Welcome to my first blog post,
(Apologies as this is quite late in being posted, as I’ve had a few hectic weeks, with moving accommodation, getting started on the project and just adjusting to living here.)
Enough excuses, back to the blog post.
Well, my name is Conor O’Mara and I am 22 years old (this is giving me secondary school French oral flashbacks ahhhh!). I am from Dublin, Ireland and have just finished a Bachelors in Theoretical Physics at Trinity College Dublin. I have been lucky enough to receive the privilege of being awarded a place on the PRACE Summer of HPC programme where I will be based at the University of Edinburgh’s Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC).
During my final year thesis I was given some exposure to High Performance Computing (HPC), where I used Trinity’s Kelvin cluster (named after Lord Kelvin, the Scot-Irish scientist who has the absolute temperature scale named in his honour – The Kelvin scale) to perform some calculations. These calculations were in the field of Quantum Many Body theory which I undertook with the supervision of Professor Charles Patterson. While I was doing my final year project, another final year student called Dovydas Mickus, who also had the same supervisor as myself was working on a project that focused on parallelising some of the code for calculations in order to increase the efficiency and speed of these calculations in the allocated node time. As we met as a group to discuss our projects with our supervisor, this was my first exposure to the idea of parallelising calculations across many nodes (ie. sharing the job by splitting it up into many pieces) to speed up the calculation. So I have both of those guys to thank for my introduction to HPC and parallel computing.
Here is a picture of (L-R) myself, Dovydas Mickus and Prof. Charles Patterson.
In Edinburgh, I will be working on a project which simulates and tests different job scheduling algorithms for how a HPC allocates nodes. The project will encompass some software engineering, testing and some work with algorithms. It is quite a computer science heavy project, which is a little daunting for me and my physics background. However, I am looking forward to the challenge as I view it as a good opportunity to develop my skills and further my knowledge in this field.
Other aims of this blog post are to communicate my experience during my time here and also advertise this program so that hopefully more people from Ireland will apply to the PRACE Summer of HPC programme. There are 23 people from across Europe who have been accepted to work across difference locations in Europe. 3 of us are based here in Edinburgh, while different people are in places ranging from Nicosia, Bologna and Barcelona. PRACE fully supports us with a stipend for accommodation, academic supervisors to help us with project and living expenses. So far, I would highly recommend you apply if you are from a Physics, Chemistry, Maths or Computer Science background.
The program began on the first week of July where everyone on the program met in Edinburgh for a training week. The week itself was great, the standard of teaching in the university was very good and I got an nice overview of HPC that knitted in well with my current knowledge as well as covering lots of new material I had never seen before (perhaps I will discuss about a subject or two in a future blog post). But the emphasis was shared between social elements too and we ate out together most nights, visited most of the main tourist attractions and most importantly had a laugh the whole time which is the type of laid back environment I like to work in.
Here are some photos from the first week featuring an aesthetic African restaurant (thanks to Chef Mo for having us), a Rick & Morty themed bar, Edinburgh castle, the group on top of Arthur’s seat and some other gems.
I’ll leave you until next time with a quote from the famous Edinburgh writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which will stand as a reminder for me to blog more.
“A trusty comrade is always of use; and a chronicler still more so.”