HPC-Europa3 report: studying the strong force between quarks and gluons

Author: Guest blogger
Posted: 13 May 2020 | 15:25

HPC-Europa3 visitor Fernando Romero López, a PhD student from the Institute of Corpuscular Physics (IFIC) at the University of Valencia in Spain, visited Dr Antonio Rago of Mathematical Sciences at Plymouth University earlier this year. Here he describes his experience.

I am a physicist doing my PhD in theoretical particle physics at the University of Valencia. During January and February, I had the chance to visit the UK for a six-week research project at the University of Plymouth as a part of the HPC-Europa3 programme.

My research field is the study of the strong force between quarks and gluons. This interaction is responsible for binding the fundamental particles (quarks) into protons and neutrons, which are the components of atomic nuclei. The theory describing the strong force is called Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) because the fundamental particles have a property denominated “colour”. First principles predictions from QCD require a numerical approach, in which physical observables are computed in a lattice of space-time points: lattice QCD. These are typically very costly and require access to high performance computing. Some lattice QCD simulations use more than 2,000 cores!

The local lattice QCD group in Plymouth is involved in the development of a flexible lattice QCD code (HiRep) that is efficiently parallelized using a hybrid OpenMP and MPI setup. The project I developed in Plymouth was the implementation in HiRep of a new formulation of fermions on the lattice, that exhibits improved simulation properties.

The time in Plymouth was very productive. We finished a big part of the implementation while I was there, as well as some basic tests. I worked with almost everyone in the local lattice QCD group, started a few projects with them, and established a fluid line of collaboration with the researchers in Plymouth. The time was also useful for my training: I improved my coding skills, as well as developing new perspectives and ideas. In addition, many discussions were very useful for other somewhat unrelated projects in which I am involved during my PhD. Since my return to Valencia, I have had weekly calls with them. We expect to publish part of this work in the following months. 

I also enjoyed discovering Plymouth and its surroundings in Devon and Cornwall. I loved the views at the shore of the South-West of England. Even with winter weather, the landscape has an undeniable charm. I even made some friends, and they showed me around! Hopefully, when the world gets back to normal, I will be able to visit my friends and collaborators again. I am really looking forward to further exploring the area.  

HPC-Europa3 website


Fernando Romero López, University of Valencia, Spain