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Thursday, 20 Jul 2017


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Summary: The Cyprus Institute is preparing to build a Computation-based Science and Technology Research Centre (CaSToRC) that will include a high-performance computing (HPC) facility whose scale is expected to be in the tens of teraflops. The CaSToRC will be a regional HPC centre of significant size designed primarily to serve the needs of Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean region, with an associated research and educational centre devoted to supercomputing applications in science and technology. This Support Action aims to ensure that in its planning and early development phases the CaSToRC develops strong anchors in both the European ICT infrastructure and the Eastern Mediterranean scientific community, thereby helping to build scientific and technological bridges between Europe and the Middle East and to narrow the digital gap between the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western World.
Planned actions include the assessment of needs for computational resources within the scientific community of Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean, the coordination of HPC resources in the region, the planning of the access of users to facilities both in the region and EU-wide, a prospective study of the amelioration of the network connectivity in the region, the development of research and educational programmes in computational science, and dissemination and outreach, through the organisation of an International Conference, of several users workshops and various other actions.
Objectives: The objectives of the Support Action are the following:
  1. The integration of the Cyprus Institute CaSToRC into the European high-performance computing and computational science environment
  2. The organization of remote and trans-national access by virtual communities of users from the Eastern Mediterranean region
  3. The execution of a feasibility study for the creation of a regional research network interconnecting the Eastern Mediterranean countries with each other and with Cyprus
  4. Outreach activities, in order to ensure the dissemination of the outcome of studies and actions included in the LinkSCEEM project among decision makers and the research and educational communities
Action Plan: Several lines of activity will be developed to achieve the objectives described above, with different partners taking the lead in each:
  1. Assessing the needs of the region (lead: IUCC, Israel). While it is known that the Eastern Mediterranean is relatively poor in computational capacity it is not clear at this point what the real needs of the region are. This activity will focus on two areas. First, to identify scientists in the area who would be able to bolster their research if they had easy access to a high-performance computing center and to knowledgeable staff able to guide them in its use. Second, to make an inventory of the computer facilities in the region and of their pattern of usage, to avoid duplication of effort as well as the setup of an infrastructure that would not meet regional needs. A constant dialogue with scientists in the area, starting with a Users’ Meeting at the very start of the project, will be the cornerstone of this activity.
  2. Coordination of resources and access of users (lead: SARA, Netherlands). There are also two facets to this activity. First, the HPC facility in Cyprus will be optimally integrated into existing European initiatives, in particular PRACE, the EU-wide consortium for very large scale computing, EGEE II, the European Grid infrastructure, and GEANT, the research and education network. This will be achieved in coordination with these organizations and their existing representatives in Cyprus. Second, it will ensure that users are able to connect to the center, to transfer their data there, and to receive proper training in how to use the facility. A peer-reviewed project management system also will be put into place.
3. Computation-based science education and research prospective (lead: NCSA, USA). The main thrust of this activity will be to establish a detailed research and educational agenda for the CaSToRC itself, on the model of the Institute for Advanced Computing Applications and Technologies at the University of Illinois. The educational agenda will be tailored to also meet regional weaknesses in the training of scientists able to maximally leverage computer technology in their research.
4. Regional research networking (lead: GRNET, Greece). The interconnection of computer networks in the region is currently weak and inefficient. A technical study will be conducted to explore optimal ways, from a technical and economical perspective, to establish high-bandwidth and direct links between all countries in the area. This will be accomplished in close collaboration with the Pan-Arab Network, which is planning to encompass all of the Middle East and North Africa.
5. International conference (lead: CSCS, Switzerland). At the end of the project, an international conference will be organized in Cyprus, grouping both world-wide experts in HPC and the community of users from the region. Its aims will be to highlight the achievements of the project, to favor interactions between regional and global actors in the field, and to highlight to civil society the benefits of computational approaches to science.
6. Outreach activities (lead: Cyprus Institute, Cyprus). In addition to the initial users’ meeting and the concluding International Conference, a series of about 12 small workshops will be held in countries of the region (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and Turkey if possible), in close collaboration with local Users Contact Groups. The primary goal of these workshops is to develop and cement user communities in the region. It will also strive to develop synergies with other EU-sponsored initiatives with similar regional or technological focus.
User communities: One of the primary goals of the project is to favor the emergence of a regional user community in computation-based science and technology. The EU-funded Eumedconnect and Eumedgrid projects have paved the way for this, and LinkSCEEM will aim to strengthen and enlarge the community fostered by these two interlinked projects.
International aspects: The LinkSCEEM project is an instrument of the EU’s neighborhood policy, which aims to strengthen the ties between the Union and its immediate neighbors to the East and to the South. Cyprus, as both the Eastern- and Southern-most member of the Union, is aiming to play a key role in this policy. The project will bring together scientists from some of the most technologically advanced countries in the Union and those from relatively disadvantaged neighbors in the Middle East, and rally them around a common interest in the application of computer technology for the advancement of scientific research.