Greg Wilson

http://twitter.com/gvwilson

Toronto, Ontario

Helping scientists build better software since 1997

Areas of Expertise:

  • education
  • computational science
  • software engineering
  • speaking
  • training
Greg Wilson has worked on high-performance scientific computing, data visualization, and computer security, and is currently project lead at Software Carpentry. Greg has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Edinburgh, and has written and edited several technical and children's books, including the Jolt Award winner Beautiful Code (O'Reilly, 2007).

Making Software Making Software
by Andy Oram , Greg Wilson
October 2010
Print: $44.99
Ebook: $35.99

Practical Programming Practical Programming (Pragmatic Bookshelf)
by Jennifer Campbell , Paul Gries , Jason Montojo , Greg Wilson
May 2009
Print: $32.95

Beautiful Code Beautiful Code
by Andy Oram , Greg Wilson
June 2007
Print: $44.99
Ebook: $35.99

Data Crunching Data Crunching (Pragmatic Bookshelf)
by Greg Wilson
April 2005
Print: $29.95

Greg blogs at:


Minutes from 2012-12-19 All-Hands Meeting

December 19 2012

Our second all-hands meeting was held on Wednesday, December 19, from 12:00-13:10 Eastern time. Actions Dhavide Aruliah Co-author bullet-points and cheat sheet for Unix shell Co-author bullet-points and cheat sheet for basic Python Amy Brown Proof-read Code of Conduct Add Code of Conduct to boot camp "how-to" Create graphic for… read more

You've Shown Me the C, Now Where's the Python?

December 16 2012

The W3C's Provenance Working Group recently published a new draft of their proposed standard for tracking provenance on the web. It's pretty dense stuff: even the primer, which uses the word [...] read more

Lorena Barba's Reproducibility PI Manifesto

December 15 2012

Prof. Lorena Barba, of Boston University, presented an excellent manifesto at the ICERM meeting on reproducible research: I will teach my graduate students about reproducibility. All our [...] read more

Three Non-trivial Use Cases for Git

December 15 2012

Today's guest post comes from Nicolas Limare. Here are three problems I encountered while introducing fellow grad students and post-docs to Git. These are situations where Git seems to not provide [...] read more

Would You Like Your Programming Language to Have a Million Users?

December 14 2012

Would you like your new programming language to have a million users in a couple of years? You would? Cool—here’s how to do it. Instead of asking yourself, “How will people write loops?” or, “Is this statically or dynamically typed?”, ask yourself, “What can I do in the language to… read more

Two R Workshops at UBC in 2013

December 13 2012

We're pleased to announce two workshops in 2013 at the University of British Columbia: Beginners R Date: January 11, 1 Day Venue: MSL 101 Format: 4×1.5 hour blocks R Basics, workspace, [...] read more

Two R Workshops at UBC in 2013

December 13 2012

We’re pleased to announce two workshops in 2013 at the University of British Columbia: Beginners R Date: January 11, 1 Day Venue: MSL 101 Format: 4×1.5 hour blocks R Basics, workspace, working directory, projects in RStudio Importing, exporting and cleaning data. Data manipulation, aggregation and indexing. Working with a statistical… read more

Feedback from Edinburgh

December 13 2012

From Mike: This week saw the first boot camp to be held at The University of Edinburgh. The boot camp was organised by the The Software Sustainability Institute and EPCC as part of the PRACE Advanced Training Centre. We had 36 researchers from geosciences, astronomy, biology, statistics, chemistry and mathematics and… read more

Feedback from Edinburgh

December 12 2012

This week saw the first boot camp to be held at The University of Edinburgh. The boot camp was organised by the The Software Sustainability Institute and EPCC as part of the PRACE Advanced Training [...] read more

IPython Funding: Hurray!

December 12 2012

Via email: We are proud to announce that we’ve received funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation that will support IPython development for the next two years. Thanks to this $1.15M grant, Brian Granger and Fernando Perez will be working roughly 3/4 of their time on IPython, Min Ragan-Kelley will… read more

Some of the Things We've Learned About Teaching Git

December 11 2012

We've tried teaching Git six or seven times now; here's what some of the instructors have learned. Instructor #1 I spent too much time explaining the "stage." It's an important concept [...] read more

Some of the Things We’ve Learned About Teaching Git

December 11 2012

We’ve tried teaching Git six or seven times now; here’s what some of the instructors have learned. Instructor #1 I spent too much time explaining the “stage.” It’s an important concept that sets git apart from other VCSes, but for beginning students it’s probably too advanced. I wish I had… read more

