Learning to Model

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Computational modeling requires a diverse set of skills.  While most aspiring modelers are expected to have solid math skills, many advisors assume that other skills, like writing programs or building complex FORTRAN projects, will be learned on the fly.  These skills form what I call "applied scientific computing" and they can be some of the biggest challenges that rookies and even some veterans face.  For example, we're trying to get an implementation of ROMS running on our lab system.  Like many large models, ROMS comes as a series of FORTRAN files.  These files must be compiled and then linked against a series of external libraries (for example, NetCDF).  Magnanimous developers will often provide a "make" file or build script to make the compiling and linking simpler.  However, my experience is it always takes some digging to get this process to work.  Even if you've had a course on FORTRAN programming, you very likely have no idea what it means to link to an external library.  At one point, it was my mission in life (well, not quite) to fight against the "I had to teach myself this stuff, you should too" mentality.  I developed a series of short courses on doing science with Matlab, FORTRAN programming, and even a course on libraries.  I've created a "Scientific Computing" section of seascapemodeling, and put a couple of the courses on there.  I'll try to get the complete set up shortly.  If this is a topic that's interesting to you, please leave a comment or send me an email.

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Andy - I completely agree with your sentiments. I always advise newbies in the scientific field to take some type of programming class. It doesn't really matter what language you learn, but it is more the process of knowing how to write code and build programs that can then be transferred to the latest and greatest program of the day. I really appreciate seeing your courses online - what a great resource. Thanks for sharing!

WOW! I'll definitively have a careful look at your courses. I'm a veteran dealing with a tough challenge...

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This page contains a single entry by Andy Pershing published on October 21, 2010 2:45 PM.

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