returns a value. Ruby's better object model means better of chaining of computation.
- Iterators are way better than for loops.
- Readability. Ruby is incredibly readable, which makes it uber-maintainable.
- Metaprogramming. Sometimes the simplest solution is to write a code generator. Sometimes, eigenclasses are the cleanest.
- Integration into Rails. The influence of Rails on Ruby is undeniable. Web-based visualization for scientific projects is the future.
- R is nice but clunky. The learning curve is enormous. It does some things very well, and others not very well at all.
Alternatives and Sources of Inspiration
- rsruby, rinruby, simpler: gems which connect Ruby to R
- NArray: Numerical Ruby NArray and Ruby/PGPLOT.
- Ruby GSL: Ruby interface for the GNU Scientific Library
Numeric Array and Matrix Library
Goals: Stable, robust, fast, extremely well-documented core numerical library.
- FFI (C) or Rice (C++ with Boost)
- Allow for custom C functions with FFI or Rice.
- Good at casting
- Consider broadcasting
- Thoroughly documented, on par with Yaml Cookbook
- Convenience wrappers for GSL, perhaps in a separate module.
- Eventual inclusion in Ruby core.
Visualization and Plotting Library
Goals: High-quality, interactive, dynamic visualizations of the sort seen in Processing.
- Based in OpenGL for interactivity and native 3D on many platforms.
- FFI-OpenGL or Rice with GLT
- WebGL support for HTML5 Canvas
- Make matplotlib drool, but be inspired by it.