PyCon UK 2015


Brief outlines of each event will follow, especially check back in the weeks before the conference to see what has been added.


To be announced.


The PyCon UK Dinner

Details of the dinner will be published here.

The Friday Night Social

You made it through the first day! Well done! Round it off with a special bring <something> to sell charity event in memory of PyCon UK Chairman John Pinner (all proceeds to be donated to Cancer Research UK).

The Mellow Night

Details of where to collapse in a heap of tired out developers will be published here.

PSF Reception

Fellows of the Python Software Foundation are invited to meet and share a pint of real ale (other beverages are available). Also there is likely to be members of the PSF Board present who we can hug and/or interrogate.

PyCon UK Diversity Reception

The PyCon UK Chair and organising committee invites DjangoGirls, TransCode and other attendees from under-represented groups (as well as supporters and other interested parties) to meet each other and the PyCon UK Crew in a special party to celebrate the diversity of the UK Python Community.

Plenary Sessions

Image of Lightning Talk Man

The Lightning Talk Show

Lightning Talks are speeches limited to 5 minutes, covering any topic.

The Lightning Talk Man orchestrates the proceedings. He ensures that timing is kept and links the talks with his own stories. That way he keeps the audience attentive, forms the aesthetics and promotes the speakers.

From Stuttgart, Germany, Harald Armin Massa has been the MC of the PyCon UK lightning talks since PyCon UK hosted Europython in 2009 and 2010 and we decided we like him so much that we had to keep him.

The PyCon UK Panel

In the style of Question Time (or Gardeners' Question Time, but without the plants), PyCon UK's acting Chair Zeth chairs a panel of Python experts who each give an short overview of how they found the conference and then try to answer your questions about the future of Python, Software development and the meaning of life, the universe and everything.

The PyCon UK panel will include:

  • Michael Foord: Python core developer and Go programmer. Works for Canonical, knows more than is healthy about Python testing and Cloud computing.
  • Sarah Mount: Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Wolverhampton. Loves to talk about distributed Python and concurrency. Is Chair of the science track at PyCon UK.
  • Van Lindberg: a smiley chap and Vice President of Intellectual Property at Rackspace and chairman of the PSF.
  • Larry Hastings: one of the main CPython core contributors and the Release Manager for Python releases.
  • Nicholas Tollervey: freelance Python developer, classically trained musician, philosophy graduate, teacher, writer, organiser of the education track, founder of the London Python Code Dojo and PSF ambassador to the BBC micro:bit project. He enjoys spending his copious free time playing the tuba or hacking on distributed hash tables.

Lightning PyKids UK

In the most exciting part of the conference, we see what the PyKids have been doing in their own track, not to be missed.

The Non-Closing Closing

Here we end the first-part of the conference, and move our focus into the sprints. It is the closing because the crew now let their hair down and become normal sprinters but it is non-closing because half of the delegates are still there the next day. There is no spoon!

Python for Science

Python for science is open to all delegates but particularly aimed at scientists of all kinds, data scientists, researchers and professional software engineers on Python in the science field.

Accelerating Scientific Code with Numba

Graham Markall, Continuum Analytics

This tutorial will provide an overview of Numba, a just-in-time Python compiler focused on numerical computing. Originally aimed at computations using Numpy arrays, it has been expanded to work with other Python types and can speed up computations that require more than just fast linear algebra operations. Numba targets both CPUs and CUDA GPUs by generating native code using the LLVM compiler infrastructure.

This introduction aims to span the breadth of use cases rather than focusing on a single area in depth. This is in order to enable the selection of appropriate portions of code to use with Numba, and the correct selection of Numba's facilities in each case.

Areas that will be covered include:

  • An overview of the type system, with a view to understanding and overcoming typing issues,
  • Compilation of Python functions using the @jit decorator,
  • Creation of Numpy ufuncs in Python using the @vectorize decorator,
  • Understanding the performance of compiled code, and performance optimisation tips,
  • Debugging facilities in Numba.

