Jul 12, 2019

Mozilla announced that it’s funding a project to bring the Julia programming language to Firefox

The latest recipients of a Mozilla Research Grant are a team of developers and data scientists working to bring a Julia runtime to the web browser. The Julia programming language was created in 2009 by MIT researchers, publicly released in 2012, and has quickly climbed the ranks in popularity. Julia is in the top 50 programming languages according to the Tiobe index and was one of the fastest growing languages in 2018.

Julia was carefully designed to solve big data and analytics problems. Fast like Java and C++, Julia works well as a production-ready language, but also maintains the functionality of popular data science environments like R and Python. Julia joins C, C++, and Fortran as high-level languages that have achieved petaFLOPS computations (that’s at least one quadrillion operations per second).

Mozilla has an impressive history of attempting to port popular data science tools to the browser ecosystem. Earlier this year, as part of a larger effort known as Project Iodide to bring data science tools to the browser, the engineering team at Mozilla created a browser port of the Python interpreter using WebAssembly.

Browsers are rarely regarded as a useful data science tool or environment. Clunky web frameworks, unwieldy JavaScript, and browser limitations make scripting languages and simple IDEs especially attractive for data scientists. But as browsers grow more powerful and solidify their role as the new universal operating system, Mozilla is looking to strengthen its reputation as the most flexible, powerful, and extensible browser available to consumers and developers.

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