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Interview: Computational astrophysics with the yt project

Jan 03, 2012, 12:02 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by edwood)

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"Britton: The simulation code that I use is one of many in existence. Despite the significant overlap in the areas of research associated with these codes, each tend to have their own separate communities of users and developers, their own files formats, and their own analysis tools. This has traditionally made any sort of cross-code research very difficult, or at least inconvenient.

"The primary goal of the yt Project is to provide a common language for computational astrophysicists everywhere, regardless of the simulation code they use. The main component of the yt Project is the yt analysis toolkit, which is an open-source package for analyzing and visualizing astrophysical simulation data. In this package, we have attempted to incorporate all analysis functionality common to most environments. This includes slices, projections, volume renders, contour finding, multi-dimensional profiling, halo finding, and many other things. While working on a research project, we often need to create new pieces of analysis. When this happens, we do our best to add this to yt's capabilities so that the next person who wants to do something similar won't have to reinvent the wheel. Our goal is to make every yt user a yt developer.

"While the feature list of yt is certainly a strength, a potentially greater strength is its ability to work with many different simulation codes. Currently, yt supports eight different codes. With yt, simulation data from any code looks virtually the same once it is in memory. As such, the main challenge for adding support to another code is reading the file format properly. When someone comes to us from an unsupported code, we do our best to work with them to build the necessary components and get them involved in the community. The odds are that they will bring with them functionality and ideas from their own corner that then will help make yt better for everyone, and that is the whole point."

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