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Issue 6 What is Julia?

Julia is a high performance, open-source programming language sponsored by Darpa, Intel and IBM that is optimized for artificial intelligence, numerical analysis, and computational science.

Type Technology
Topic Artificial Intelligence
Urgency Not urgent at this time
Maturity Early adoption
Viability Unlikely to escape the lab
Impact Not changing the commercial landscape

Overview

What it is: Julia is a high performance, open-source programming language sponsored by Darpa, Intel and IBM that is optimized for artificial intelligence, numerical analysis, and computational science.

What it does: Julia allows programmers to develop high-performance applications that perform calculations on an immense number of variables.

Why it matters: By accelerating development, Julia lowers the cost of coding complex applications including Artificial Intelligence. It can therefore speed innovation and enable enterprises to derive a business advantage from such leading-edge areas.

What to do about it: Encourage your programmers to experiment with Julia to see if it would be appropriate for current and future development initiatives, and to learn what its ramifications might be existing environments and architectures.

Advantages and Position Over Other Programming Languages

Alumnae from MIT originally designed Julia to combine the ease-of-use of Python, the speed of C, the statistical prowess of Ruby, and the mathematical leanings of MatLab. Julia has the ability to execute code expressions simultaneously or sequentially depending on how it is written, yet it is still type-safe. Julia also possesses the ability to directly call functions from the C programming language without having to utilize specialized connector software.

Despite being only seven years old, Julia is quickly rising to become the programming language of choice for a variety of applications. It is the only high-level and dynamic programming language in the coveted “petaflop” club, i.e. it has been used to simulate over 180 million astronomical objects on the super-computer, Cori.

Deployment

Companies use Julia for a variety of applications, across many sectors:

  • Amazon – deep learning research
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of New York – economic modeling
  • Blackrock – time-series analytics
  • Path BioAnalytics – Cystic Fibrosis research
  • Cisco – network security software prototyping
  • University of California – Berkeley, in partnership with Hyundai – autonomous race car navigation.

About Julia Computing Inc.

The authors of Julia formed Julia Computing Inc. in 2015 to increase adoption, deepen market penetration, and create products that make the language easier to use and scale. General Catalyst, an American Investment Firm, invested $4.6 million in the startup in 2017. The organization releases a monthly newsletter about new collaborations and achievements accomplished with the programming language, as well as engaging in certain high-profile collaborations with large corporations in order to advance the language. It also helps skilled coders with companies such as Mitsubishi’s Electric Research Lab and Penn State’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Department.

Further Reading

Press Releases for Julia: https://juliacomputing.com/blog/

Programming Documentation: https://docs.julialang.org/en/v1/

Learn to Code in Julia: https://julialang.org/learning/

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