Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Grid Computing at ASP (and a few personal reflections)

After a little over a week in Rwanda at the African School of Physics, I have returned to the United States and working on adjusting back to my home country.  I enjoy being home, but I do miss Rwanda.  The country was much more beautiful than I expected.  The people are so warm and friendly.  This national beauty was only bolstered by the friendly nature of the students and faculty.  Thank you so much to all the students, faculty, organizers, and anyone else who made my trip to Rwanda so enjoyable. 

I am a member of the operations team for the Open Science Grid and I currently work at Indiana University. I arrived as a part of a teaching team from the Distributed Organization for Scientific and Academic Research (DOSAR).

My portion of the school was built to show and teach students the concepts of grid computing.  My colleagues and I showed examples of different types of academic/research computing and how each one fits a different task.  We displayed results and statistics of actual analysis that had been done on the Open Science Grid. The Open Science Grid uses high-throughput computing to give researcher access to a massive amount of computing power that is distributed all over the world.  

Students were led through a variety of exercises that showed basic concepts of Distributed High-Throughput Computing (DHTC), such as sustained computation, reliability, and workflow management.  While many of these concepts were new to most students, it was encouraging to see them pick up on the concepts and begin to understand how these computing resources could be used to further their own research.

The final example that we had the students work through was to use a program called Root to do an analysis of actual data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is located at CERN in Switzerland.  The exercise showed just a small part of the massive workflow that the ATLAS experiment uses to analyze their LHC dataset, but students were very excited to see the results on their computers.

Overall, I think it was a good experience for the students and I know it was a wonderful experience for me.  I got to meet so many wonderful and bright students and hopefully I gave them some inspiration to think about how computing can help their research.  My colleagues and I at DOSAR are very excited to help any students that contact us.

I cannot thank the staff and students enough for such a wonderful time that I experienced in the beautiful country of Rwanda.  Thank you all again for having me, and I am already counting the days until the next edition of the African School of Physics.

-Kyle

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