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NeSI consultancies - evolving a Scientific Programming Service

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posted on 26.02.2021, 00:04 by Wolfgang Hayek, Chris ScottChris Scott, Alexander Pletzer, Maxime RioMaxime Rio
ABSTRACT / INTRODUCTION
High Performance Computing (HPC) is an essential tool for modern research, underpinning a growing diversity of disciplines with simulations, data processing, and data analysis. Despite ongoing efforts to provide powerful and easy-to-use software packages and user interfaces, HPC and its efficient utilisation remains a fundamental challenge, often requiring specialist knowledge and expert assistance to enable ambitious research projects to achieve their goals. From experience, even small programming tweaks in research codes have resulted in performance improvements of many factors.

The NeSI consultancy service was created to address these issues and has delivered more than 6000 hours of scientific programming support to over 70 research projects during the last 3 years alone. It has been continuously refined to make it as easy and accessible as possible for the users, and it needs to keep evolving to accommodate the latest developments in technology, emerging user needs, and reach fields of science that have not used HPC before.

This presentation provides an overview of the types of projects and scientific disciplines that have used the service so far, highlights its recent expansion into data-driven work, and explores challenges that may transform the service in the future, to ensure that it continues to provide useful support and reaches as many researchers across New Zealand as possible

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wolfgang Hayek is a research software engineer at NeSI and NIWA, and group manager of NIWA’s scientific programming group. Wolfgang has expertise in radiative transfer modelling, visualisation, data analysis, and high performance computing.

Chris Scott is a research software engineer for NeSI at University of Auckland. Currently lead of the computational science team, Chris has a background in molecular dynamics, Monte Carlo methods, finite element analysis, visualisation and parallel computing.

Alex Pletzer is a research software engineer for NeSI at NIWA. Originally a physicist, Alex drifted towards high performance computing during a career that spans research in plasma physics, working for a private company in Colorado, and supporting users at university in Pennsylvania.

Maxime Rio is a data scientist at NeSI and NIWA. He enjoys helping researchers to analyse their data, from visualisation to probabilistic modelling.

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