Highlighting Akarsh Simha's GSoC work

Akarsh Simha is pursuing a very ambitious project for Google Summer of Code 2008: He's increasing the number of stars displayed by KStars by a factor of 10 (from 130,000 to over 1 million), without having a negative impact on the performance of the program. James Bowlin and I are his co-mentors in this project. James and Akarsh spent the pre-coding SoC period hashing out the code architecture required for this effort, which allowed Akarsh to hit the ground running when he started to code. His progress has been amazing: in the kstars/summer branch, we are already displaying over 2 million stars, and it feels just as responsive as trunk, because the new architecture is extremely efficient in memory usage.

Sound too good to be true? Check out this side-by-side comparison of 3.5 branch and trunk, where I zoom in on the Carina nebula region with both versions of the program.

We already have plans to increase the number of stars to 10 million, 100 million...maybe even 1 billion stars. However, the data for 1 billion stars is around 60 GB, so distribution is problematic.


This is really impressive work. Well done.

Matt Williams

By Matt Williams at Mon, 08/04/2008 - 15:54

Great work! Is Akarsh going to write something about the new architecture? I'm kind of curious :)

By elvstone at Mon, 08/04/2008 - 17:03

There's some stuff at his blog, but so far the best description of the new architecture that enabled 1e6 stars is in a README file written by James:

KStars: A desktop planetarium for KDE

By Jason Harris at Mon, 08/04/2008 - 17:24

Yes, I do plan to document it some time. But I can't promise when. There are already some minor details in READMEs in appropriate directories like README.fileformat in the kstars/data/ directory and James' HTM README that Jason pointed out.

By akarshsimha at Wed, 08/06/2008 - 15:45