UW–Madison Center for High Throughput Computing awarded grant to develop software to process data from High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider

The Center for High Throughput Computing (CHTC) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison will receive more than $2.2 million as part of a $25 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for its part in the Institute for Research and Innovation in Software for High-Energy Physics (IRIS-HEP) project. The goal of IRIS-HEP is to develop innovative software for processing the physics data expected from the next generation of particle accelerator, the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC).

With the funds, CHTC will address challenges in integrating and deploying the physics software and its infrastructure on the hundreds of thousands of computers that comprise the HL-LHC’s global computing network. The CHTC is located within the Computer Sciences department and has been the principal institution of the Open Science Grid (OSG) project, which is a national distributed fabric of services for research computing that supports the US LHC community.

Since 2010, the LHC—located at CERN, in Geneva, Switzerland—has generated data from the interactions of colliding subatomic particles to explore fundamental questions of the physics of the Universe. Building on the work that found the Higgs boson, among many other accomplishments, the HL-LHC will increase tenfold the expected number of detected events when it begins operations in 2026.

“Even now, physicists just can’t store everything that the LHC produces,” said Bogdan Mihaila, the NSF program officer overseeing the IRIS-HEP award. “Sophisticated processing helps us decide what information to keep and analyze, but even those tools won’t be able to process all of the data we will see in 2026. We have to get smarter and step up our game. That is what the new software institute is about.”

With innovations in physics software come new challenges in integrating the software, testing, deploying the software worldwide, and supporting the integrated software systems in the field.

“Software integration is crucial in a project like this one, in which software development is distributed nationally and even internationally,” said Tim Cartwright, the OSG Chief of Staff and the principal investigator for the University of Wisconsin’s portion of the project. “The OSG Software team, which is based in CHTC, looks forward to building on its accomplishments in software integration, testing, and distribution. The CHTC will serve as the intellectual hub for IRIS-HEP software integration and deployment activities.”

“Our long-standing partnership with the HEP community has been a cornerstone of our quest to advance the state of the art of high throughput computing technologies,” said Miron Livny, John P. Morgridge Professor of Computer Science and Director of CHTC. “The IRIS-HEP project will sustain this productive relationship that has been transforming the role computing plays in an ever-growing number of disciplines.”

The IRIS-HEP project is co-funded by NSF’s Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure in the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) and the Division of Physics in the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS). Peter Elmer at Princeton University is the principal investigator. Other OSG institutions funded by the project are Indiana University, University of California San Diego, University of Chicago, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, and University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The remaining IRIS-HEP institutions are Cornell University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Santa Cruz, University of Cincinnati, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, and University of Washington. In addition to software development and integration, activities include training, education, and other forms of outreach.

Press contact: Tim Cartwright, Center for High Throughput Computing, Dept. of Computer Sciences, UW-Madison: (608) 262-4002; cat@cs.wisc.edu

Photo: As part of the accelerator complex upgrade program (HL-LHC), aiming at delivering higher luminosity, this device is going to be thoroughly tested prior to the installation in the tunnel. © 2018 CERN