The Hacker Within, University of Birmingham, UK

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Most work in academia makes use of computing to analyze data. Over the last decade there has been an explosion in the number, range and flexibility of software for data analysis. With so much choice, how do we choose the right tools? In the face of such complexity, how do we learn to work efficiently and simply, so we can share our work, and properly report our analyses? We need to find - The Hacker Within.


The Hacker Within is a monthly peer learning group for sharing skills and best practices for research computing and data science. In these friendly sessions, peers at all levels of experience share topics useful in our data analysis and software development workflows.

This meeting would be a great venue for introducing new libraries, showing off useful features of a data processing/analysis/visualisation library or programming language you’re using, or bringing up a computational problem you’re having.

We plan to have regular talks where we present to each other on useful and important tools and practices for effective computing. We aim to build a community to support the spread of these tools and practices across the University and beyond.


We started this group because we know that using the right tools reduces error and makes us more productive and better at collaborating. Technology changes fast, and finding the right tool or process for a particular task can be difficult; by presenting the tools that we use and sharing our expertise, we can all learn new ways of working more effectively.


Anyone interested in how to learn and do things by programming computers is welcome to come to our meetings. You don’t need to be affiliated with the University of Birmingham and you don’t need to come to every meeting. There is no set of prerequisites, although we frequently use the command line, Python, R, version control and Jupyter notebooks.

We decide the topics by negotiation in the meeting and on our mailing list, but the main staff contacts are:


The meetings move around quite a bit. Please see the upcoming meetings page for the location of the next meeting.


We will meet on the third Monday of each month, to start off with, at a time / venue that may shift from meeting to meeting (see above).

Talk videos

Have a look at the Hacker Within Canvas course for links to talk videos, if they are available.