UC Berkeley is joining an ambitious effort to advance open source research, education and public service across the University of California system.

The Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS) will lead the university’s involvement in this initiative, launching an office to house the campus’s extensive open source expertise. This program office is one of six in the UC system that will work individually and collectively to benefit society through open source endeavors.

"BIDS will serve as an interdisciplinary community hub where computing, data, science and society intersect," said Fernando Pérez, faculty director of the institute. "We are excited to collaborate with our UC partners to build a robust open source ecosystem within the UC system."

This effort will be enabled by a $1.85 million Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant to UC Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Davis, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. It will be led by James Davis from Santa Cruz, which launched its Open Source Program Office using a 2022 grant from the foundation. There are 11 co-principal investigators from the six campuses.

Pérez and BIDS Assistant Researcher Stéfan van der Walt, co-principal investigators for Berkeley, are pioneers in the field of open source software development. Pérez is the creator of IPython and co-founder of Project Jupyter, and van der Walt is the founder of scikit-image. Both of these are foundational tools that have underpinned, innovated and accelerated this space.

BIDS’ involvement in this joint effort is a reflection of Berkeley’s commitment to promote open source principles and interdisciplinary collaboration. It also illustrates Pérez’s vision for the institute, which is part of Berkeley’s College for Computing, Data Science, and Society, as a home for open source, open science and open scholarship.

The foundation’s funds will primarily support scoping activities, campus outreach and fundraising efforts, with the goal of establishing fully functioning program offices at Berkeley and the other campuses by the end of the two-year grant period. 

For example, BIDS plans to host a campus event focused on open source, featuring invited guests and speakers from academia, industry and the open source community. This event will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to engage with the campus’s open source program office.

"Berkeley is honored to participate in this groundbreaking project in collaboration with our UC partners," said Jarrod Millman, senior open source scientific Python developer at BIDS. "This grant will enable us to harness the collective expertise of multiple campuses to build a robust UC-wide open source ecosystem."