What To Work On In 2013

December 09 2012

Votes are in and tallied: here's what you'd like us to work on in [...] read more

What To Work On In 2013

December 09 2012

Votes are in and tallied: here’s what you’d like us to work on in 2013. read more

Creating a Task List

December 08 2012

We’re going to start using GitHub to manage our content, and as a corollary of that, we’re going to use its issue tracker to manage the things we’re working on. I’ve already put a handful of medium-to-large items in it; suggestions would be welcome, particularly if accompanied by, “…and I’ll… read more

ElmCity Reaches Toronto

December 08 2012

For the past few years, Jon Udell has been working on a project called ElmCity. Its ostensible aim is to do for calendars what the RSS ecosystem has done for news: allow everyone to be an author, but also make it easy to aggregate, filter, and share information from a… read more

Two Solitudes Illustrated

December 06 2012

Jorge Aranda and I submitted a short opinion piece to Communications of the ACM in February 2012 that discussed some of the reasons people in industry and academia don’t talk to each other as much as they should. Ten months later, it has ironically turned into an illustration of one… read more

Sustainability

December 05 2012

Software Carpentry wouldn't exist without support from the Sloan Foundation, Mozilla, and a lot of other sponsors, but that support won't last forever. Over the next two years, we need to find a [...] read more

Six Years Later

December 05 2012

I'm giving a short talk next week at an ICERM workshop on Reproducibility in Computational and Experimental Mathematics, which has prompted me to look back at a talk I gave six years ago at [...] read more

Why Be an Instructor

December 05 2012

Our instructors are all volunteers—boot camp hosts cover their travel and accommodation costs, but they're not paid for their time. So why do they do it? Make the world a better place. As [...] read more

Who Can Run a Software Carpentry Workshop?

December 05 2012

A couple of people have mailed us in the past week to ask if they can use our materials and run a workshop on their own. The short answer is "yes"; the longer answer is "yes please" :-) All of our [...] read more

Sustainability

December 05 2012

Software Carpentry wouldn’t exist without support from the Sloan Foundation, Mozilla, and a lot of other sponsors, but that support won’t last forever. Over the next two years, we need to find a way to make this project self-sustaining; to achieve that, we’re currently doing the following: Use a “host… read more

Our First Hackathon

December 05 2012

We’d like to invite our friends to a week-long hackathon at Mozilla’s office in Toronto in June to: create new teaching material give each other feedback on teaching (we’ll run a workshop during the week) build new tools (like extensions for the IPython Notebook) get to know each other We… read more

Who Can Run a Software Carpentry Workshop?

December 05 2012

A couple of people have mailed us in the past week to ask if they can use our materials and run a workshop on their own. The short answer is “yes”; the longer answer is “yes please” :-) All of our lessons are covered by the Creative Commons – Attribution… read more

Moving Up and Moving Down

December 05 2012

Our existing workshops/material are aimed at people who know enough to write a hundred-line script, but don’t yet use version control or do any systematic testing. Many scientists either haven’t gotten this far, or are well past it, and we’d like to start helping them. We think that means we… read more

Why Be an Instructor?

December 05 2012

Our instructors are all volunteers—boot camp hosts cover their travel and accommodation costs, but they’re not paid for their time. So why do they do it? Make the world a better place. As I say in a lot of my talks, the two things we need to get through the… read more

Six Years Later

December 05 2012

I’m giving a short talk next week at an ICERM workshop on Reproducibility in Computational and Experimental Mathematics, which has prompted me to look back at a talk I gave six years ago at SciPy’06. The slides from that talk are included below; I’m now trying to decide whether I’m… read more

See You at PyCon 2013

December 04 2012

The list of talks for PyCon 2013 has been posted, and we're very pleased to see three by members of our team: Titus Brown: Awesome Big Data Algorithms Matt Davis: Teaching with the IPython [...] read more

See You at PyCon 2013

December 04 2012

The list of talks for PyCon 2013 has been posted, and we’re very pleased to see three by members of our team: Titus Brown: Awesome Big Data Algorithms Matt Davis: Teaching with the IPython Notebook Jessica McKellar: How the Internet Works There will also be the first-ever Python Education Summit… read more

European Grid Infrastructure is Organizing a Software Carpentry Workshop

December 01 2012

The European Grid Infrastructure project is putting together a Software Carpentry workshop for Manchester in April—early details are in their post, and we’ll post more details ourselves as they evolve. read more

Good News About Software Carpentry (and More)

