Summer Students 2008
I spent my three weeks at the IPPP with the institutes IT staff. My first task was to overhaul the website of the Durham Centre for Particle Theory (CPT) of which the IPPP is a part of. The original website was somewhat out of date and its appearance was not consistent with websites of the IPPP and university as a whole. I selectively transferred and updated the relevant information from the old website into a new site with an appearance based on the current IPPP and university websites. Upon completing the new website, while my knowledge of the web development tools I used was still fresh, I created a guide on the IPPP's Intranet to demonstrate to staff how the website could be edited in an attempt to promote more staff participation in its maintenance.
The institute was looking to replace some of their older desktop computers which had been in need of updating for some time. In order to identify those computers most in need of updating and to confirm that the best computers were running desirably, I spent the remainder of my time at the institute developing a benchmarking program. The program I developed was based around measuring the performance of SHERPA Event Generator, a piece of particle physics simulation software partly developed at the IPPP. The IT department was interested in the performance gained when SHERPA was ran on multi-core processors and whether they should update the ageing desktop computers with multi-core machines. My program automatically ran a SHERPA simulation both with and without multi-core optimisation on every desktop computer in the institute and plotted its results for analysis (pictured below). The results of study showed that significant performance gains could be sought in running simulation software on multi-core processors and successfully identified the computers most in need of update. The IT department is now in a position to use the part of their budget assigned to hardware update as effectively as possible.
In addition to running my program on the institutes's desktop computers, my program also performed its tests on computers at HEP institutions (GridPP) throughout the country to gather information to help the IPPP keep its batch processing computers up to date.
Throughout my time at the IPPP I have been constantly learning and picking up new skills. I have improved my web development and programming skills and have learnt a huge amount about UNIX based computing and particle physics in general. Altogether my time at the IPPP has been thoroughly rewarding and enjoyable and has given me experience which will no doubt continue to help me throughout my academic life.