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CHPC starts the year with Linux and Python training

The Centre for High performance Computing (CHPC) had a busy start to the year, with human capital development collaborations involving two of its stakeholders, North West University (NWU) and the National Institute for Theoretical Physics (NITheP).

NWU- CHPC Programming with Linux and Python collaboration:

As one of the universities that make use of the CHPC supercomputer, NWU sent a special request to the CHPC to send high performance computing specialists to conduct a five-day programming workshop aimed at providing basic to intermediate programming skills to the university’s teaching staff and postgraduate students.

The training took place from 14 to18 January at the university’s Potchefstroom campus.

The training consisted of two-days of Introduction to Linux (Ubuntu) and three days of Introduction to Python programming. The university received 75 applications for this workshop, of which 34 were accepted. The hands-on training was aimed at staff and postgraduate students in the fields of chemistry, physics, mathematics, applied mathematics, biology, bioinformatics, computer science and engineering, who had no prior knowledge of the programming languages.

Professor Du Toit Strauss of the NWU’s Centre for Space Research (CSR) says, “Our students need to be prepared to tackle the contemporary challenges posed by the fourth industrial revolution. Therefore, computational skills are essential. These hands-on training courses provide the participants with the necessary skills, and we are grateful to the CHPC for giving us and our students the opportunity be a part of this”.

“Based on the number of applications we received, it is clear that there is a need for similar training workshops and to branch out and become more inclusive across all disciplines in academia,” says Katlego Moloto, also associated with the CSR.

2019 CHPC-NITheP Summer School

In late January 2019, the CHPC and NITheP combined the 9th CHPC Introductory Programming School and the30th Chris Engelbrecht Summer School in a joint venture aimed at bridging the gap between theoretical studies and high performance computing. The workshop took place from 26 January 2019 until 6 February 2019, at the Premier Resort. The school that was attended by 70 students and speakers targeted Master’s and Doctoral students engaged in science and engineering degrees in South African Universities. The syllabus covered an introduction toLinux, which covered a basic introduction to the Linux command line, bash scripting and Introduction to PBS Pro and job submission at CHPC. It was conducted by Dr Krishna Govender, CHPC Research Scientist, with the support of Dr Daniel Moeketsi, CHPC Research Scientist and HPC Technician, Zama Mtshali.

Dr Andrew Gill, CHPC Research Scientist, then led the session on Python Programming and was supported by HPC Technicians William Phukungwane and Sakhile Masoka. Their session covered the basics of python and syntax, advanced function, using matplotlib with python and the use of advanced mathematical packages, such as numpy and scipy.

The school was complimented by other institutions that conducted tutorials and talks around related topics, such as Foundations of Theoretical and Computational Physics, Foundations of Theoretical and Computational Biology, Foundations of Theoretical and Computational Chemistry, Foundations of Quantum Information Processing and Computation and Machine Learning as a Tool for Theoretical and Computational Science.

Why is training in Linux and Python so important in the world of big data?

CHPC’s scientists Drs Daniel Moeketsi, Krishna Govender and Andrew Gill are some of the CHPC staff who run training courses in Python and Linux regularly, both in South Africa and in the Square Kilometre Array’s African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network partner countries.

Dr Moeketsi explains that almost all of the top 500 supercomputers in the world are using Linux, including the CHPC’s Lengau machine. “In this intervention, the centre is assisting in training students and researchers to be proficient in Linux and Python, so that they can maximise their use of Lengau. This training is crucial for high performance computing and big data science,” he says.