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Level 3 Package Proposal Voting Results: distrib

The call for votes for the 'distrib' package was issued on December 1 and closed on December 17, 2012. A total of 18 votes were cast. There were no duplicates or unverified voters.

The outcome of this vote is accept.

This outcome is based on the final question of the survey, which had four mutually-exclusive choices: Accept (proposal addresses a need that SBML should cover, and the approach clearly follows the stated principles), Reject (proposal does not address a need that SBML should cover), Revise (approach either does not follow the stated principles, or there is insufficient information to tell if it does), or Abstain, (I cannot fully assess the proposal as given, or do not wish to state an opinion). The following graph presents the results for this question:


The voting for this package proposal used an updated format that requested additional information from voters. The responses for each of these additional questions are reported separately below. The comments written by respondents for the overall assessment question are provided at the end of this page.

Question about UTILITY

The question was posed as follows: Utility: the package addresses a problem whose solution SBML users are likely to find useful. It had four possible answer choices: (a) Agree, (b) Disagree, (c) Insufficient info, and (d) Abstain.

The following graph shows the overall total responses:


The following are the individual comments written by respondents. The votes in particular are indicated in parentheses before the comments.

  • (Voted 'Insufficient info'): I actually feel that what is most important to SBML users would be to store ranges with their parameters / initial values. And that ought to be even possible without the need of specifying a distribution, if the users don't know which distribution it is. Now i read on the list that ranges have been dropped altogether.

Question about BIOLOGICAL ORIENTATION

The question was posed as follows: Biological orientation: the package's overall aim is to support the description of biological processes and phenomena. It had four possible answer choices: (a) Agree, (b) Disagree, (c) Insufficient info, and (d) Abstain.

The following graph shows the overall total responses:


There were no comments left with this question.

Question about COHERENCE

The question was posed as follows: Coherence: the package extends SBML in a way that follows naturally from Level 3 Core and other packages. It had four possible answer choices: (a) Agree, (b) Disagree, (c) Insufficient info, and (d) Abstain.

The following graph shows the overall total responses:


The following are the individual comments written by respondents. The votes in particular are indicated in parentheses before the comments.

  • (Voted 'Disagree'): The use of UncertML rather than MathML as the way of describing distributions is an unnatural fit that doesn't follow Level 3 Core; I recommend not building the package so closely around UncertML.

Question about ORTHOGONALITY

The question was posed as follows: Orthogonality: within reason, the package does not duplicate the purpose or data captured by other packages. It had four possible answer choices: (a) Agree, (b) Disagree, (c) Insufficient info, and (d) Abstain.

The following graph shows the overall total responses:


The following are the individual comments written by respondents. The votes in particular are indicated in parentheses before the comments.

  • (Voted 'Disagree'): I think that there is orthogonality between this package and the rest of SBML, but within this package itself there are too many different ways to express the same thing due to supporting both UncertML and 'explicit' specification of distribution.
  • (Voted 'Abstain'): The intro above says that the array package will be required. Is this also true if only simple functionality of the distrib package is used?

Question about overall assessment

In addition to asking for an overall assessment (the response to which is the first result on this page), the survey also provided space for respondents to include comments with their overall assessment. The following are the explanations that people provided, together with the way they voted on the overall assessment question.

  • (Voted 'Revise'): See my answers above. The package specification itself needs further work; for example, it repeatedly refers to 'SMBL', and doesn't provide enough information on explicit distribution specifications to tell if it is specifying probability density functions, probability mass functions, cumulative density functions, or some other specification of the distribution. I also don't think there is adequate justification for the 'ranges' / statistics part of the specification. Statistics and ranges are not particularly useful on their own because they are problematic to interpret without any further information, and someone wanting to specify a range might actually intend to specify a uniform probability distribution over a given range, something they could do even without any explicit support for ranges. I therefore suggest that the scope of this package be revised to only include distributions and to exclude statistics and ranges.
  • (Voted 'Revise'): see above (utility). While drawing numbers from distributions is useful, being able to describe ranges would be even more useful to our users. Much more so than drawing from multivariate distributions, that would also require package development to await what happens in the Array package.


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