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Side by side comparison of Microsoft Azure’s High Performance Computing (HPC) Instances

At the time of writing, Microsoft Azure has 3 High Performance Computing instances available and I often find myself looking up their specifications and benchmark results when discussing their various methods with colleagues and clients.  All the information is out there but seems to be spread across several documents. To save me the trouble in future,...

Programmatically listing all available regions in Microsoft Azure

When using the Azure Command Line Interface (CLI), it is often necessary to explicitly state which region you want to perform an operation in.  For example, when creating a resource group az group create --name <rg_name> --location <location> Where you replace <locaton>with the region where you want to create the resource group....

Academic Benefits of Using git and GitHub

Feel free to discuss and contribute to this article over at the corresponding GitHub repo. Many people suggest that you should use version control as part of your scientifc workflow. This is usually quickly followed up by recommendations to learn git and to put your project on GitHub. Learning and doing all of this for the first time takes a lot of...

Hypot – A story of a ‘simple’ function

My stepchildren are pretty good at mathematics for their age and have recently learned about Pythagora’s theorem $c=\sqrt{a^2+b^2}$ The fact that they have learned about this so early in their mathematical lives is testament to its importance. Pythagoras is everywhere in computational science and it may well be the case that you’ll need to compute...

When numpy.empty is not faster than numpy.zeros

In many introductions to numpy, one gets taught about np.ones, np.zeros and np.empty. The accepted wisdom is that np.empty will be faster than np.ones because it doesn’t have to waste time doing all that initialisation. A quick test in a Jupyter notebook shows that this seems to be true! import numpy as np N = 200 zero_time = %timeit -o some_zeros...

Second Order Cone Programming (SOCP) using the NAG Library for Python

What is Second Order Cone Programming (SOCP)?   Second Order Cone Programming (SOCP) problems are a type of optimisation problem that have applications in many areas of science, finance and engineering. A summary of the type of problems that can make use of SOCP, including things as diverse as designing antenna arrays, finite impulse response (FIR)...

Fixing missing ‘Anaconda Prompt’ start menu shortcut on windows 10

I am a huge user of Anaconda Python and the way I usually get access to the Anaconda Prompt is to start typing ‘Anaconda’ in the Windows search box and click on the link as soon as it pops up. Easy and convenient. Earlier today, however, the Windows 10 menu shortcuts for the Anaconda command line vanished from my machine! I’m not sure exactly what...

High Performance Computing (HPC) – On premise or cloud? The cost question.

HPC! To cloud or not to cloud…. Over the course of my career I have been involved with the provision of High Performance Computing (HPC) at almost every level. As a researcher and research software engineer I have been, and continue to be, a user of many large scale systems.  As a member of research computing support, I was involved in service development...

Adding extra Latex packages to Pandoc

My preferred workflow for writing technical documents these days is to write in Markdown (Or Jupyter Notebooks) and then use Pandoc to convert to PDF, Microsoft Word or whatever format is required by the end client. While working with a markdown file recently, the pandoc conversion to PDF failed with the following error message ! Undefined control...

Fortran Compiler for Sinclair ZX Spectrum rediscovered after 40 years

It started with a tweet While basking in some geek nostalgia on twitter, I discovered that my first ever microcomputer, the Sinclair Spectrum, once had a Fortran compiler However, that compiler was seemingly lost to history and was declared Missing in Action on World of Spectrum. A few of us on Twitter enjoyed reading the 1987 review of this...

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