Gravitation waves detected, again!

June 15, 2016 in blog, blog-general, blog-technical, for_press, for_researchers, for_users, in_the_news, news, success_story, Testimonials

We congratulate the LIGO and Virgo collaborations to the second-ever observation of gravitational waves from colliding black holes.

SciNet is proud to have contributed to the computation of the waveform templates that were used in this latest discovery of LIGO. LIGO measured about 55 gravitational wave cycles for this new binary black hole system. This large number of cycles made detailed computations of the expected wave-shapes more important than for the first detected black hole merger that was announced in February.

Canada is a leader of numerical calculations of colliding black holes, research led by Professor Harald Pfeiffer, Canada Research Chair for Numerical Relativity and Gravitational Wave Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. Pfeiffer states: I am very grateful for the sustained support of the SciNet team during the last 7 years; their support and the access to computing time on SciNet’s supercomputers have been crucial for my research program and its profound contributions to the LIGO discovery.


Above: The in-spiral and collision of two black holes similar to GW151226. The top portion of the frame shows the horizons of the two holes, in this case, at the moment close to the merger of the black holes. The middle portion of the frame shows the gravitational waveform projected onto the LIGO Livingston detector. The bottom part shows the frequency of the gravitational waves, gradually increasing from about 35Hz to above 700Hz. For this system, LIGO could observe many more gravitational wave cycles than for the first discoved system (named GW150914).

Visualization done by University of Toronto Undergraduate student Aliya Babul & Prof. Harald Pfeiffer, within the SXS Collaboration/

2016 Ontario HPC Summer School – Toronto

June 2, 2016 in blog, blog-general, for_educators, for_press, for_researchers, for_users, frontpage, news


The 2016 Ontario Summer School on High Performance Computing is a week-long academic workshop that provides attendees with opportunities to learn and share knowledge and experiences in high performance computing, technical computing, and data science. The Ontario HPC Summer School is given in three locations, in different weeks. The first one was from May 30 to June 3 in Hamilton, the second will be in Toronto from July 11 to 15, hosted by SciNet, while a third will take place in Ottawa from August 8 to 12.

The format of the school is that of a five-day workshop with mixed lectures and hands-on sessions on a number of selected topics, including shared memory programming, distributed memory programming and general purpose graphics processing unit programming, and data science. The program varies slightly per location.

Most sessions are given in parallel. When registering for the Toronto event, you can pick the sessions you are interested in from the following schedule (note that you cannot register for only part of a session):


Monday July 11, 2016
9:30 am – 12:30 pm
single stream: Intro to high performance computing and SciNet
1:30pm – 4:30 pm
stream 1: Shared memory programming with OpenMP, part 1 of 2
stream 2: Intro to the Linux Shell

Tuesday July 12, 2016
9:30 am – 12:30 pm
stream 1: Shared memory programming with OpenMP, part 2 of 2
stream 2: R for data science
1:30pm – 4:30 pm
stream 1: Programming Clusters with MPI, part 1 of 3
stream 2: Parallel R for data science

Wednesday July 13, 2016
9:30 am – 12:30 pm
stream 1: Programming Clusters with MPI, part 2 of 3
stream 2: Python for scientific computing
1:30pm – 4:30 pm
stream 1: Programming Clusters with MPI, part 3 of 3
stream 2: Python for high performance computing

Thursday July 14, 2016
9:30 am – 12:30 pm
stream 1: Programming GPUs with CUDA, part 1 of 4
stream 2: Visualization, part 1 of 2
1:30pm – 4:30 pm
stream 1: Programming GPUs with CUDA, part 2 of 4
stream 2: Visualization, part 2 of 2

Friday July 15, 2016
9:30 am – 12:30 pm
stream 1: Programming GPUs with CUDA, part 3 of 4
stream 2: Debugging
1:30pm – 4:30 pm
stream 1: Programming GPUs with CUDA, part 4 of 4
stream 2: Bring your own code


This event will be held in the Mechanical Engineering Building at the University of Toronto

Wallberg Building
Rooms 116 and 119
University of Toronto
St. George Campus
184-200 College Street
Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3E5

The nearest subway station is “Queen’s Park”.
Paid parking is available on the St. George Campus.


Lodging is not provided by the organization. If you require lodging, you will have to make arrangements yourself. It may be worthwhile checking out the University’s summer residence program at .


Meals are not provided by the organization, but refreshments will be provided during the morning and afternoon breaks.


For the hands-on sessions, participants are to bring their own laptop with working wireless and with an ssh client with X-windows installed. The latter is needed to connect to one of SciNet’s supercomputers, to which the participant will get access for the duration of the School.


