The SPRACE Project

 

High Energy Physics (HEP) investigates the elementary constituents of matter and the fundamental interactions. Particle accelerators, like the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, are among the most complex and sophisticated scientific instruments ever built and have been playing an essential role on these investigations.

The São Paulo Research and Analysis Center (SPRACE) was deployed in 2003, with financial support from FAPESP, to provide the necessary means for the participation of High Energy Physics researchers from the State of São Paulo in HEP experiments. In March 2004, in association with the Distributed Organization for Scientific Analysis and Research (DOSAR), the SPRACE computing cluster started to process data of the DZero experiment from the Tevatron collider at Fermilab. Soon after it was integrated into the SAMGrid, the distributed processing system of the experiment.

In 2005, SPRACE became part of the Open Science Grid (OSG), a consortium of universities, national laboratories and computing centers, which share a grid infrastructure over research networks via a common middleware. By means of the OSG partnership, SPRACE participated in the Monte Carlo generation and data reprocessing of the DZero experiment. At the same time, the SPRACE team started to work together with the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) collaboration of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) at Geneva, Switzerland.

Nowadays SPRACE works exclusively with the CMS collaboration and operarate the BR-SP-SPRACE, a Tier-2 cluster of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG), which includes more than 170 computing centers in 42 countries that operates as a single grid infrastructure. The SPRACE cluster provides 15,000 HEP-SPEC06 of processing power and 1.3 PB of storage and contributes to the processing, storage and analysis of data produced by the CMS experiment.

Our research team is dedicated to the search of new physics beyond the standard model, including the search for dark matter and for heavy resonances decaying into dibosons. SPRACE is also associated to the Heavy Ions group at CERN, which explores properties of the quark-gluon plasma (QGP), a state of matter present at the birth of the universe.

In the field of scientific instrumentation, our group is developing part of an electronic hardware for the phase 2 upgrade of the CMS Level 1 trigger of the tracker detector, in close collaboration with Fermilab, University of Pisa, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, University of Lyon, North-West University, among others.

SPRACE leverages competences in different research areas by sharing some of the expertise generated by High Energy Physics like high-speed networks, high performance computing, and grid architecture.

In 2016, at the SuperComputing Conference (SC16), SPRACE, in collaboration with the Academic Network of São Paulo (ANSP), Americas Pathways (AmPATH) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), set a new data transmission record between the Northern-Southern hemispheres by using new international 100Gbps links. Data transfer reached 97,56 Gbps and averaged 96,56Gbps during an hour of transmission. Thanks to SPRACE the São Paulo State University (Unesp) is currently the only academic institution in Latin America capable of transferring data at 100 Gbps to the United States. This was the third time the SPRACE team set this record: in 2004 transmissions reached 1 Gbps and, in 2009, 16,5 Gbps.   

SPRACE also conceived the GridUnesp Project, which was deployed in 2009 as the first “Campus Grid” in Latin America. It is composed of eight data processing and storage centers distributed over the State of São Paulo, which are interconnected through the grid architecture. Today, GridUnesp provides scientific computing to 70 projects and has almost 400 users.

 

Outreach activities

SPRACE has a strong commitment to teaching and outreach activities. We elaborated a set of courses in High Energy Physics and related subjects which is available online and allows students to use its content in e-learning. Our outreach project “The Elementary Structure of Matter: A Poster in Each School” distributed a poster explaining the essential concepts of HEP to all high schools in Brazil. This project provides a site and a discussion forum on the web to answer questions of teachers and students. SPRACE also developed a game – the SPRACE Game – that aims to teach players the main Particle Physics concepts, such as quarks, leptons, and strong, weak and electromagnetic interactions, which are not contemplated by most of the high school curricula in our country.

Since 2008, SPRACE organizes the Masterclass: hands on Particle Physics event every year. It brings high school students and teachers to our center, where they take part in numerous activities, which include lectures and analysis of real experimental data produced by the LHC. The results of the exercises are discussed through videoconference with other institutions around the world and is usually coordinated by moderators at CERN. We intend to show students (and teachers) that physics is much more than formulas and equations – it is a fascinating subject that studies some of the biggest mysteries of the universe.

The SPRACE Project is supported by
Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo