Monday, 4 May 2009

Who are you?

Tell me, I really want to know, who are you? As I am sure many of you know from my last blog post my name is Freddie Witherden and I am a first year physics student at Imperial College London. While this is my first time participating in GSoC I have been active in the open source community for a couple of years now. In this post I'll to outline things of interest I've done heretofore — hopefully keeping the self aggrandisation to a minimum.

My first real experience as a contributor to an open source project came in 2007 when I started submitting patches to the open source real-time strategy game Warzone 2100. Later that year I rewrote the games network code and subsequently became a full fledged developer. Since then I have gone on to maintain the Mac version of the project and am slowly but surely modernising the user interface.

In around December of last year I wrote a web utility to perform error propagation calculations. Given a function, f of n linearly independent variables it would compute the error in f as a function of the errors in each of the input variables. The utility — which can be found here — was written in C++ using GiNaC for symbolic computation and jsMath for LaTeX math output. It was while designing this tool that I discovered the need for an easy way to render LaTeX math expressions without needing a full blown LaTeX install.

Around this time — while looking for alternatives to GiNaC that were more suited for web applications — I discovered Sympy. Since then I have contributed several patches to the LaTeX printing code in order to improve the output quality. But, the problem about how to render the resulting LaTeX code was still an open problem.

After Christmas my first year computing lab started which — among other things — consisted of a project. The project I chose was the double pendulum, a very simple example of a chaotic system. Already knowing C++ I went on ahead to write a graphical simulator using the Qt libraries. Released under the GPL it can be found here.

Although this post has not done a particularly good job at describing who I am I hope that some of the projects which I have had the privilege of being a part of are of some interest.

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