This tutorial is intended for an audience of programmers and data scientists who have an interest in speeding up numerical routines, and people with a general interest in high-performance Python. In order to get started quickly, it is recommended that attendees install the Anaconda Python distribution or Miniconda, as this provides a robust mechanism for installing Numba on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.

Getting started with testing scientific programs

Martin Jones, University of Edinburgh

When writing programs for scientific research, we tend to be focussed on getting results, so testing is generally not a priority. Often, this means that our data-processing pipelines end up incorporating programs that don't have test suites. Examples of high-profile retractions due to software errors illustrate the dangers of this approach.

This session will be a gentle introduction to testing, aimed at people writing scientific software who would like to start taking advantage of automated testing. We'll start with Python's built-in tools and moving on to using the Nose testing framework. We'll look at the problems that testing can solve, and see some best-practises for writing tests.

The goal of this training session is for attendees to come away with:

  1. an understanding of some basic testing concepts,
  2. some hands-on experience of running tests and interpreting the output, and
  3. an idea of how to start applying these tools to their own projects.

Attendees should have a basic knowledge of Python and should be familiar with the idea of functions, conditions and exceptions. They should also have the Nose package installed (pip install nose should work in most cases).

Tit for Tat, Evolution, Game Theory and the Python Axelrod Library

Vince Knight, Cardiff University

This talk will begin with the origin of species. More precisely with a discussion of Darwin's theory of evolution and how Game Theory has been used to explain/illustrate aspects of cooperation in complex dynamics.

In 1980, Professor Robert Axelrod created a computer tournament inviting submissions of code snippets that would compete against each other. A large amount of academic study has concentrated on the outcomes of this experiment. The particularity of the outcome, was that even when the tournament was repeated with a much larger number of strategies, a very simple strategy was victorious: Tit for Tat. This strategy tries it's best to cooperate with other strategies!

The talk will briefly discuss all of this but will concentrate on a new Python library (pip install axelrod). This project, hosted on github allows anyone to recreate the tournament but also (and arguably more importantly) submit strategies via pull request!

It is anticipated that this talk would be appreciated by coders of all levels as it gives a very low entry level for a contribution to an open source project. It should also be of interest to the more experienced coders as it is hoped that novel strategies will be devised and submitted. Indeed, historically strategies have been mainly devised by mathematicians and economists, surely the pyconuk attendees will bring something new to the repository?

Finally, for those who are perhaps not interested in 'playing along' the talk will also describe the newest addition to the project which is a Django project aiming to bring this study of evolution to a popular audience.

Ship Data Science Products!

Ian Ozsvald,

Building and shipping working Data Science and scientific products is hard - learn from 10 years of Ian's experience at to find efficient ways through the mess of bad data, complicated data workflows and weakly designed code through to successfully deployed projects.

This talk will include ways of getting data, cleaning and debugging it, approaches to deployment and various tips I've picked up along the way that'll save you lots of time.

If you're fresh out of academia and want to do science then this will open your eyes to how 'stuff works in industry'. If you're in a growing data science team and you want to do more science and spend less time fighting fires - this talk is definitely for you. Be more effective, stop fighting fires and burning time.

Ian Ozsvald is co-founder of the 1,500+ member PyDataLondon meetup and conference series, a published O'Reilly author, international speaker and teacher and he runs a 10 year old Data Science consulting group in London (

iCE: Interactive cloud experimentation

George Lestaris, Pivotal

In the cloud-computing era, many technologies like Puppet, chef, ansible, etc arose to take care of setting up, maintaining and provisioning virtual machine clusters. However these tools do not prove to be practical for cases where the user wants to test a deployment or try a small experiment involving many VMs in the cloud. Additionally they lack interactiveness and the user is unable to hijack or influence the deployment process during runtime.

Python iCE is a tool that aims to enable interactive cloud experimentation. It can deploy VM clusters in EC2-compatible public clouds and allow the user to manage them through SSH. It formalises an experiment as a Python script with fabric tasks which can run on every or selected VMs in a cluster.

It also integrates with IPython and it has its own shell that allows for interactive handling of the VMs. iCE is built with well-established Python libraries like IPython, boto and fabric.

iCE comes with a lightweight agent that registers a VM to an experiment's pool. This agent will run automatically for VMs deployed with iCE but users can manually run it on already running VMs to utilise them through iCE.

