PyData London 2014


View of London from Level 39, the venue for PyData in Canary Wharf

Last weekend the first European PyData event took place in London’s Canary Wharf.

Having been really impressed with the last conference in New York in November, I was really looking forward to having PyData closer to home.

With lots of great talks on subjects from Machine Learning to Pharmaceutical drug discovery, the weekend did not disappoint. Ian Ozsvald has written up a good description of all the different activities.

PyDataBelow I have included the materials from my talk on Massively Parallel Processing with Procedural Python. Due to an unfortunate laptop crash I didn’t get to go through all the slides, but some of the missing material was covered by my colleague Srivatsan Ramanujan and I in New York.

The IPython notebook I used to demonstrate some simple examples is available on Github and can also be viewed using nbviewer. The slides embedded here are also on Slideshare:


In addition I thought it would be useful to try to collect as many of the tweets from over the weekend as possible. These are available on Storify. There’s no guarantee I’ve found everything but hopefully there will be some value in having links to some of the slides and other materials people mentioned during their talks.

Update 26/04/2014:

The videos from the PyData London conference are now available including my talk below. With the success of the event a new monthly PyData London meetup has also now been started.


Durham UK Cosmo meeting

Durham University, and in particular the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology hosted the annual two-day UK Cosmology meeting this year. There were lots of very interesting talks, and I hope to give a flavour of some of the issues that were mentioned over the course of the meeting.

Durham Cathedral, taken by Ian Huston

The list of participants and the programme outline are on the Durham website, however I do not expect the slides of the talks to be uploaded except perhaps by individual speakers.

Due to it being organised at the last minute and the fact that it took place quite close to the start of the academic term the meeting wasn’t as well attended as others have been, but this allowed for more discussions and for everyone to get to know each other quite well. It also meant that the speakers were allocated 30 minutes each including time for questions, a time scale which is a lot more manageable than the ten minute slots that have previously been used.

The talks and discussions were of a very high quality over the two days, helped by the generous lunch and tea breaks which encouraged the research conversations to continue. The setting was also superb, the Ogden Centre being a very impressive place with a friendly open atmosphere. On Monday evening we were shown what must be one of Durham’s most spectacular outreach efforts, the 3-D film Cosmic Origins, which shows a journey from our solar system, through the Hubble Deep Field, out to the Last Scattering Surface. A 2-D version of the film is embedded below, but for the full experience the 3-D version, glasses and all, needs to be seen. The film was shown at the 2010 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

The two days of talks were really enjoyable and the unrushed pace of the meeting should be replicated next time if possible. With a one day meeting time constraints are very severe, but I think longer time slots and extra discussion time could still be beneficial. I tweeted a few times during the meeting but penetration of Twitter in to the cosmological field has not reached the levels seen in the Science Online London conference last week.

I would like to thank everyone who helped to organise the meeting and make us feel welcome in Durham. I hope to put together a few overview posts about the work that was presented so they should appear here sometime in the future.


Customising Beamer Presentations

Someone asked me how I achieved the effects on my slides in the talk I gave at QMUL, so having written them an email outlining all the customisations I usually make, I thought the subject might be worthy of a blogpost.

I use the Beamer package for LaTeX which is a great way to include mathematics in your slides, and is pretty straightforward to use if you are proficient with LaTeX.
The default settings in Beamer are quite pretty but after a few days of a physics conference they can become quite repetitive. I like to make my slides at least somewhat different to all the others out there, and try to use my customisations to keep the attention of my audience.

One main change I think is useful with beamer is to make the equations use a serif font like a normal paper would, and not the sans-serif font used by default. This is achieved by having the following command
before \begin{document}:


To get rid of the navigation symbols at the bottom right of each slide I use

\setbeamertemplate{navigation symbols}{}

and the template I use is given by


I don’t like all the clutter that’s normally at the top of each slide
(contents, title etc) so I use the “plain” option for each frame:


To do the black background with white text is slightly tricky but the
template below should work. Just be aware that the curly brackets
outside all the other commands are required to limit the change to
just one frame.

\setbeamercolor{normal text}{bg=black}




These are pretty simple changes but used judiciously they can have a striking effect. I think the most useful is the change of maths text to be serif, in line with the standard used in academic print. The sans-serif maths font just looks a little odd in comparison.


Relativity and Cosmology Seminar

Yesterday I gave my first seminar as a postdoc in the regular Relativity and Cosmology series at QMUL.
People seemed to engage with the material and there were quite a few questions at the end.

The slides for the talk are available as a pdf or through the embedded widget below. My style for talks is heavily skewed towards minimalist slides with lots of verbal explanation so without having me beside you to guide you through them they might be hard to understand. Perhaps one day I will get around to recording the audio for a talk as well.



Next UK Cosmo meeting

The next UK Cosmology meeting is taking place in Lancaster on the 24th February. These meetings provide an opportunity to find out what other cosmologists around the country are doing and to establish and cement working relationships.

The deadline for registering your interest in attending or giving a talk is tomorrow the 16th. Funding is being provided for travel costs and PhD students and postdocs are especially encouraged to apply to speak. More information about the programme and location is on the meeting webpage.