High-performance computing to aid scientific discovery


The University is to be part of two supercomputing centres - to boost the ability of researchers to make major scientific breaththroughs.

The announcement is part of a £27 million investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to ensure academics have access to state-of-the-art, high-performance computing facilities.

A challenge in scientific development is the ability of researchers to analyse the vast quantities of data produced by modern experimental equipment, such as electron microscopes. High-performance computers can help.

Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, Executive Chair of the EPSRC, said: “Computation is becoming an ever more important scientific tool, be it for analysing large data sets generated from experimental work or modelling situations which cannot be replicated in experiments.”

The University will be part of two supercomputing centres: NICE, the Northern Intensive Computing Environment - and JADE 2, the Joint Academic Data Service Endeavour.

The NICE supercomputer is receiving £3.1 million from EPSRC and is a partnership involving the N8 north of England research universities.

It will help scientists investigate the large volumes of imaging data produced by research teams such as those at the Bragg Centre for Materials Research at Leeds, who design and create new materials or the Astbury BioStructure Laboratory who use imaging to understand how proteins interact and diseases could be treated.

Dr Sarah Harris, Associate Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Leeds, will use the supercomputing facilities in her research into proteins. She said: “Experimental imaging facilities can now output vast quantities of data due to recent improvements in detector technologies, so the bottleneck to gaining scientific insight has become largely computational.”

“The NICE facility aims to address this problem by combining image analysis synergistically with new AI algorithms, modelling and simulation to maximise the scientific understanding we get from our data."

Expert computational support will be available to researchers to help them make best use of the NICE supercomputing facility.

JADE 2 is receiving £5.5 million. Involving a partnership of 18 universities and the Alan Turing Institute, the supercomputer will be sited at the Hartree Centre in Cheshire, home to some of the most advanced computing, AI and data technologies in the country.

It is a high-performance computational facility which will be used by two research groups at Leeds involved in AI and machine learning, and molecular simulation.

The facilities will be used by PhD researchers at the Centre for Doctoral Training in AI for Medical Diagnosis and Healthcare, based with the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics.

David Hogg, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Leeds and Director of the doctoral training programme, said: “The network will foster a powerful nucleus of academics and researchers who will be looking to develop new ideas and technology around AI.

“At Leeds, our focus is on how AI can be used to improve the diagnosis of cancer where it can help clinicians make faster and more reliable decisions by “reading” scans, radiological images and medical notes looking for information and patterns that indicate ill health.”

The ESPRC announced a total of seven supercomputing facilities across the UK.

For further information, please contact David Lewis in the University of Leeds press office: 0113 343 2049.