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A: An introduction[edit]

  • Please describe yourself in three sentences, one of them regarding your current studies.
    • Which languages do you speak?
    • What's your overall background?

My name is Pooja Rao and I'm originally from Gurgaon, India but currently living in NY, USA. I am a PhD student in computational fluid dynamics at Stony Brook University, NY, specializing in fluid mixing in high Reynolds number regime. I speak Hindi and English fluently, and love to read and travel.

  • Why do you want to participate in the Google Summer of Code? What do you hope to gain by doing so?

I love math and technology. It seems like a fun way to spend summer, learning cool math/tech oriented things (that could turn into something useful) and also, to get your feet wet in open-source world. It's also a very good way to observe and learn about how professionals coders code and communicate.

  • Why are you choosing Octave?

I have used Octave a little before and found it a useful math tool. The project on IBVP parabolic-elliptic is very interesting and offers me the perfect opportunity to combine my numerical analysis, fluid dynamics(PDE solving) and coding skills. Plus, I could see myself using this tool for my own work.

C: Contact[edit]

  • Please state the (unique and identical where possible) nick you use on IRC and any other communication channel related to Octave.

My nick is prao.

  • Which time zone do you live in? Will that change over GSoC duration?

I live in UTC-4 and it's not going change for GSoC duration.

  • Please state the timeframe (in UTC+0) when you feel most comfortable working during GSoC.

I am on a flexible schedule but on most days, I code between 15:00 hrs to 05:00 hrs(UTC).

E: Coding experience[edit]

  • Please describe your experience with C++, Octave or Matlab m-scripts, OpenGL and Qt.

For my research I use C++, C to solve the Navier-Stokes numerically using a huge code that's been in development for a long time. The code development that I do is mostly in these languages.

I have used a lot of Matlab for writing scripts for post-processing data and to generate plots for research papers. In addition, I have also used Matlab for numerical analysis classes to generate movies and to do homework assignments on PDEs.

I don't have any experience with OpenGL and Qt.

  • Please describe your experience with other programming languages.

I have used Python to test some complex code ideas before implementing them in C, C++. I've also used a few Python libraries and IPython for my assignments. I can make some simple GUIs using Tkinter.

  • Please describe your experience with being in a development team.

For my Ph.D. research, I use and help develop a multi-physics, publically available code FronTier [1], that's been in development for a couple of decades. I work in a big team that shares code, so in a way I'm familiar with the development environment, although I am totally new to open source development. [1]

  • Please describe the biggest project you have written code for and what you learned by doing so. Also describe your role in that project over time.

I started using FronTier as an end user, taking data output and writing scripts to answer specific research questions. As my research progressed, I needed to add more features to the code and I transitioned to being a developer. My biggest project was to adopt some parts from the old version of FronTier(in C) to a new C++ version. It involved reading a bunch of papers on dynamic subgrid scale modeling (LES turbulence modeling), understanding a big piece of code written by someone else and changing (also adding new features) it to C++, which I didn't know much of until I started working on this project. The complexity of the code and poor documentation, made it quite challenging to add new pieces of code that worked in sync with the rest of it. It taught me the value of having a clear plan of action before implementation and the importance of testing vigorously. I found it useful at times to discuss certain aspects with more experienced users and refining my thought process.

  • Please state the commits and patches you already contributed to Octave.

I did a couple of small patches to get used to Mercurial and the source code. [1] [2] [3]

F: Feeling fine[edit]

  • Please describe (in short) your experience with the following tools:
    • IRC and mailing lists

I am comfortable using IRC and mailing lists. I found them useful during the installation process and getting answers for project related questions.

    • Mercurial or other source code management systems

I have a basic knowledge of Mercurial at this point.

    • Mediawiki or other wiki software

Yes, for the journal club at my University.

    • make, gcc, gdb or other development tools

Yes, I use them on a regular basis.

  • What will make you actively stay in our community after this GSoC is over?