November 30 2012

We’re pleased to announce that Mozilla and Software Carpentry will be continuing and expanding our work to empower scientists with computer science and webmaking skills. We have been working with the Sloan Foundation to teach scientists the concepts, tools and techniques they need to use computers and the web to… read more

Alpha-Testing Ideas for the IPython Notebook

November 27 2012

Before I post any of these ideas on the IPython Notebook wiki, I’d be grateful for feedback from our learners and instructors. Most of these (maybe all of them?) would be done as extensions, rather than as patches to IPyNB itself. Please let us know what you think; I’ll revise… read more

Titus Brown on the Scripps Institute Boot Camp

November 25 2012

Hot on the heels of Cait Pickens’ posts about our workshop at the Scripps Institute comes this post-mortem from Titus Brown. Again, there’s lots of good analysis, and many useful recommendations—particularly concerning installation and setup headaches (which continue to be our second-biggest problem). read more

Cait Pickens on the Scripps Institute Boot Camp

November 24 2012

Cait Pickens (a grad student from Michigan State University) has written a great series of posts about the boot camp she helped teach at the Scripps Institute a couple of weeks ago: Preparation Day 1, Part 1 Day 1, Part 2 Day 2, Part 1 Day 2, Part 2 Day… read more

Who Wants To Build a Faded Example Tool for the IPython Notebook?

November 19 2012

While I’m asking people to write code for me, here’s a small addition to the IPython Notebook that someone should be able to knock off in an hour. The starting points are cognitive load theory and the idea of faded examples: long story short, one good way to teach is… read more

The Tool (I Think) We Need To Do Peer Instruction Online

November 19 2012

Clay Shirky’s recent essays “Napster, Udacity, and the Academy” has attracted a fair bit of attention. I’ve written about some of the things it doesn’t discuss on my personal blog, but here, I’d like to use it as a jumping off point for a description of a tool I’d like… read more

If Udacity is Napster, Who Will Be iTunes?

November 19 2012

My Who Decides? post has produced some rather heated email. In answer, no, I am not defending the existing university system: I quit my faculty position at the University of Toronto in part because it doesn’t serve students well, and doesn’t have a future beyond elite networking-building [1]. But the… read more

Updating Our Reading List

November 17 2012

We’re planning to launch an update to this web site in the next few days, and as part of that, we’re revisiting some of our content. For example, we’d like to shorten and update our recommended reading list—the current short list is below, and we’d welcome suggestions for additions. However,… read more

Who Wants To Write a Little Code?

November 16 2012

We have always steered away from building libraries to use in teaching—we want to show people the “real” stuff, and we can’t afford to maintain things. The IPython Notebook has us rethinking that: now that we can display images inline, it would be wonderful if we could leverage Mark Guzdial… read more

UCOSP Has Grown

November 07 2012

One of the last things I did before leaving the University of Toronto was start UCOSP, which gives students in CS a chance to work in cross-country teams on open source capstone projects. I learned recently from Karen Reid and Michelle Craig that it has grown considerably: 20 different Canadian… read more

Who Decides?

November 05 2012

Sal Khan and Michael Noer recently recorded an 11-minute webisode on the history of education from 1680 to 2050. It angered Audrey Watters, and I think my take on why says a lot about where I stand on education, online or otherwise. Michael Noer works for Forbes, whose byline is,… read more

I’d Like an Argument, Please

November 02 2012

Twice this week I’ve heard the claim that ignorance is strength—that not knowing what’s been done before in an area is actually an advantage, because then you’re not hamstrung by preconceptions. When challenged, the people making the claim offer hypotheticals: “Would Louis Armstrong have invented jazz if he’d studied classical… read more

Princess Darth Vader

October 31 2012

(The yellow raincoast isn’t really part of the costume—blame Hurricane Sandy for that.) read more

An Apology to the OSC (was: Calling All [Male] Junior Aerospace Engineers)

October 24 2012

We received an email from the Ontario Science Centre this morning about their upcoming sleepover camps.  It said: SPACE ODYSSEY: Families, Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and all other groups Calling all junior aerospace engineers and mission specialists! Come to a fun-filled night of space exploration. Blast off for an out-of-this-world overnight experience!… read more

Offline Rendering of WordPress Blog Posts?

October 16 2012

I’d like to take a few tens of thousand WordPress blog posts and turn each into a standalone HTML page. I have the text that WordPress stores in its database, but there’s a problem: WordPress doesn’t (usually) store <p>…</p> paragraph tags. Instead, it (usually) interprets a blank line as a… read more

Two Views

October 10 2012

How I think of myself when I’m giving a talk: How the audience sees me: read more