Making Efficient Animations in Matplotlib with Blitting

By Emily Dolson on January 20, 2015 in Information / 2 Comments

I flip-flop between Python, R, and D3 for my data visualizations depending on what exactly I’m doing. My default, though, is definitely Python. One of the most well-established data visualization libraries in Python is Matplotlib. If you dig deep enough in it, you can find a wide variety of features beyond standard graphs. One of the less well-documented of these features is the animation library. The FuncAnimation class in particular is quite powerful, allowing you to programmatically generate the frames for your animation and compile them together. Jake VanderPlas has a great tutorial on using FuncAnimation which I’m not going to try to duplicate. Here, I’m just going to focus on a small but critical aspect of using FuncAnimation that is glossed over elsewhere: blitting. Here’s how critical blitting is: My first attempted Matplotlib animation took […]

Spatial Co-evolution in Age-Layered Planes

By Emily Dolson on January 13, 2015 in Review / 0 Comments

I recently read a cool paper from GECCO 2012 called “Spatial Co-Evolution: Quicker, Fitter and Less Bloated” [1] by Robin Harper. This paper explores some benefits of the Spatial Co-evolution in Age-Layered Planes (SCALP) algorithm, originally described by Harper in a previous paper (paywall) [2]. In SCALP, the population lives in a three-dimensional grid of cells. Each cell is inhabited by both a solver (the “host”) and a test case (the “parasite”). Solvers try to find the right answer for each test case that is either next to or below them. They gain fitness by more closely approximating the desired answer. Test cases, on the other hand, gain fitness by being hard to get right – fitter test cases are those for which solvers have higher error. That explains the “spatial co-evolution” part of the algorithm, but what about the age-layered planes? […]

7 Grad School Survival Tips

As many of us are starting the winter semester, it seemed an opportune time to discuss surviving not just the winter weather (here’s hoping Michigan’s winter isn’t as bad as last year!), but the rather mentally and emotionally trying process that is graduate school. I’m currently in my third year at MSU and am just finishing up classes, so these tips are only guaranteed to be even partially relevant for your first few years, but hopefully they continue to help me and you in our final years as well!

An Academic Christmas Carol: Part 7

By Emily Dolson on December 29, 2014 in Humor, Work/Life Balance / 1 Comment

Missed the beginning? Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Part 7 Scrooge awoke with a start. He was in his own bed. And seemingly alive! What a relief! He bounced out of bed and ran to his window. Looking down, he saw a student walking by on the street outside and called down to her “You there! What day is it?” “It’s Christmas day, sir!” the student called back, looking a bit perplexed.