From Juelich to Nicosia with Love
As Ambra covered most of the technicalities of what we are working on here in Cyprus in her wonderful blog on lattice QCD and supercomputers. I will talk more about our experiences so far in Jülich, Germany where we had our training week and Nicosia, Cyprus where we are currently staying. I thought for a while how best to describe the training week and I honestly don’t think I could do the experience justice. One would think averaging 6 hours sleep a night followed by 10 hour days where we learned about a different aspects of HPC would be a nightmare but it was genuinely an awesome week. Beginning with a Sunday night interrupted by two separate fire alarms in the Forschungszentrum guest house we spent our Monday being introduced to each other and learning about PRACE, the Summer of HPC program and touring the super computing facilities at the Forschungszentrum. Tuesday to Friday was dedicated to sampling different aspects of HPC which included MPI, OpenMP, Visualisation, Go-Karting and CUDA. Ok Go-Karting is not part of HPC but we did go on Thursday and it was pretty awesome. Unfortunately the day was marred by some controversy whereby a nameless PRACE employee intentionally threw the qualifiers to gain a faster team mate for the relay race. He won his trophy in the end but one disgruntled intern described it as a ‘trophy of lies’. In the future the people at the Forschungszentrum should definitely look into to including Go-Karting on all their HPC courses and also a possible lifetime ban for said nameless employee.
Other highlights were watching the EURO 2016 games in the local Irish bar (which I learned were in every European city apparently) and the different themed dinner parties held in the garden of the guest house. The guys at Jülich who organised all this really deserve a big shout out for all they did, although I am not sure how much longer I would have lasted on a diet of gummi bears, sparkling water and pork. Our flights out were booked for 2:45 am on Friday Night , which is what we get for leaving it to a travel agent I guess, so the final nights revelries definitely took its toll on our 13 hours of travel to Larnaca Airport. I should thank and apologise to Ambra for putting up with what was probably the worst travel partner imaginable, I will rate sobering up in an airport at 6 am 0/5 stars and would not recommend.
We were picked up in Nicosia by our adviser Giannis on Saturday who kindly brought us to the Cyprus Institute first so we could learn all about our projects and have work for the weekend if we wanted, I had not slept for 30 hours at this point so I was overjoyed at his enthusiasm. Following our ‘brief’ introduction we did some grocery shopping before being brought to our dorms where I proceeded to sleep for 14 hours. The following Sunday was spent touring the city of Nicosia and the surrounding area with our site coordinator Stelios who made an awesome guide albeit a slightly less than awesome driver. I should say now that everyone in Cyprus drives in a similar fashion whereby orange lights seem to be more of a challenge then a warning and red lights are a matter of opinion.
Our first week in the institute was spent primarily acclimatising to the heat, on Monday we decided it would make sense to walk in the morning as it was only 25 minutes away. This was a mistake and upon arrival we felt like we had just trekked across a desert. Entering our shared office we were then greeted by sub-zero temperatures as people in Cyprus know how to use air conditioning. Some of this may be slight hyperbole as my memory of that day is quite foggy. The rest of the week we took the bus and began learning about lattice QCD, in my case I focused on learning how to start with a theory defined on Minkowski Spacetime and bring it to a theory defined on a discrete Euclidean Spacetime (the lattice in lattice QCD). I will go into more detail about this and what people are interested in calculating on the lattice in my next blog (when I learn myself). Along side learning the theory I did some basic analysis on some lattice data which was previously analysed so I could compare results and ensure I had the right idea. On Friday night we went for a meal and drinks with the lattice crew and some others from the University of Cyprus nearby and we got to know everyone a bit better.
The following week was spent in a similar fashion to the first, learning the theory and doing some more advanced analysis. I am not sure if they know exactly what they want me to do yet but so long as I am learning I am happy. Next week there will be big lattice QCD conference on in Southampton, England and most of the lattice people from the Institute will be attending. Ambra and I are planning a 1 week trip to Ayia Napa to make the most of the temporary lack of supervision. So I guess that sums up my experiences so far on the Summer of HPC, there are many things I have left out like falling off my bike in the most idiotic way possible on the second day in Julich and of course all the interesting and funny people I have met. But I will leave you now with some pictures I have taken so far in Cyprus.