The point at which all of Science meets.

The point at which all of Science meets.

An Introduction to me!

Despite being away from huge computing centers, it’s still me!

Greetings everyone!

 My name is George Katsikas, I am 21 years old and I come from Greece. I am a Physics undergraduate studying at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, currently in my final year of studies. 

Ever since I was a child, I was always fascinated by all things science and I liked to apply the scientific method before I knew what that phrase even meant. Setting up little experiments and observing the behavior of systems as well as solving riddles and mathematical puzzles was a favorite pastime. In trying to understand the world around me (and due to my brothers’ contributions) I stumbled upon the land of programming at an early age too. I remember being amazed at the realization I could use this tool to create anything I wanted and although my creativity was limited, I would consistently engage in developing personal pet projects. 

This is Tasq, a simple iOS puzzle game of mine.

The natural next step for me, of course, would be to pursue education combining both natural as well as computer science. Being a jack of all trades as I am, I enrolled in a Physics study programme and continued to work on my projects. This parallel skill acquisition eventually also lead to an internship at my university’s IT center where I have contributed over the past one and a half years in creating UniverSIS, an open source SIS. Recently, my interest shifted towards machine learning and as a culmination of my studies, I decided to explore its application in a physics-oriented problem, that of material discovery.

Excerpt of my thesis, using Machine Learning to investigate magnetization in crystals.

Discovering PRACE

This exploration into the field of computational physics inevitably lead me to PRACE and the Summer of HPC. Despite the recent pandemic, we were fortunate enough that SoHPC was one of the few schools which could continue their operation. Indeed, I was thrilled to be selected in Project #02: Neural Networks in Quantum Chemistry, and since most of my projects have been small-scale, I view SoHPC as a grand opportunity to learn all about performant low level computing, parallelization and graphics acceleration. 

Right now, we find ourselves a few days after the training “week” ended. It was a very eventful 4-day period full of attending training sessions, competing in quizzes, chatting with colleagues, solving exercises collaboratively and even exercising together. I have personally never attended anything as well timely organized and as educational as this and thus it was a riveting experience. I can’t help but wonder how much more enjoyable everything would be were we to meet in person. During the training sessions I constantly wandered off thinking about possible optimizations I could use to my already existing programs; it had such a profound impact on me. Therefore, I would encourage anyone with even the slightest interest in programming to explore the world of HPC, especially through SoHPC.

This is how a Physics undergraduate, uses applied Computer Science, modeling the Biological structure of the neuron to investigate quantum Chemistry, effectively creating an apex where “all of science meets”.

I promise to keep you updated on my experience through this wonderful journey and I will be sure to share all the exciting things there are to see therein.

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