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Lausanne Cheminformatics workshop and contest

Dietrich Rordorf from MDPI sent an announcement to the CHMINF mailing list about the upcoming 9th Workshop in Chemical Information. It will be on 12 September 2014 in Lausanne, Switzerland. It seems like it will be a nice meeting, so I thought to forward information about it here. They also have a software contest, with a 2,000 CHF prize, which I think will interest some of my readers.

The workshop has been around for 10 years, so I was a bit suprised that I hadn't heard of it before. Typically between 30 and 50 people attend, which I think is a nice size. The preliminary program is structured around 20 minute presentations, including:

If you know the authors, you might recognize that one is from Strasbourg and another London, and the rest from Switzerland. I can understand. From where I live in Sweden it will cost over US $300 in order to get there, and Lausanne doesn't have its own commercial airport so I would need to fly into Geneva or Bern, while my local air hub doesn't fly there directly.

But I live in a corner of Europe, and my constraints aren't yours.

Source code contest

I had an email conversation with Luc Patiny about an interesting aspect of the workshop. They are running a contest to identify the best open source cheminformatics tool of the year, with a prize of 2000 CHF. That's 1650 EUR, 2200 USD, 1300 GBP, or 15000 SEK, which is plenty enough for someone in Europe or even the US to be able to travel there! They have a time slot set aside for the winner of the contest to present the work. The main requirement is that contest participants are selected from submissions (1-2 pages long) to the open access journal Challenges. (And no, there are no journal page fees for this contest, so it doesn't seem like a sneaky revenue generating trick.)

The other requirement is that the submission be "open source". I put that in quotes because much of my conversation with Luc was to understand what they mean. They want people to be able to download the (unobsfucated) software source code for no cost and be able to read and review it to gain insight.

I think this is very much in line with classical peer review thought, even though it can include software which are neither open source nor free software. For example, software submissions for this contest could be "for research purposes only" or "not for use in nuclear reactors", or "redistributions of modified versions are not permitted."

Instead, I think their definition is more in line with Microsoft terms shared source.

In my case, my latest version of chemfp is 'commercial open source', meaning that those who pay me money for it get a copy of it under the MIT open source license. It's both "free software" and "open source", but it's not eligible for this workshop because it costs money to download it.

But I live in a corner of open source, and my constraints aren't yours. ;) If you have a free software project, open source software project, or shared source software project, then you might be interested in submitting it to this workshop and journal. If you win, think of it as an all-expenses paid trip to Switzerland. If you don't win, think of it as a free publication.


Andrew Dalke is an independent consultant focusing on software development for computational chemistry and biology. Need contract programming, help, or training? Contact me



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