It's IPython shell facilitates the development and execution of experiments. Its main goal is to bring the ease of use and interactiveness of single-machine SSH sessions to virtual clusters.

Power: Python in Astronomy

Tomas James, Cardiff University

The universe is a wild and wonderful place. From the quantum mechanical effects that power the Sun, to the gravitational effects that suck everything in to a black hole, one thing links them all: they can all be analysed using Python.

Python's clear syntax and extensibility makes it an incredibly usable and streamlined language for scientists. We'll cover off exactly how scientists use Python, what Python can do that other languages can't, and just how you can use a simple Python script to generate beautiful astronomical images from the comfort of your favourite armchair.

Pythons and Earthquakes

Girish Kumar, Uprise Marketing

In this session, we will cover how Python is used in providing near-real-time maps of landslide hazard following large earthquakes. Our tool is called 'shakeslide' for post-disaster response, analysis and research and I will discuss the process of how a research paper was converted into a functional web application

Getting meaning from scientific articles

Eleonore Mayola, ClojureBridge

The bibliography process means every scientist regularly has to go through a lot of published articles in parallel to her/his research. The aim is 1) to know what other researchers are doing: they might be ahead of you, they might have proven your project is a dead end, 2) get some context to interpret your research results. Using specialised search engines can be inefficient if you don't use the "right" keywords. Researcher also tend to find bibliography boring so it would be interesting to automate part of the process!

In my talk I'll answer the following question: can Python machine learning libraries (nltk, scikit-learn) be used to determine whether a research article is worth reading? I'll use the Natural Language Processing to identify articles topics and train a classifier to distinguish between relevant and non-relevant articles depending and someone's area of research.

Demo: Simple web services for scientific data

Alys Brett, Culham Centre for Fusion Energy

Would you like to let people access your data over the web or generate plots on the fly when someone loads a web page? This session will introduce the benefits of creating web services for accessing scientific data and let you try out the basics for yourself.

It is now common for online companies to provide programmatic access to data - web APIs where data resources in many forms can be accessed via a URL. This approach can be very useful for scientific data too. One benefit is that you don't have to worry about what platforms and languages to support - the data can be used by anything that can make HTTP requests. You might think that creating this kind of web service is solely the preserve of professional engineers but, with the power of Python, this is changing. There are very convenient packages (such as Flask and Requests) that make it incredibly simple to get started.

The session will start with a demonstration of some web services we've developed for nuclear fusion data from the JET experiment, including a plot server and a data browsing tool. This will be followed by a mini-tutorial to help you get started with harnessing the power of HTTP web services.

Lunchtime events

The PyCon UK Poster Session

The PyCon UK Job Fair

Get recruited by one of our sponsors! Dozens of people have gotten jobs because of connections made at PyCon UK, although sometimes in the corridor or socials! Come and meet our sponsor companies and also meet with fellow Python developers for tips on the all important Python Job Market.

Single Board Computer Hackspace

Time to get tangible and share what you have made with your Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Beagle Board, re-engineered phone or other embedded or otherwise interesting hardware project.

Code Clinic

The Code Clinic has been a very popular feature of PyCons. You bring your code, because:

  • You're having a problem with it, or
  • you're very proud of it

and everyone joins in admiring it or suggesting improvements.

It's suitable for all Python programmers, whether new to Python or absolute gurus, and will give you lots of ideas for improving your own code.

Also, it's really good if you're a relatively new Python programmer and need some help in understanding features of the language and concepts new to you.

Python Dojo


Monday is the Sprint day, we split into small groups and in each group a member of an Open Source Python project guides a small group in how to hack on the project. Improve your Python skills in a fun, practical and effective way.

Don't be afraid to commit

A workshop/tutorial for Python/Django developers who would like to contribute more to the projects they use, but need more grounding in some of the tools required.

The workshop will take participants through the complete cycle of identifying a simple issue in a Django or Python project, writing a patch with documentation, and submitting it.

Read more here: