Conference Recap: PyCascades 2020

Day one of PyCascades 2020 (image credit:

Earlier this month, I was fortunate to attend PyCascades 2020 in Portland. The speakers discussed wide-ranging topics from accessibility to CPython internals. Your inner nerd will likely be very happy at a PyCascades conference.

A couple of favorite sessions:

  • Joanne Hastie - Programming a robot arm to paint: successes & happy accidents. Joanne is a remarkable artist, who also has a day job as a mechanical engineer. She spends a few hours every morning before work learning about robots and machine learning (ML), and applying what she has learned to making her robot paint in new and interesting ways. What she has developed is a sort of collaboration with her painting robot. Her use of a generative adversarial network (GAN) to emulate Monet paintings is fascinating. In an unconference session, I learned about someone who is using GANs to create architectural designs in a similar way to how Joanne is using GANs to train her painting robot to produce different styles of painting.
  • Brandon Warren - Introduction to the Quantum Bit. Now that I am working in a space involving cryptography, I am particularly interested in quantum computers. Brandon's talk was presented in a running Jupiter notebook as he spoke. Quantum mechanics, quantum computers, Einstein, Niels Bohr, John Bell, quantum entanglement—it's hard to summarize, so we definitely suggest taking a look at Brandon's talk.

Many of the speakers have made their presentations freely available on Github (try #pycascades on Twitter) and YouTube videos will be available soon.

The conference has a strong open-source ethos, also demonstrated by the Sprints day that was devoted to open-source Python improvements. Many participants were also volunteers, whether specifically for this conference or in their own Python communities. Several members of the Portland PyCascades team have also been the key drivers behind the Write the Docs conference in Portland every year since 2013.

Python is well-known for having a community that values documentation. We at Ripple love that the open-source ethos means that if you see something that needs fixing, you can fix it. As Ripple’s engineering team works in an open-source environment at, our team is empowered to participate, collaborate and improve whenever we see a need to do so.  If you are interested in working with a collaborative team solving difficult problems, take a look at our current postings.

If you have Python meetups in your area, there's a good chance you have seen, heard or read about many of the PyCascades 2020 speakers already. We are inspired to start attending more local meetups, and can hardly wait until the next PyCascades event.