Wes McKinney's Career In Python For Data Analysis - Episode 203

Summary

Python has become one of the dominant languages for data science and data analysis. Wes McKinney has been working for a decade to make tools that are easy and powerful, starting with the creation of Pandas, and eventually leading to his current work on Apache Arrow. In this episode he discusses his motivation for this work, what he sees as the current challenges to be overcome, and his hopes for the future of the industry.

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  • Your host as usual is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Wes McKinney about his contributions to the Python community and his current projects to make data analytics easier for everyone

Interview

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • You have spent a large portion of your career on building tools for data science and analytics in the Python ecosystem. What is your motivation for focusing on this problem domain?
  • Having been an open source author and contributor for many years now, what are your current thoughts on paths to sustainability?
  • What are some of the common challenges pertaining to data analysis that you have experienced in the various work environments and software projects that you have been involved in?
    • What area(s) of data science and analytics do you find are not receiving the attention that they deserve?
  • Recently there has been a lot of focus and excitement around the capabilities of neural networks and deep learning. In your experience, what are some of the shortcomings or blind spots to that class of approach that would be better served by other classes of solution?
  • Your most recent work is focused on the Arrow project for improving interoperability across languages. What are some of the cases where a Python developer would want to incorporate capabilities from other runtimes?
    • Do you think that we should be working to replicate some of those capabilities into the Python language and ecosystem, or is that wasted effort that would be better spent elsewhere?
  • Now that Pandas has been in active use for over a decade and you have had the opportunity to get some space from it, what are your thoughts on its success?
    • With the perspective that you have gained in that time, what would you do differently if you were starting over today?
  • You are best known for being the creator of Pandas, but can you list some of the other achievements that you are most proud of?
  • What projects are you most excited to be working on in the near to medium future?
  • What are your grand ambitions for the future of the data science community, both in and outside of the Python ecosystem?
  • Do you have any parting advice for active or aspiring data scientists, or resources that you would like to recommend?

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA