Thursday, May 18, 2017

Introducing Our 2017 Keystone Sponsor: Intel!

It has been a trend over the past several years that our top sponsors — the companies who step forward to make the biggest investment in PyCon and its community — tend to be companies that not only use Python for their own development, but who turn around and offer Python as a crucial tool for their own customers. And that is certainly true of PyCon’s biggest sponsor this year.

PyCon 2017’s Keystone Sponsor is Intel Corporation!

Did you see Intel’s booth in the Expo Hall at PyCon 2016 last year? It was a phenomenon. I remember remarking to a fellow volunteer that Intel was making stunningly good use of their space. Their booth was very nearly a small self-contained conference of its own. It featured a large display and space for a speaker to stand, which Intel used to run a busy schedule of quick presentations and tutorials that focused on both Intel hardware and their support tools for developers. There always seemed to be an attentive crowd gathered whenever I would pass by.

Given Intel’s contribution to last year’s our Expo Hall, I was especially happy when I received word that they are stepping forward as our Keystone sponsor this year.

Intel’s investment in Python is an index of how prominent the language is becoming as a standard tool for data — a startling development for those of us who have traditionally associated computation with arcane compiled languages like Fortran and the C language family. But an easy-to-read and easy-to-write language like Python is of course a perfect fit for professionals who write code not for its own sake, but because they have some bigger job to do.

Whatever data and or compute problem a professional is tackling, they really want a programming language that will get out of their way and let them get their work done. They don’t want to be staring at their code because they are hung up on some sharp edge of a language’s syntax or rules. They want a language that is nearly transparent, that lets them look past the code at the problem they are trying to solve, and Python is filling that role for increasing numbers of people.

As Intel has stepped forward to offer their own distribution of Python — which compiles the language and its data libraries to take the best possible advantage of Intel processors and compute cores — it has been heartening to see their engagement with the existing Python community and its standard open-source tools. For example, instead of proffering yet another install mechanism for Python, Intel not only offers support for the standard “pip” installer but have also partnered with Continuum Analytics — a faithful sponsor of PyCon now for more than half a decade — to deliver their Intel Distribution for Python using Continuum’s “conda” install system that is so beloved by scientists.

The range of data problems against which Python is now flung every day is evidenced by the range of data tools that it now supports. Glancing just at Intel’s latest release notes, for example, one sees mention of a whole range of operations from different domains — Fourier transforms, NumPy vector operations, Scikit-learn machine learning optimizations, and even an accelerated neural network library.

We are excited that the elegant and simple Python language has been discovered by data scientists, academics, professionals, and students. And we are excited that Intel has chosen to support PyCon as our 2017 Keynote Sponsor as part of their own effort to make Intel hardware and compute services a standard choice for Python’s ever-widening community. Thank you!

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