Originally created in 2009 and released to developers in 2012, the open-source language is claimed to combine the speed and popular features of the best scientific and technical software. The new language was developed, say its creators, to combine the best features of Ruby, MatLab, C, Python, R, and others.
“Julia has been revolutionizing scientific and technical computing since 2009,” says MIT Professor Alan Edelman, one of Julia’s original developers and director of the Julia Lab at MIT. “The release of Julia 1.0 signals that Julia is now ready to change the technical world by combining the high-level productivity and ease of use of Python and R with the lightning-fast speed of C++.”
Julia has more than 700 active open source contributors, 1,900 registered packages, 41,000 GitHub stars, 2 million downloads, and a reported 101% annual rate of download growth, say its developers. It is used at more than 700 universities and research institutions and by companies such as Aviva, BlackRock, Capital One, and Netflix.
For example, say the researchers, Julia is used by MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the Federal Aviation Administration to develop the Next-Generation Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS-X), by the MIT Operations Research Center to optimize school bus routing for Boston Public Schools, and by the MIT Robot Locomotion Group for robot navigation and movement.
In addition, they add, Julia is the only high-level dynamic programming language in the so-called “Petaflop Club,” having achieved 1.5 petaflop/s using 1.3 million threads, 650,000 cores and 9,300 Knights Landing (KNL) nodes to catalogue 188 million stars, galaxies, and other astronomical objects in 14.6 minutes on the world’s sixth-most powerful supercomputer.
Julia is also used to power self-driving cars and 3-D printers, as well as applications in precision medicine, augmented reality, genomics, machine learning, and risk management.