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Principal Investigators (PIs) in the fields of Humanities and Social Sciences at Canadian academic institutions who require access to High Performance Computing (HPC) resources on Compute Canada systems are hereby invited to submit proposals requesting allocations of CPU time and storage to the Compute Canada National Resource Allocation Committee (NRAC). Please note that Compute Canada does not charge any access fee for use of the resources nor is there a fee for user support. These resources may be accessed independent of the location of the equipment or the researcher thanks to CANARIE’s national high performance network and the provincial ORANs.

The intent of this program is to permit access to a level of computational resources that would be hard to achieve through informal access to shared resources. For more modest requirements or testing purposes, access is available immediately to most systems and certainly to the SuperMicro system.

The deadline for submitting applications is April 24, 2012 at 3pm EDT. More info



(February 23, 2012 – Ottawa) – Compute Canada, Canada’s national platform of High Performance Computing (HPC) resources and partners, today announced grants of nearly $80 million worth of state-of-the-art computing, storage, and support resources allocated to 159 leading edge Canadian research projects across the country.

Compute Canada’s distributed resources represent close to two petaFLOPs of compute power, which is equal to two quadrillion calculations per second, and more than 20 petabytes of storage, equivalent to more than 400 million four-drawer filing cabinets filled with text. These competitively-awarded grants will allocate nearly 725 million processor-hours and eight petabytes of storage to the projects over the next year. Researchers will also have direct access to more than 40 Compute Canada programming and technical experts who are critical to enabling the efficient use of these state-of-the-art HPC systems.

“The scope and scale of today’s research investigations demand an incredible amount of computational power,” said Compute Canada Executive Director, Susan Baldwin. “Compute Canada responds to that need by delivering the essential tools and resources Canadian researchers need to respond to today’s big data challenges, propel ground-breaking discoveries, and develop new industrial applications or commercial opportunities.”

Each year Compute Canada accepts requests from researchers across the country whose projects require cutting-edge computing resources, storage, and expertise. The projects – which range from aerospace design and climate modeling to medical imaging and nanotechnology -- produce results and breakthroughs that in many cases simply wouldn’t be possible without Compute Canada’s resources.

“I’ve always been a champion of HPC because it enables us to perform the kind of complex, large-scale calculations that are essential for verifying our ideas and uncovering new findings,” says André Bandrauk, a University of Sherbrooke Professor of Theoretical Chemistry and Canada Research Chair in Computational Chemistry & Molecular Photonics. “These resources are critical for driving advancements in Canadian research as well as enabling Canadian researchers to compete on the international stage.”

The partner institutions and resource centres that comprise Compute Canada are hubs of interdisciplinary computational research, connected from coast to coast by the high-speed national CANARIE network and regional advanced networks. Together, these distributed computing facilities work collaboratively to provide the expertise and resources necessary to give Canada’s researchers and innovators access to these world-class technologies.

Compute Canada’s resources are granted based on scientific merit and computational need. In addition to the competitively-allocated grants for above-average computing requirements, all Canadian researchers have access to significant default allocations of computational resources and support expertise. For more information on Compute Canada, its regional consortia, and its distributed resources, visit the Compute Canada website: www.computecanada.org. More info



We are happy to announce that registration for SHARCNET Research Day 2012 is now open. The event will take place May 23, 2012 at the University of Guelph. Topics for presentations and posters include, but are not limited to, the following subject areas:

  • Computer science, algorithms and methods
  • Computational finance and statistics
  • Applied mathematics
  • Computational chemistry and biology
  • Computational physics
  • Computational fluid dynamics and engineering
  • Health science
  • Digital humanities

The abstract submission deadline is May 6, 2012.

A special issue of the Journal of Computational Science, which aims to be an international publication of novel research across all scientific disciplines, will be organized. Participants are invited to submit papers to be considered for publications. Please note that submission to the special issue is optional and is not required for participation or giving a presentation at Research Day. The deadline for paper submission is expected to be approximately three months after Research Day and will be announced later.

A printable poster is available for distribution.



HPCS 2012 and BCNET have opened registration and launched the event website for this year’s conference in Vancouver, BC. Co-hosted by WestGrid, Compute Canada and BCNET, the event is themed Connect. Compute. Collaborate. and will take place May 1-3, 2012. The three-day program is expected to draw nearly 500 delegates from post-secondary institutions, research organizations and technology-driven industries from across Canada. A call for papers has been issued online, with a deadline of March 15th for abstract submissions. Topics areas for papers include, but are not limited to, the following subjects:

  • Applications of HPC to any discipline in the physical, life and social sciences, and engineering
  • Computer architectures
  • Parallel/distributed/vector algorithms
  • Grid or cloud computing and related tools
  • Performance Modeling Evaluation
  • Wide-area data transfer
  • Management of large data sets
  • Green HPC or energy-efficient data centres
  • Visualization
  • Systems and Management

Accepted papers presented as lectures or posters will be published online in the open access Journal of Physics: Conference Series (JPCS), which is published by the Institute of Physics Publishing in the UK. All papers published in JPCS are fully citable and upon publication will be free to download. Citations to JPCS papers are tracked online using IOP Publishing’s citing articles facility, in addition to the full citation tracking facilities provided by Scopus.

For more information, or to submit your abstract online, please visit the HPCS 2012 website or email 2012@hpcs.ca.



Hamilton, ON (Feb. 6, 2012) – Closing elementary and secondary schools can help slow the spread of infectious disease and should be considered as a control measure during pandemic outbreaks, according to a McMaster University led study.

