Mozilla is funding a way to support Julia in Firefox

by Catalin Cimpanu — last modified Jul 10, 2019 01:33 AM
Mozilla is funding a project for bringing the Julia programming language to Firefox and the general browser environment.

The blog post by Catalin Cimpanu was published in ZD Net on July 8, 2019.


The project received funding part of the Mozilla Research Grants for the first half of 2019, which the browser maker announced on Friday.

In April, when Mozilla opened this year's submissions period for research grants, the organization said it was looking for a way to bring data science and scientific computing tools to the web.

It said it was specifically interested in receiving submissions about supporting R or Julia at the browser level. Both R and Julia are programming languages designed for high-performance numerical, statistical, and computational science.

Mozilla engineers have worked in previous years to port data science tools at the browser level, as part of Project Iodide.

Previously, as part of this project, Mozilla engineers ported the Python interpreter to run in the browser using WebAssembly.

"This project, Pyodide, has demonstrated the practicality of running language interpreters in WebAssembly," Mozilla engineers said.

In April, Mozilla said it was willing to use a research grant to fund a team of developers to port either R or Julia to the browser via WebAssembly as well.

The end result should be a Firefox plugin, similar to how Pyodide works.

Valentin Churavy, an MIT Ph.D. student and a member of the official Julia team, has applied for a Mozilla research grant, which he subsequently received.

The Julia programming language was created in 2009, publicly released in 2012, and has gained a huge following ever since. It has quickly climbed the ranks of the world's most popular languages entering the Tiobe Top 50, has a huge following on GitHub, and was one of 2018 biggest risers.

In April, Mozilla engineers also offered a grand for porting Tor to work inside Firefox, to power a Tor-powered Super Private Browsing (SPB) mode for Firefox.

While there was no grant for a project of sorts, Mozilla will be funding a research project that aims to study the performance and anonymity features of the HTTP/2 and HTTP/3 protocols on the Tor network.

The full Mozilla research grants for H1 2019 are as follow:

Lead ResearchersInstitutionProject Title
Valentin Churavy MIT Bringing Julia to the Browser
Jessica Outlaw Concordia University of Portland Studying the Unique Social and Spatial affordances of Hubs by Mozilla for Remote Participation in Live Events
Neha Kumar Georgia Tech Missing Data: Health on the Internet for Internet Health
Piotr Sapiezynski, Alan Mislove, & Aleksandra Korolova Northeastern University & University of Southern California Understanding the impact of ad preference controls
Sumandro Chattapadhyay The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), India Making Voices Heard: Privacy, Inclusivity, and Accessibility of Voice Interfaces in India
Weihang Wang State University of New York Designing Access Control Interfaces for Wasmtime
Bernease Herman University of Washington Toward generalizable methods for measuring bias in crowdsourced speech datasets and validation processes
David Karger MIT Tipsy: A Decentralized Open Standard for a Microdonation-Supported Web
Linhai Song Pennsylvania State University Benchmarking Generic Functions in Rust
Leigh Clark University College Dublin Creating a trustworthy model for always-listening voice interfaces
Steven Wu University of Minnesota DP-Fathom: Private, Accurate, and Communication-Efficient
Nikita Borisov University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Performance and Anonymity of HTTP/2 and HTTP/3 in Tor

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