News in brief - March & April 2018
02 May 2018



The European Open Science Cloud, e-Infrastucture, workshops and awards feature in this latest news round-up.




STFC e-Infrastructure

BEIS has recently approved £16M funding over 4 years against the recently submitted business case for 'e-Infrastructure for the exploitation of the UK National Facilities and STFC Frontier Science'.  A UK Tier Zero (UKT0) workshop was held in March to discuss the progress and future direction of the project.

Juan.jpgHorizon 2020 Expert Advisory Group on European Research Infrastructures and e-Infrastructures.   

SCD's Juan Bicarregui has been invited to continue as a member of this group, which advises the EC on its Research Infrastructures programme. Juan is leading a subgroup looking into new models for supporting transnational access to facilities.

European Open Science Cloud

The European Open Science Cloud pilot project, coordinated by Juan Bicarregui, had an 'All Hands' meeting in Pisa, Italy, on 8-9 March, which was attended by over 100 participants from more than 50 organisations. The project also had its formal Mid-Term Review on 12 March. This went well and a favourable report is expected soon.

NLAFET in Japan

Iain Duff and Florent Lopez from the Computational Mathematics Group attended the SIAM Conference on Parallel Processing for fuji.2.jpgComputational Science meeting in Tokyo from 7 - 10 March. 

Iain co-organized two mini-symposia describing work in the H2020 FET-HPC Project NLAFET (Parallel Numerical Linear Algebra for​Future Extreme Scale Systems).  One concerned the solution of systems with dense matrices and included talks by our partners from University of Manchester and from Umea University in Sweden.  The other was on sparse systems where Iain gave an overview talk on this part of the NLAFET Project and Florent spoke in detail about the solution of sparse symmetric indefinite systems showing how to ensure numerical robustness while still maintaining good parallelism. 

They did manage to get a little time to enjoy some of the countryside, though. Iain said, “ On a very clear day, Mount Fuji can be seen from some of the highest buildings in Tokyo but you have to venture out an hour or two to get views like this one." 

Software Sustainability Institute Collaboration Workshop 2018

Joseph Parker  from the STFC Scientific Computing Department (SCD) and project lead for Collaborative Computational Project (CCP) Plasma,  represented CoSeC at the workshop, which was held at the University of Cardiff  at the end of March. He gave a light​ning talk about CoSeC and the work he does for CCP-Plasma, as well as taking part in a panel discussion on 'Sustainable Software Practice'. (Joseph is on the far right in the photo below.)

J​oseph said,  "It was interesting to engage with new communities as people from a varierty of academic backgrounds, not just the more traditional computing subjects, were present."

This workshop, or 'un-conference' as the organisers called it, involved a lot of participation from the attendees. There were speed-blogging sessions on various topics, discussion sessions and hands-on demonstrations of software. On the penultimate evening a number of projects were agreed for a 'hack day' and,  over the next 18 hours, small hack day groups worked collaboratively on coding projects and documentation hacks, finishing with presentations to a judging panel. ​

Joseph's group had a 'Citation File Format' project.  "We discussed the best way for software to be cited, what files should be distributed with software to make this possible, and developed some tools to make it easy for researchers create and share citation files​," he said.

SCD's Catherine Jones was one of the five hackday judges (alongside Raquel Alegre (UCL) Nikoleta Glynatsi (Cardiff Univers​ity)  Raniere Silva and Steve Crouch (both from SSI).   The groups and ideas were judged on novelty, usefulness, transparency of working and ultimately how successful they had been. 

"All in all, a very hectic, worthwhile, enjoyable and successful workshop bringing people together to share knowledge,  problems and ideas," said Joseph.

Research visit

During March, the Computational Mathematics Group hosted a research visit by Dr Alison Ramage of the University of Strathclyde.  They exchanged knowledge and discussed her interest in the application of linear algebra to modern challenges in data analysis. Dr Ramage is currently involved in a project to develop multilevel preconditioning for data assimilation problems in numerical weather forecasting, which she plans to extend to other modern sensor networks in applications such as Future Cities.

Proof of Concept AwardPixabay_acarbose_diabetic_drug-867864_1920.png

Chris Morris from the Biology and Life Sciences group has been given a small award to study the drug discovery market and identify areas where an STFC developed drug quality predictor AI has commercial opportunities. The study will focus on defining the route to market for a software solution that uses the previous performance of drug compounds (failed and successful) to predict the performance of new compounds. It is intended as an early stage decision support system for drug development companies.

Travel grant for collaboration in China

Jianping Meng from the Computational Engineering Group (CEG) has been awarded a small open fund grant from the State Key Laboratory of Hydraulics and Mountain River Engineering (SKHL), Sichuan University, China. The study will be focused on simulating solid-fluid two phase flows by coupling the lattice Boltzmann method and the discrete element method. The two-year project, which runs from 2018 – 2020, will facilitate the ongoing collaboration between CEG and SKHL by supporting research visits and conference attendance. ​

​Conferences and workshops

Jennifer Scott and Tyrone Rees (Computational Mathematics Group) were invited speakers at a workshop entitled 'New Directions in Applied Linear Algebra, Numerical Methods for PDEs and Applications' at the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences in Edinburgh, from 9-11 April.

In April, Chief Data Scientist Tony Hey gave keynote speeches at two events: a workshop for High-Performance Systems and Analytics for Big Data (HPSA) in the USA; and High Per, the International Spring School on High Performance Computing in Spain.

On 19 April,  Ilian Todorov participated in an event in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 'Shaping Europe's Digital Future'. He was invited to speak by the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission.

Contact: O'Sullivan, Marion (STFC,RAL,SC)