Participants that complete at least three days worth of instruction are to receive an Ontario Summer School Certificate on the last day of the School. Note that this certificate is separate from the SciNet certificates, but parts of the school may count towards a SciNet certificate as well.


For more information on the sessions and for registration, please go to

The registration is free and is aimed at Compute Canada users as well as students, post-docs and other researchers from academic institutions. You do not need to have a SciNet account. Please be advised that seats are limited and tend to fill up.

Science Rendezvous 2016

April 28, 2016 in for_educators, for_press, for_researchers, for_users, frontpage, in_the_news, news, success_story

Join us Saturday, May 7th for Science Rendezvous! It is an annual festival at the University of Toronto that takes science out of the lab and onto the street.

At the SciNet booth, explorers of all ages will find out how researchers use computers for discovery. They will see how simple computer simulations that you can run in your web browser or laptop can reveal important facts about how complex systems behave.

Click here for more details about Science Rendezvous and its many exhibitors.

SR 2016 at UofT (St. George Campus) 2

Gravitational Waves detected!!!

February 12, 2016 in blog, for_educators, for_press, for_researchers, for_users, in_the_news, news, success_story, Uncategorized

On February 11th, 2016 (10:30AM EST), scientists from Caltech, MIT and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration together with representatives of the National Science Foundation, announced in a live press conference, the first direct detection of gravitational waves.
The event detected, named GW150914, was produced by two colliding black holes, inspariling and merging together. This signal was detected by LIGO on September 14th, 2015.

Details of this discovery can be found in the following papers:

Many of the researchers running simulations and analysing data in several of our clusters are directly involved in the efforts for accurately modelling, simulating and detecting gravitational wave signals.
As a matter of fact, one of the simulations used for visualizing one of the movies screened during the announcement of the discovery of gravitational waves, was performed on SciNet’s General Purpose Cluster (GPC).

“The first detection of gravitational waves passing through Earth is a tremendous discovery. These waves were generated by never before observed astronomical objects, colliding black holes. I am very grateful for SciNet and Compute Canada to provide the computing resources needed to explore the properties of binary black holes, research that was instrumental in building the waveform-templates that LIGO used in its momentous discovery.”
Prof. Harald Pfeiffer (Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Toronto)

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Simulation of a binary black-hole system emitting gravitational radiation (gravitational waves) performed on SciNet’s General Purpose Cluster (GPC).
These simulations were performed by solving Einstein’s equations of General Relativity using a code co-developed on SciNet, by the SXS/CITA collaboration.
Credit: SXS/CITA/SciNet
Another of the videos displayed on the press-conf, was also produced by solving Einstein equations using this same computer code co-developed on SciNet by the SXS/CITA collaboration.

Big Data Challenge for HighSchool Students 2016

February 12, 2016 in blog-general, for_educators, for_press, frontpage, success_story

IMG_20160204_091035 IMG_20160204_144339 IMG_20160204_144158

SciNet in partnership with STEM Fellowship (, SAS and Open Data Toronto, organized the second edition of the “Big Data Challenge for High School Students”.

On Feb. 4th, the 2015/2016 Big Data Challenge for high school students took place. 8 teams from several schools across the GTA presented their research on data analytic in front of peers and judges.

Inspired by “Big Data in the City” theme, students gathered data from Open Data Toronto, analysed and investigated topics such as: immigration relocation strategies, emergency response for first responders services, identification of clusters in Toronto, environmental analysis of Toronto neighbourhoods, debt risk analysis of the city, collision patterns and prevention, data mining from social media related to energy efficient companies, among many others.

SciNet members, in addition to organize this event participated evaluating the initial proposals and judging the final 8 qualified for the final presentation.


Participants of the Big Data Challenge will be participating in tours to SciNet’s datacenter, as an unique opportunity to experience and visit the home of the largest super-computers in Canada!


Congratulations to all the participants!!!


Further information can be found in the following links:

Announcing SciNet’s Data Science Certificate Program

May 29, 2015 in for_educators, for_press, for_researchers, for_users, frontpage, news, Uncategorized


SciNet is pleased to announce the addition of a new certificate program, focused on Data Science.

As many of you know, SciNet not only provides compute cycles and storage, but also offers a wide range of education and training sessions. Users can already get a SciNet certificate in Scientific Computing or High Performance Computing when they have taken enough courses on those topics.

To reflect the growing trend in data-driven science, SciNet is now adding a new Certificate program, focused on Data Science.

