My Julia journey

In this post I am going to tell my Julia journey.

I have read about Julia but not actually use it before version 0.7 just before 1.0. I work on Machine Learning and stochastic optimization (with evolutionary computation). In Machine Learning (and Deep Learning) I work nicely with Python (Scikit-learn and Keras/PyTorch). However, in optimization I usually did prototype in Python, and later have to translate to C++ for performance (well, not while the function evaluation takes too much). Now I starting using Julia for these algorithms (I prefer it a lot against Numpy). For ML I am actually testing options with Julia (MLJ.jl and Flux mainly).

My main problem is the lack of examples/tutorials in the documentation for several packages. Also, some missing functionality. I am going to explain it with an example. I did a small website in Julia to receive a file and transform it (for learning, I have experience in other technologies like Python/JS, ..) I did it using Frankling have to create my own website, it was nice. The server side I have two problems:

  • HTTP.jl is simple but not very complete, I have to create my own function to extract the POST parameters.

  • I wanted to have error messages in two different languages (English and Spanish), but the Gettext package did required Python, and I do not want to install it in the server only for that. So, I create my own package SimpleTranslation.jl to translate easy messages in a simple way.

Usually I create scripts, but in Julia the time required to load the packages make them slower than similar to Python. In order to reduce that problem I recently created DaemonMode.jl package, that got a great interest (even it was mentioned in JuliaCon 2020!).

The good and bad:

  • good: How easily is to create packages, and register it. The syntax, and many great packages: DataFrames, Plots, …

  • bad: documentation of several packages. There is the API, but learning to use them usually implies several tests.

To summarise, it is a great language. When you use it, sometimes to affort small problems due to a not too mature ecosystem, but the evolution is clearly to best. For sure I will use it!

Daniel Molina
Professor of Artificial Intelligence

My research interests include distributed robotics, mobile computing and programmable matter.