Computers and science

January 26, 2010

I found this interesting: Keeping computers from ending science’s reproducibility.

In recent years, scientists may have inadvertently given up on a key component of the scientific method: reproducibility. That’s an argument that’s being advanced by a number of people who have been tracking our increasing reliance on computational methods in all areas of science. An apparently simple computerized analysis may now involve a complex pipeline of software tools; reproducing it will require version control for both software and data, along with careful documentation of the precise parameters used at every step. Some researchers are now getting concerned that their peers simply aren’t up to the challenge, and we need to start providing the legal and software tools to make it easier for them.

What he never mentions in the article: almost all of the so-called “climate science” is computational analysis, and one of the largest documents in the “Climategate” files was a log of one scientist’s two-year failing effort to reproduce some previously published results.

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