WP3: Component architecture

by Luca De Feo
Project review – 3rd reporting period

A little bird told me...

...that you wanted a VRE

Why just one?

Architecture of OpenDreamKit's VREs

   User Interfaces / Collaborative workspaces
 (Jupyter, Simulagora, CoCalc, Google Colab, ...)
(Python, GAP, MMT, PARI/GP, SageMath, Singular, ...)
       ↓                                ↓
Modules, Libraries                   Database
(LinBox, MPIR, ...)           (LMFDB, MathHub, ....)

Components should be

  • Flexible. Enable components to be flexibly combined;
  • Portable. Enable components run smoothly across a wide range of environments (e.g., cloud, local, server, ...);
  • Modular. Develop, demonstrate, standardize APIs;
  • Open. Streamline user/developer workflows.

Tell me who you are...

...a VRE for every user

"Adrian is a student in Applied Algebra. For his Cryptography course, he programs elliptic curve cryptography in SageMath on his Windows laptop."

the newbie VRE

Betty is a researcher in Number Theory. Her group owns a powerful Debian Linux compute server. She wants to query data on modular forms from LMFDB and compute integral bases for their Hecke fields using PARI/GP.

screenshot of apt-get

the old school VRE

Charlie teaches Group Theory in a Masters program. He wants to evolve his group's old school compute server into a browser-based VRE for his students to work on a collaborative assignment based on GAP.

the college VRE

Dominique is an engineer at CNRS, she wants to set-up a Jupyter service on her national infrastructure for a large research project needing an HPC cluster.

the scalable VRE


WP3 is about the plumbing necessary to make all these deployments possible... supported by documentation, tutorials, instructibles, and interaction with the communities:

What did we focus on during RP3?

  1. Packaging / Deployments (D3.10)
  2. Integration of parallel components (D3.11)
  3. Maintenance/evolution of components (T3.1-4)

1. Packaging / Deployments

Aim 2: Make it easy for teams of researchers of any size to set up custom, collaborative Virtual Research Environments tailored to their specific needs, resources and workflows. The VRE should support the entire life-cycle of computational work in mathematical research, from initial exploration to publication, teaching and outreach.


  • Rewritten and officially supported libGAP (in GAP 4.10).
  • Docker images (D3.1), Binder integration, tutorials / blog posts on Docker-based deployments.
  • SageMath on Windows installer (D3.7).
  • Packaging for major Linux distributions (D3.10), and more...

Linux distributions

Milestone 5: “ODK’s computational components available on major platforms” (month 42).

User story: users shall be able to easily install ODK’s computational components on the three major platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux) via their standard distribution channels.

  • Packages available for all components on Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch, Gentoo, ...
  • Conda Forge packages


  • Dependency management (e.g.: the Debian SageMath package has 593 dependencies)
  • Reducing the amount of software patches


  • All ODK components packaged in Debian/Ubuntu since 2017 (Debian 8.0 stretch, ~50 packages)
  • Other major distributions (Fedora, Arch, ...) since longer
In [29]:
import requests, json, io
from PIL import Image
from matplotlib import pyplot as plt
import matplotlib.ticker as mtick
from datetime import date


Based upon voluntary reports from ~30k users

In [137]:
arch_url = 'https://pkgstats.archlinux.de/api/packages/%s/series?startMonth=%s&endMonth=%s'
start, end = '201509', '201908'
systems = ['jupyter', 'pari', 'singular', 'gap', 'sagemath', 'scilab-bin']#, 'chromium', 'firefox']
stats = { s: requests.get(arch_url % (s, start, end)).json() for s in systems }
In [138]:
fig = plt.figure(1, (10,5)); ax = fig.add_subplot(1,1,1); ax.yaxis.set_major_formatter(mtick.PercentFormatter())
for s in systems:
    data = [(date(int(m['startMonth'] // 100), int(m['startMonth'] % 100), 1), 
            for m in stats[s]['packagePopularities']]
    ax.plot(*zip(*data), label=s)
ax.legend(title="Arch package statistics")
<matplotlib.legend.Legend at 0x7facf1901a10>


Based on ~200K voluntary submissions

In [143]:
deb_url = 'https://qa.debian.org/cgi-bin/popcon-data?packages=%s;from_date=%s;to_date=%s'
start, end = '2015-09-01', '2019-08-31'
systems = 'jupyter-notebook scilab pari-gp gap singular sagemath'
stats = requests.get(deb_url % (systems, start, end)).json()
In [144]:
fig = plt.figure(1, (10,5)); ax = fig.add_subplot(1,1,1); ax.yaxis.set_major_formatter(mtick.PercentFormatter())
for s in systems.split():
    data = [(date.fromisoformat(d), (v['vote'] + v['old'] + v['recent'] + v['no_files']) / 2000)
            for d,v in stats[s].items()]
    data.sort(key=lambda a : a[0])
    ax.plot(*zip(*data), label=s)
ax.legend(title='Debian package statistics')
<matplotlib.legend.Legend at 0x7facf1722510>

OpenDreamKit adoption

% of Jupyter users are also OpenDreamKit users:

  • Arch: 34%
  • Debian/Ubuntu: 58%

This percentages are decreasing, because popularity of Jupyter is increasing faster than popularity of (already well established) mathematical software.

Conda packages

https://anaconda.org/conda-forge/gap, https://anaconda.org/conda-forge/pari, https://anaconda.org/conda-forge/sage/, https://anaconda.org/conda-forge/singular

  • 43k downloads for for gap
  • 40k downloads for pari
  • 26k downloads for sage and singular

Compare with https://anaconda.org/conda-forge/notebook, which states 2M downloads for jupyter.

2. Integration of parallel components

Objective 8: Demonstrate the effectiveness of Virtual Research Environments built on top of OpenDreamKit components for a number of real-world use cases that traverse domains.

D3.11: HPC enabled SageMath distribution

  • Integration of part of the outputs from WP5 (Singular, GAP, PARI/GP, LinBox) into a single software;
  • Experiment on the interaction of the various parallel frameworks.

Exposing parallel features of WP5 through a single runtime API


Code quality

  • GAP code test coverage 69% → 75% from release 4.9 to 4.10.

User contributed code

  • 80% of GAP packages active in 2019.
  • 143 SageMath packages on PyPI in 2019.

KPIs (cont'd)


  • 80k downloads (GitHub) for SageMath on Windows since first release in 2017.
  • Packaging (not counting alt. methods, such as Conda):
    • Arch: 34% of Jupyter users are also ODK users;
    • Debian/Ubuntu: 58% of Jupyter users are also ODK users.
  • Conda: 25K-50K pulls of ODK images.

The near future


Long term sustainability

OpenDreamKit has lifted to the horizon 2020 mathematical software that is as much as 40 years old! This would have been

  • Impossible without modularization
  • Impossible without collaboration and resource sharing
  • Impossible without updating technology stacks
  • Impossible without Research Software Engineers

Software that lives its own life is bound to become a unicorn or die.
Open source software thrives in shared responsibility, is durable by design.

Lessons learned

  • Modular approaches adapt to the users' needs better.
  • When you extract a component from a pre-existing project, and make it available separately, new usage patterns appear (see CyPari, libGAP, Docker images, ...)
  • Technologies come and go (see Docker, Conda, Binder), new possibilities appear. We need to constantly keep updating our components to not fall behind.