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Are there any other academic fields so dependent on a single piece of software the way that (experimental) particle physics is dependent on ROOT?



ROOT is not really a single piece of software.

One one side, you have the analysis libraries, who inherited the knowledge contained in the older FORTRAN libraries. From this point of view, both ROOT and its predecessor PAW, are excatly what you could expect from CERN: highest quality, thoroughly debugged and everything you may need as a particle physicist.

On the other side, you have the programming framework... and that's a different matter!

When I worked in the ATLAS data acquisition group, ROOT was frowned upon! Libraries were ok, but we needed a sane environment and we built it.

ROOT as a framework gave me the feeling it had been designed by inexperienced self-taught-from-trade-magazines developers who thought learning a bit of programming was too much hassle for the average physicist and thus they had to dumb ROOT down a lot.

But, as Mr. T reportedly said: it takes a smart guy to play dumb!


My field is control systems. Every academic I know, and every paper I’ve read which mentions a software stack, uses matlab/simulink. Simulink appears to me to have no good alternative (maybe jmodelica or something?) There are some python/Julia alternatives to matlab, but the existing control libraries are really pretty limited in comparison.

I’m not sure exactly how dependent particle physics is on ROOT, so direct comparison is difficult.


The Modelica systems are a good alternative, but don't really exist in high level languages yet, other than some transpilers which are a little iffy. We are planning to change that with Julia though which has enough of an ecosystem to easily build such an open source tool unlike Python or R.


Basically of modern convex optimization is heavily dependent on SNOPT. Deep learning research is heavily dependent on cuDNN


Not sure I agree with you on SNOPT. There are many many tools out there that I see people use for convex (and non convex) optimization. Especially considering a single license costs $6000 I would be surprised if SNOPT even captured a plurality of solvers in use.

FWIW in my department (Electrical Engineering) No one is using SNOPT for their work that I know of.


Also in EE, and I don’t know anybody using SNOPT for solving any kind of optimization (of which there are many).




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