Data science startup co-founded by former UIDAI executive gets $600K

Julia Computing LLC, a startup that aims to commercialise the open source programming language Julia, has received a $600K grant from the US-based Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, according to a press release.

The capital will be used to develop the existing beta level of language and move its core open-source computing language and libraries into its first production version over two years.

As part of this, the Julia team is also looking to make improvements in various libraries (statistical, mathematical, graphical, etc.) as well as develop a debugger, a profiler and an integrated development environment.

The startup was founded in May this year by the creators of Julia language – Viral Shah, Jeff Bezanson, Stefan Karpinski and MIT applied mathematics professor Alan Edelman – to cater to the demand for commercial support for the language. Viral Shah is also a former UIDAI executive.

Julia Computing provides a sophisticated compiler, a distributed parallel execution, numerical accuracy and an extensive library of fast mathematical functions.

The open source language Julia, a free alternative to proprietary tools for doing data science, like MathWorks’ MATLAB and Wolfram’s Mathematica, and more contemporary than open-source languages R and Python, was first launched in 2012.

"Scientists are limited by current practices to extract useful information which can hamper research. We need new tools that can make it easier. The Julia language offers significant benefits to data-driven researchers and should help speed the pace of discovery," said Chris Mentzel, director of the Moore Foundation’s Data-Driven Discovery Initiative.

It currently operates from its offices in Boston and New York and has plans to come up with an office in Bengaluru as well.

The startup claims a clientele base in these cities as well as a few others, where the Julia tool is being used in universities for teaching and research, and by businesses in areas as diverse as engineering, finance, and ecommerce.

Viral graduated from University of Mumbai and did his PhD in computer science from University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to become a founding partner at Julia Computing, Viral worked as manager (financial inclusion) with Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the government agency involved in issuing the Aadhaar card.

At UIDAI, he designed the policies and technology behind the Aadhaar-based payments systems for government payments and the e-KYC platform.

UIDAI aims to collect the biometric and demographic data of residents, store them in a centralised database, and issue a 12-digit unique identity number called Aadhaar to each resident in the country.

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