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Paper: Transforming Science Code into Maintainable Software, Insights into the G-CLEF Exposure Time Calculator (ETC)
Volume: 523, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XXVIII
Page: 377
Authors: Paxson, C.; Miller, J. B.; Evans, J. D.
Abstract: We explore a common workflow in research institutions where science code is transformed into robust, maintainable, and expandable code. The case study presented is the Exposure Time Calculator (ETC) for the Giant Magellan Telescope Consortium Large Earth Finder (G-CLEF) spectrometer. We describe the process we took to develop functional requirements documentation and a web application from science code. The ETC provides a rich set of features to help the scientists estimate the performance of the instrument including: the computation of exposure time, SNR, and precision radial velocity, GUI text results, downloadable FITS standard compliant summary of results, and graphical displays. We highlight the importance of a functional requirements document for information exchange between scientist and engineer, where principles and assumptions can be collaboratively understood and solidified. As the document matures, scientists may use it as the basis to specify new requirements. We discuss the importance of making physical interpretations of the code, of understanding and ultimately cleaning science code magic numbers, and of comprehending the overall flow. This detailed analysis is important since requirements morph as the project progresses.
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