Octave community does a lot of numerical stuff that I'm interested in. I enjoy code development that centers around math and Octave offers me that. I like the openness and collaboration culture of open-source world. I will definitely continue to contribute irrespective of whether I get selected or not.

O: Only out of interest[edit]

  • Did you ever hear about Octave before?

Yes, I had heard about Octave before via my professor. I am still exploring it.

  • What was the first question concerning Octave you could not find an answer to rather quickly?

So far I have been able to find solution to my problems either by digging through Octave documentation or by google search.

P: Prerequisites[edit]

  • Please state the operating system you work with.

I have 24x7 access to Ubuntu 12.04 as my personal computer and CentOS 6.3 as a school server, available remotely.

  • Please estimate an average time per day you will be able to (if separated) access
    • an internet connection


    • a computer


    • a computer with your progressing work on


  • Please describe the degree up to which you can install new software on computers you have access to.

I have the root permissions and enough RAM to install the needed software.

S: Self-assessment[edit]

  • Please describe how useful criticism looks from your point of view as committing student.

Constructive criticism is extremely important for improvement both as a coder and as a person. There is always value in getting an objective view of your work, general or specific, and working on your weak points. Having said that, I don't find vague feedback very helpful.

  • How autonomous are you when developing?

I'd say fairly autonomous. I usually refer to online resources to resolve problems. But I'm also good at recognizing roadblocks that might need a little nudge in the right direction, especially if there is time constraint.

    • Do you like to discuss changes intensively and not start coding until you know what you want to do?

For me discussions are more productive when I've already spent some time thinking about the problem. I like to think long and hard before I start implementation so I know what I am doing. This helps me avoid confusion and writing messy code.

    • Do you like to code a proof of concept to 'see how it turns out', modifying that and taking the risk of having work thrown away if it doesn't match what the project or original proponent had in mind?

I usually don't follow this technique for large projects as there is too much at stake in terms of effort and time. I like to have a clear vision before I start coding. But for small problems with enough time, I think it's okay to to get the feel of things via coding.

Y: Your task[edit]

  • Did you select a task from our list of proposals and ideas?
    • If yes, what task did you choose? Please describe what part of it you especially want to focus.

Yes, I chose to implement the IBVP for parabolic-elliptic PDEs in 1D and improve ode15s. Besides being compatible with Matlab's pdepe function, I want to make sure it has comparable performance too.

  • Please provide a rough estimated timeline for your work on the task.

Community bonding period
I'll know the source code and community better by getting more involved in help-forums, IRC, etc. I will discuss the frequency and means of communication with my mentor. I have set up a blog to put my weekly/fortnightly progress. This project is more math-intensive than coding-intensive, so I'll use this time to solidify the theory behind implementation well.
Coding period (tentative schedule)
Overall goal: Implement Matlab compatible pdepe function and improve ode15s
Midterm goal: Implement pdepe for non-singular and singular cases
Second Half goal: Performance analysis of pdepe and improvement of ode15s
Wish-list: Improve ode15i, work on performance of pdepe, wrapper for IDA
Week 1 Initialization & error catching of input parameters; Start implementing Galerkin for regular case:taking initialization, discretizing and setting up ODE system
Week 2 Finish regular Galerkin code
Week 3 Use daspk to solve ODE system; Test the regular case
Week 4 Implement Petrov-Galerkin
Week 5 Test non-singular cases & coexistence of above two; buffer time for debugging
Week 6/7 Timing studies, performance analysis, correctional measures
Week 8/9 Work on improving ode15s implementation and making it Matlab compatible
Week 10 Documentation, clean up/finish
Week 11 Buffer time/work on improving pdepe performance/work on ode15i if time allows
Week 12 Wish-list
Week 13 Pencil-in time

I don't have any exams or other commitments during GSoC period and the problem seems a good match for my skill set, so I expect to have no issues completing it in the time frame allotted.