Jupyter Project Celebrates 20 Year Anniversary
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Friday, 27 August 2021

Project Jupyter is 20 years old. The project was created with the goal of  develop open-source software, open-standards, and services for interactive computing.

Jupyter was originally part of the IPython project, and was spun off in 2014 by UC Berkeley Associate Statistics Professor Fernando Pérez. The name of the project is a combination of the names of the three core programming languages supported by Jupyter - Julia, Python and R. IPython is now a Python shell and a kernel for Jupyter.


Nearly 10 million Jupyter notebooks have been made public by users on GitHub, and the tool is widely used to share scientific data and the formulae used for its analysis.

In honor of the anniversary, UC Berkely interviewed Pérez for his views on why he started the project and what he sees as the future for Project Jupyter.

Pérez said he had a two-fold goal when he created IPython; firstly to have a tool to create the kind of workflow that is typical in the sciences:

"We don't tend to program with a well pre-defined objective. We use programming languages in an interactive discovery process."

Pérez realized it was possible to use Python in an interactive, exploratory manner, but it was limited. iPython was a way to make it easier to achieve this exploratory process. He chose Python is of its ecosystem of open tools, and the freedom this would provide to share research with others.

While much of the work on Jupyter and other open science tools is done by volunteers, Pérez is clear that it's important to pay people for this work. He says the projects involve people who need to think in the long term, and to include tasks including day-to-day maintenance, community engagements, and outreach:

"Some of these tasks are not always the most fun thing to do on a Friday night, and so they're the kind of things that don't get done if you're relying on volunteers. Others may be fun, but they may be long and hard and require dedicated effort, and unless you can really spend your whole day for days on end working on that problem, you're not going to be able to solve it."

He also points out that if you only rely on volunteers or on people who perhaps their job allows them to do the one thing they like, you will exclude parts of the population that don't have those affordances.

Asked what's next for Jupyter, Pérez says that he doesn't fully know, because he's now largely irrelevant in the project, and he means that in a good way. Despite this, he points to the infrastructure there now is between JupyterHub, JupyterLab and JupyterBook, which provides the foundation for collaborative, open science at scale.

Meanwhile, Pérez is involved in Pangeo, a community platform for Big Data geoscience.


More Information

UC Berkeley Interview With Perez

Project Jupyter


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