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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/V052489/1
Title: Reproducible analysis frameworks in Lattice Field Theory and STFC-enabled computational research in Wales
Principal Investigator: Bennett, Dr E
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: College of Science
Organisation: Swansea University
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 April 2021 Ends: 31 March 2026 Value (£): 613,610
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Information & Knowledge Mgmt Lattice QCD
Software Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
24 Feb 2021 RSE Fellowships 2020 Panel A - Interview Announced
27 Jan 2021 RSE Fellowships 2020 Panel - Full Proposal Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Lattice Field Theory is a technique used to study many models of physics, most notable Quantum ChromoDynamics, the theory of the strong interaction which holds the nuclei of atoms together. Calculations at the very smallest scales-many thousands of times smaller than the size of an atom-can make predictions for properties of matter that can be observed at experiments such as those at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Even though (and because) the length scales considered are so small, these calculations require vast amounts of computing power, using some of the largest supercomputers in the world. This produces large amounts of data, which must be carefully analysed by researchers to extract the properties being studied and make predictions. As the size of computers and the amount of data that can be produced grows, the likelihood of making errors in this process increases. To reduce the chance of this happening, this project will develop a set of tools to automate these analyses, so that they can always run consistently, and their results can be re-run and checked by anyone. The project will work with researchers to adapt their existing software to make use of these tools, and train them to do the same themselves for new software.

The Solar System Physics group at Aberystwyth University studies our Sun and its interactions with the rest of our Solar System. This includes studying phenomena like solar storms, which have the potential to significantly disrupt electronics and telecommunications on Earth; better understanding these phenomena allows us to predict when they may occur and take steps to protect critical infrastructure. These computations make use of programs written in a computer language called IDL, which requires paying money to use, with the amount you pay determining the number of processing units you can use at once, and so how fast your computations will be performed. While this was a good choice when the programs were written, the amount of data needing to be analysed has grown to the point that waiting for IDL to run an analysis is causing a bottleneck in research. This project will support researchers at Aberystwyth in adapting the programs to instead use the commonly-used Python programming language instead. This will let them use many more processing units simultaneously, giving answers more quickly. This will also mean that other researchers who haven't paid for IDL will be able to verify the results.

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is an international collaboration to observe gravitational waves, which are ripples in spacetime itself, predicted by Einstein's theory of General Relativity. When very heavy objects in space, like black holes, collide with each other, their acceleration is strong enough to create gravitational waves that we can detect on Earth. These waves cause lengths and distances to change ever so slightly, which can be measured using devices called interferometers. In order to understand what kind of astronomical event created a gravitational wave, the readings from the interferometers must be compared with the results of simulations. At first, LIGO could only sense the largest of large events, the collisions of large black holes. Researchers are working to make LIGO more sensitive, to be able to detect collisions between smaller objects. This means that it observes a lot more gravitational waves than previously, so there is a lot more data to analyse. This project will work with the LIGO team at the Gravity Exploration Institute at Cardiff University to redevelop their software so that each analysis takes less time, which will allow LIGO to keep up with the increasing number of gravitational wave events that they observe.
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Organisation Website: http://www.swan.ac.uk