CERN*'s Director General, Dr Robert Aymar, today formally recognized the UK's exceptional contribution to developing the next generation of computing by presenting awards for outstanding achievement to two British researchers who have been at the forefront of Grid computing at CERN. Dr Aymar also took the opportunity to praise the UK's e-Science programme as a whole, for its pioneering efforts to establish and promote Grid technology at the national level in Europe, efforts which have been a considerable inspiration to other European countries and to the EU.
Dr Aymar presented a CERN-UK award for outstanding achievement in Grid development, to Dr Andrew McNab of the University of Manchester. Dr Aymar cited Dr McNab's key contributions to developing a robust security model for the Large Hadron Collider Computing Grid, which is of critical importance for ensuring that the huge amounts of data produced by CERN's next particle accelerator will be securely stored and easily accessible for analysis.
Dr Aymar also awarded Dr Frank Harris with a CERN-UK lifetime achievement award. Dr Harris is a senior member of the research staff in Particle Physics at Oxford University, and has been based at CERN for fifteen years. Dr Aymar praised the great contribution Dr Harris has made to the progress of online computing throughout his time at CERN, from the earliest days of the World Wide Web to his later role in the birth of the particle physics Grid.
CERN is currently constructing a computing Grid, to deal with the huge amounts of data that will be produced by its next particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). When the LHC starts operation in 2007, the equivalent of some 15 Petabytes of data will need to be stored every year – enough to fill a stack of CDs twice the height of Mt Everest. Processing power equivalent to some 100,000 of today's high performance PCs will be required in order to sift through the data, looking for new particles that can provide clues to the origins of our Universe.
The prototype LHC Computing Grid (LCG) began routine operation in September 2003, and today has some 40 sites worldwide contributing substantial computing resources. This Grid infrastructure is being used to successfully process particle physics data, demonstrating the viability of a global computing Grid for tackling the enormous data storage and analysis requirements of the LHC.
The award presentations took place at a meeting of GridPP**, a collaboration of Particle Physicists and Computing Scientists from the UK and CERN, which was held this week at CERN in Geneva. GridPP has played a vital role in launching the LCG project, and contributed a major share of the external support to the project. The UK's contribution represents nearly 40% of all dedicated national resources allocated to the project in its first three-year phase. "GridPP's contribution has made a critical difference, and the UK's commitment to LCG, above and beyond the call of duty, emphasizes the proactive role that the UK has taken in European science in recent years." said Dr Aymar. "The foresight of persons such as Prof. Ian Halliday, Chief Executive of PPARC***, has enabled the UK to take a leading role in this new field of computing applications, as exemplified by the outstanding achievements of Andrew and Frank".
"Without doubt, contributing to the LCG project has been mutually beneficial for CERN and the UK", added Prof. Tony Doyle of the University of Glasgow, who is GridPP's Project Leader. "The LCG project is the most challenging and urgent Grid project in science today and the opportunity for many of our best and brightest young scientists and engineers to contribute has been a great educational experience." He added that the spin-off of this activity for British industry was anticipated to be significant, as illustrated by the attendance of many leading UK high-tech companies at a special event on the industrial impact of IT technology from CERN, held last week in London and Geneva. This event is being followed by a DTI industry mission in June, enabling UK companies to explore technical advances being made in IT at CERN.
The UK's £250m e-Science programme, of which GridPP is one facet, has been an inspiration to others in Europe. With EU support, the national Grid programmes across Europe are now joining forces to establish a truly European Grid, as part of the 32m€ EGEE project (Enabling Grids for E-Science in Europe), launched two months ago. UK scientists are in the vanguard of the project, with ten UK sites already running the middleware that will be used to build the EGEE Grid.
CERN, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is where Sir Tim Berners-Lee developed his idea of the World Wide Web nearly 15 years ago. For many, the Grid represents the most significant development of the Internet since the Web. If so, Britain and Europe will be well-placed to exploit this new technology, thanks to their major role in the pioneering work at CERN.
Dr Andrew McNab – CERN-UK Award for Outstanding Achievement in Grid development
Dr Andrew McNab is a researcher in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester. For the past three years he has been funded by GridPP to work on Grid security. His work is widely recognised as outstanding, both in performance and impact. As well as being an exceptional software designer, Andrew plays a leading role in a number of international Grid bodies. In addition, he wrote the tool "Gridsite", which allows users to identify themselves to websites using a Grid security certificate. In this way, people can be granted rights to edit and upload webpages. Gridsite is now used by a number of websites, including Grid Ireland and the UK Grid Operations Centre. Andrew has built an impressive list of solutions for grid security problems, and continues to work on standards and innovative designs. His clear-headed approach to Grid security issues is a source of strength to the Grid development programme at CERN and the UK.
Dr Frank Harris – CERN-UK Lifetime Achievement Award
Dr Frank Harris is a well-known and respected contributor to particle physics computing both at CERN and in his home Department at Oxford University. He was involved with CERN's DELPHI experiment from its very beginning in the early eighties until the end of running in 2000. As leader of the DELPHI online software project, he was instrumental in steering the online group through to successful, stable running of the system. His work is a catalogue of CERN computing, from an early publication co-authored with Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, through to major roles in the Hoffmann Review of LHC computing, the LCG project, the LHCb experiment and the EU-Datagrid project. For the latter, Frank provided the experiments' requirements to the middleware developers and presented them in a way that both sides could understand, take on board and address. He was also a founder member of the Grid group in the physics department at Oxford.
CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world's largest particle physics research centre near Geneva, Switzerland. Technological development at CERN has given the world advances varying from contributions to medical imaging to the World Wide Web. Founded in 1954, the laboratory was one of Europe's first joint ventures and has become a shining example of international collaboration. From the original 12 signatories of the CERN convention, membership has grown to the present 20 member states.
GridPP is a six year, £33m project with additional associated funding from PPARC, HEFCE, SHEFC and The European Union. A collaboration of twenty UK Universities and research institutes and CERN, it will provide the UK's contribution to the Large Hadron Collider Computing Grid. GridPP has been running a UK Grid testbed for more than a year, and will develop this over the next three years to provide the equivalent of 10,000 desktop computers available for e-Science.
PPARC is government funded and provides research grants and studentships to scientists in British universities, gives researchers access to world-class facilities and funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), and the European Space Agency. It also contributes money for the UK telescopes overseas on La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility, which includes the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank observatory.
PPARC's Public Understanding of Science and Technology Awards Scheme funds both small local projects and national initiatives aimed at improving public understanding of its areas of science.
CERN: François Grey, IT Communications Team, IT Department, +41-22-767-1483
PPARC : Julia Maddock PPARC Press Officer +44 1793 442094
GridPP: Dr. Sarah Pearce GridPP Dissemination Officer +44 (0)7870 404439