Using high-quality data about the incidence of influenza infections in Alberta during the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, the researchers show that when schools closed for the summer, the transmission of infection from person to person was sharply reduced.

“Our study demonstrates that school-age children were important drivers of pH1N1 transmission in 2009,” says David Earn, lead author of the study published in Annals of Internal Medicine. Earn is professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and member of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR).

Alberta was the only Canadian province to continue extensive virologic testing throughout the first wave and continuously to the middle of the second wave of the 2009 pandemic, allowing researchers to identify the causes of changes in incidence as the pandemic progressed.

“The data that we obtained were so good that our plots immediately revealed a huge drop in incidence when schools were closed for the summer,” says Earn. “Using state-of-the-art modeling, we then demonstrated that transmission was reduced by at least 50 per cent.”

The model also indicates that seasonal changes in weather significantly affected influenza transmission in cities in Alberta, but that they were much less important than school closures.

“Our study emphasizes the value of gathering data consistently throughout an outbreak,” says Earn. “For example, in Ontario they imposed testing restrictions on June 11, before schools had closed. We couldn’t possibly have done this analysis based on other parts of Canada.”

Earn and colleagues intend to continue to encourage policy makers to collect data through the course of an infectious disease outbreak. Only by swabbing large numbers of people throughout a pandemic, he says, the effects of various changes in behavior or control strategies are shown.

He adds that this article will help policy makers make the hard decision of whether or not to close schools during a pandemic outbreak.

“This strongly suggests that closing schools as a preventative measure is a strategy worth seriously thinking about. The next time a disease like SARS or the 1918 flu emerges, this paper will give policy makers more confidence that closing schools is likely to significantly reduce the rate of transmission.”

The study also involved McMaster investigators Jonathan Dushoff, associate professor of biology, and Mark Loeb, professor and division director of infectious diseases for the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, who are also members of the IIDR.

The study received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research. Computing resources for simulations were provided by Compute Canada’s SHARCNET.



WATERLOO, Ont. (Friday, Jan. 13, 2012) – A three-member international team of theoretical physicists, including a University of Waterloo professor, made a notable discovery about the unusual behaviour of electrons, with implications for all of physics. Their findings appear today in Science, one of the world’s pre-eminent journals for original, peer-reviewed scientific research.

This work is a significant step in allowing physicists the rare opportunity to study seemingly impossible fractional particles. The research team includes professor Roger G. Melko of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Waterloo, professor Matthew Hastings of the Department of Physics at Duke University in Durham, N.C. and also of Microsoft Research at the University of California, and lead author Sergei Isakov, a post-doctoral research associate with the Institut fur Theoretische Physik in Zurich, Switzerland. They used the computer power and capacity that Compute Canada’s Ontario-based supercomputing consortium SHARCNET provides to produce a simulation study that uncovered significant information about fractional particles when cooled to near absolute zero.

The researchers successfully created a simulated crystal of quantum material, which had just the right properties to be tuned to an unusual quantum state near absolute zero. When a particle with the fundamental electron charge was placed in that state, the team observed it fractionalize – or split itself – into two separate objects, each with a charge of half an electron. The researchers were then able to measure several values relating to the motion of the fractional particle. These numbers are universal, and so physicists can apply them across other areas of physics.

“What we have shown is not just that fractional particles can be created in a computer, but that they can affect universality at a phase transition. That means certainproperties transcend the specifics of the system, in our case the simulatedmaterial,” said Melko. “These properties will be present in other systems – physical, chemical, biological – that contain the same type of fractional particle. Thus, our work can be used to guide future studies looking for these odd half-electrons across a variety of disciplines.”

Rather than study high-energy systems, the team took advantage of the fact that low-temperature matter can come together to exhibit remarkable collective behaviour as quasiparticles. The motion of these cooperating particles, when viewed from a distance, is essentially indistinguishable from that of a regular, free particle. And, as they demonstrated in this paper, under just the right conditions, these quasiparticles can contain a fraction of the fundamental electron charge.

“The potential impact of our work is still unknown. The discovery of fractionalization in the quantum Hall effect revolutionized the way we think of matter. It won a Nobel Prize, and we are still building on this success,” said Melko. “Understanding these fractional particles could influence our understanding of superconductivity, help us build better electronics, and even play a part in the design of quantum computers in the future.”

The researchers’ article entitled “Universal Signatures of Fractionalized Quantum Critical Points” follows the team’s paper published last fall in the respected journal Nature Physics. That paper, which initially uncovered evidence for the existence of fractional particles in this low-temperature phase of matter was the result of months of collaboration and computer simulation work.



SHARCNET is pleased to announce the results of its Round III Dedicated Programming Support competition. See award details for more information.

Congratulations to all the awardees!



Beginning January 1, 2012 SHARCNET will no longer independently collect reporting information from our primary investigators, or require that SHARCNET accounts be renewed at the SHARCNET web portal. As of the new year this functionality will be provided by Compute Canada via the Compute Canada website. An email from Compute Canada will explain the new process in detail, however, it is quite similar to what SHARCNET has done in the past.

A major benefit of this transition is that primary investigators who use multiple Compute Canada facilities will no longer have to actively maintain multiple account profiles and respond to multiple reporting requests, as well as manage sponsored account renewals at each facility.

Should you have any questions or concerns about this transition please contact the appropriate support channel:

SHARCNET: help@sharcnet.ca
Compute Canada: accounts@computecanada.org