Open Thoughts

MLOSS progress updates for May 2008

Posted by Cheng Soon Ong on May 8, 2008

Here is a bit of self advertising, and a development in the bioinformatics community...

We have, as of today, 68 software projects and 205 registered users on the site ( What surprised me is the breadth of languages that machine learners seem to write their software. A look at the list of languages revealed that most of the popular languages are represented in our list of mloss projects.

  • C, C++
  • clisp, java
  • matlab, octave
  • python, perl
  • R, ruby

Comparing with the most popular programming languages on TIOBE notable languages that are missing include

  • visual basic, php
  • c#, d, delphi
  • javascript

One can argue that many of these languages are more suited to web development than machine learning code, but c# and delphi are general purpose languages. Maybe the fact that they are strongly linked with Microsoft has scared away open source developers from those languages.

In a discussion post, I pointed out that the International Society for Computational Biology was finalizing a policy statement about software sharing, and they recommend open source software. The relevant section says

III. Implementation when software sharing is warranted

  1. In most cases, it is preferable to make source code available. We recommend executable versions of the software should be made available for research use to individuals at academic institutions.
  2. Open source licenses are one effective way to share software.
    For more information, see the definition of open source, and example licenses, at

For the bioinformatics community, this means that researchers can more easily justify to the powers that be that open source is the right way to go. Will the machine learning community follow?


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