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Computing in the City

Billionaire James Simons is opening a new research institute in New York with a computational focus, according to the New York Times.

The Flatiron Institute is to develop science software tools, filling what Simons and his wife Mary tell the Times is an overlooked gap. The Times notes that while computing programs are common in scientific fields, the programs are often one-off programs written by graduate students for their own projects. "Those people aren't great coders, for the most part," James Simons says.

Instead, the Flatiron Institute is to employ a number of professional computer programmers who will develop programs for in-house use as well as for others.

The Times says the idea for the institute came about during a brainstorming session on what's needed to push science forward. Ingrid Daubechies, a Belgian physicist and mathematician, told them that better computational tools needed to be developed.

"She said there is a real need for analyzing big data," Mary Simons adds. "She felt these kinds of technologies and approaches would be really helpful in addressing some of the scientific problems we had now."