The open science movement seems to be picking up steam these days thanks, in no small part, to Michael Nielsen’s “Reinventing Discovery“. Complementary to this has been an increasing clamor for scientists to open up and release the computer codes involved in scientific papers. This is an issue I feel strongly about: it is rather hard for a scientific result to be called “reproducible” if the code the result is based on is withheld.

Strongly motivated by these issues I’ve recently been investigating ways to share and open the source code for the numerical quantum many body projects I’m involved in here in the quantum information group, Hannover. The social coding website GitHub provides a great platform to do exactly this. Thus I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce a new open science open source project evoMPS, led by Ash Milsted, and hosted on GitHub.

EvoMPS is an actively developed implementation of some of the new methods to simulate quantum many body systems using the time-dependent variational principle reported on in these papers.

EvoMPS is also partly the result of our frustration with the expensive licenses required by commercial scientific software (e.g., Matlab and Mathematica) and the irritations of maintaining connections to license servers etc. We wanted that anyone could download the code and experiment with it without having to pay exorbitant fees for commercial software. Thus, to implement the project we looked around for open source alternatives to Matlab and eventually settled on Python + Scipy/Numpy, (although I must say, the new Julia language looks extremely interesting). Python seems really well suited to numerical quantum many body calculations as it allows one to swap in highly optimised LAPACK/BLAS libraries and also one can insert optimised c code using cython.

I am very excited by the results, so please do clone/fork evoMPS today and take a look.

If you’d like to contribute please don’t hesitate to contact us.