Mozilla is funding a way to support Julia in Firefox

After porting the Python interpreter to Firefox, Mozilla now wants to support both Julia and R as well.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor
Image: Mozilla

Mozilla is funding a project for bringing the Julia programming language to Firefox and the general browser environment.

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 ChuravyMITBringing Julia to the Browser
Jessica OutlawConcordia University of PortlandStudying the Unique Social and Spatial affordances of Hubs by Mozilla for Remote Participation in Live Events
Neha KumarGeorgia TechMissing Data: Health on the Internet for Internet Health
Piotr Sapiezynski, Alan Mislove, & Aleksandra KorolovaNortheastern University & University of Southern CaliforniaUnderstanding the impact of ad preference controls
Sumandro ChattapadhyayThe Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), IndiaMaking Voices Heard: Privacy, Inclusivity, and Accessibility of Voice Interfaces in India
Weihang WangState University of New YorkDesigning Access Control Interfaces for Wasmtime
Bernease HermanUniversity of WashingtonToward generalizable methods for measuring bias in crowdsourced speech datasets and validation processes
David KargerMITTipsy: A Decentralized Open Standard for a Microdonation-Supported Web
Linhai SongPennsylvania State UniversityBenchmarking Generic Functions in Rust
Leigh ClarkUniversity College DublinCreating a trustworthy model for always-listening voice interfaces
Steven WuUniversity of MinnesotaDP-Fathom: Private, Accurate, and Communication-Efficient
Nikita BorisovUniversity of Illinois, Urbana-ChampaignPerformance and Anonymity of HTTP/2 and HTTP/3 in Tor

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