To earn the SciNet Certificate in Data Science, users or students need to take at least 36 credit-hours of data science related SciNet courses such as “Hadoop workshop”, “Scalable data analysis with R / Python”, “Database Basics”, “Visualization”, and “Machine Learning”. Future courses on e.g. NoSql, statistics, and i/o and workflow, are being planned for the next academic year. Some parts of the upcoming Ontario Summer School Central to be held in Toronto in July at the University of Toronto, will count toward this certificate as well. See herefor details and registration regarding the summer school.

For other SciNet courses, you can register for on our education site, which will keep track of your progress in this new certificate, as well as for the other two certificates.

Science Rendezvous 2015

May 18, 2015 in blog, blog-general, for_press, for_users, news, Uncategorized


We had a great time at Science Rendezvous on May 9th, 2015!

Science Rendezvous is an annual festival in Canada that takes science out of the lab and onto the street. The University of Toronto is one of the event sites, and SciNet has been part of this event for many years.

At the SciNet booth, explorers of all ages found out how researchers use computers for discovery. They saw how even simple computer simulations that you can run in your web browser or laptop can teach them important facts about how complex systems behave.

The most popular demonstration seemed to be slingshot, a game where the aim is to fire a laser beam towards a target (spaceship) through a set of black holes that change the beam’s trajectory. Other interactive simulations were a bouncing ball on a vibrating plate, a forest fire web application, and an ecological simulation of rabbits and wolves (the latter two are available at

Many thanks to the organizers who made this possible, and to everyone who turned out on a Saturday to discover science!



SciNet to be the site for the new Large Parallel System

May 11, 2015 in for_press, for_researchers, for_users, in_the_news, news, Road_to_Niagara

As part of its strategy for Advanced Research Computing and High Performance Computing in Canada, Compute Canada has conducted a site selection for four new systems. These systems are intended to replace and augment the currently aging computational systems available to Canadian academic researchers.


Recognizing the diversity of ARC computing in academic research, Compute Canada is planning to install four systems. Three systems will be so-called General Purpose clusters, aimed at small to moderate sized jobs with a large variety of demands (e.g, IO, GPUS, memory, …).

The fourth machine will be a Large Parallel system, i.e. a tightly coupled parallel supercomputer intended for running large (on the order of at least 512 cores per job) parallel jobs, typically using the Message Passing Interface.

SciNet, at the University of Toronto, has been selected as the site for the LP system. The GP systems will be at the University of Victoria, at Simon Fraser University, and at the University of Waterloo.

Note that it is very hard at this stage to know when these new systems will be online. A rough, very tentative estimate is that they could start arriving sometime in 2016.

For more information regarding the selection, see the selection announcement by Compute Canada.

Big Data Challenge Day for High School Students

February 24, 2015 in for_educators, for_press, frontpage, in_the_news, news, Uncategorized


SciNet, SAS, the computer science department at Earl Haig Secondary School in Toronto, and NRC Research Press organized a Big Data Challenge for High School Students in 2014. Selected teams presented their analysis of a real data set of grocery purchases for the jury on Friday February 13, 2015. The winners were the team from Oakville-Trafalgar High School.

Read the full article at the University of Toronto News.

International HPC Summer School 2015

January 20, 2015 in blog, for_educators, for_press, for_researchers, for_users, frontpage


Apply by 11 March, decisions on 1 April
Expenses paid by program
Sponsored by PRACE, XSEDE, Riken, and Compute Canada

The sixth International Summer School on HPC Challenges in Computational Sciences will be held from June 21-26, 2015, in Toronto, Canada. This is an advanced summer school on High Performance Computing which targets graduate students and postdocs who already have some experience in HPC parallel programming (for instance, MPI, OpenMP, or CUDA/OpenCL), preferably on software used in successful research projects.

The organizers of this summer school are XSEDE, PRACE, Compute Canada, and RIKEN. SciNet, a partner in the Compute/Calcul Canada national advanced research computing platform, acts as the local organizer and contact.

Leading American, Canadian, European and Japanese computational scientists and HPC technologists will offer instruction on a variety of topics. The program is still being finalized, but previous summer schools included the following:

  • Access to EU, Canadian, Japanese and U.S. HPC-infrastructures
  • HPC challenges by discipline (e.g., bioinformatics, computer science, chemistry, and physics)
  • HPC Programming Proficiencies
  • Performance analysis & profiling
  • Algorithmic approaches & numerical libraries
  • Data-intensive computing
  • Scientific visualization

Participation in the summer school is decided through an application process. Meals, housing, and travel will be covered for the selected participants. Applications from students in all science and engineering fields are welcome. Although the school targets graduate students and postdocs, applications from research assistants and faculty are also welcome. Preference will be given to applicants with parallel programming experience, and a research plan that will benefit from the utilization of high performance computing systems.

Applications are due by March 11, 2015.
For further information and to apply online, please click here.