In episode 21, we interviewed Juan Pablo Carbajal, an Argentinian physicist currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Urban Water Management at the ETH domain in Switzerland. We had a great discussion about GNU Octave and how it can help scientists. We compared its core functions and its expandability through packages to its commercial equivalent Matlab and its toolboxes. An interesting feature of GNU Octave that we explored with Juan is the possibility to migrate code from Matlab directly to GNU Octave and to a certain point maintain code compatible with both. Juan shared with us that since the introduction of an integrated GUI in 2015, he noticed a continuous growth in popularity for the project. We then discussed about a few of the reasons why companies are interested by GNU Octave and why universities should teach using free/libre software. Before asking our usual quick questions, Juan talked with us about the reasons why FLOSS is important for science and the importance of exposing non-FLOSS users to the benefits of FLOSS.
00:00:00 Message to our listeners
00:00:45 Introducing Juan Pablo Carbajal
00:01:32 30 seconds elevator pitch for GNU Octave
00:02:20 How does the Octave programming language compares to other common programming languages
00:03:23 Compatibility between GNU Octave and Matlab
00:06:29 Matlab's toolboxes compared to GNU Octave packages
00:07:31 Simulink models with GNU Octave
00:09:06 Parallel processing with GNU Octave
00:10:40 The issue with CUDA in GNU Octave
00:11:48 How GNU Octaves differs rom other open source Matlab equivalents
00:13:34 Syntax compatibility to ease transition and reusing code from Matlab
00:15:11 Resources to start using GNU Octave
00:16:40 GNU Octave's graphical user interface and the old QT Octave GUI
00:20:14 GNU Octave's graphical user interface compared to Matlab
00:22:11 Why GNU Octave and not simply Octave
00:23:06 GNU Octave licence
00:24:01 How often he uses GNU Octave
00:24:18 Juan's numerous contributions to the project
00:25:27 GNU octave for companies
00:27:45 Arguments for teaching with GNU Octave instead of Matlab
00:29:32 How many are involved in the project?
00:30:37 Communication channels within the project
00:31:34 Is the project actively looking for developers?
00:32:11 Skills required to contribute
00:33:14 The two-level language dilemma
00:34:59 Juan's vision about FLOSS and its importance for science
00:37:09 Possible negative impacts of FLOSS and converting non-FLOSS users
00:40:17 The most notable scientific discovery in recent years
00:41:46 Juan's favourite text processing tools
00:42:38 Things we forgot to ask about
00:43:57 Anything else to share?
00:44:25 How to contact Juan