Global research uses computing services to advance parenting and child development

By | General Interest, Great Lakes, HPC, News, Research, Uncategorized

Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, professor of Social Work, has spent the past 15 years studying the impact of physical discipline on children within the United States. 

Working with a team of other researchers at the School of Social Work, co-led by professors Shawna Lee and Julie Ma, he recently expanded his research to include children from all over the world, rather than exclusively the U.S. Current data for 62 low- and middle-income countries has been provided by UNICEF, a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. This data provides a unique opportunity to study the positive things that parents do around the world.

a group of smiling children

(Image by Eduardo Davad from Pixabay)

“We want to push research on parenting and child development in new directions. We want to do globally-based, diversity-based work, and we can’t do that without ARC services,” said Grogan-Kaylor. “I needed a bigger ‘hammer’ than my laptop provided.” 

The “hammer” he’s referring to is the Great Lakes HPC cluster. It can handle processing the large data set easily. When Grogan-Kaylor first heard about ARC, he thought it sounded like an interesting way to grow his science, and that included the ability to run more complicated statistical models that were overwhelming his laptop and department desktop computers. 

He took a workshop led by Bennet Fauber, ARC senior applications programmer/analyst, and found Bennet to be sensible and friendly. Bennet made HPC resources feel within reach to a newcomer. Typically, Grogan-Kaylor says, this type of resource is akin to learning a new language, and he’s found that being determined and persistent and finding the right people are key to maximizing ARC services. Bennet has explained error messages, how to upload data, and how to schedule jobs on Great Lakes. He also found a friendly and important resource at the ARC Help Desk, which is staffed by James Cannon. Lastly, departmental IT director Ryan Bankston has been of enormous help in learning about the cluster.

“We’re here to help researchers do what they do best. We can handle the technology, so they can solve the world’s problems,” said Brock Palen, ARC director. 

“Working with ARC has been a positive, growthful experience, and has helped me contribute significantly to the discussion around child development and physical punishment,” said Grogan-Kaylor. “I have a vision of where I’d like our research to go, and I’m pleased to have found friendly, dedicated people to help me with the pragmatic details.” 

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RMP new feature alert: Manage Turbo users on-demand

By | General Interest, News, Systems and Services

Advanced Research Computing (ARC), a division of ITS, has been developing a self-service tool called the Resource Management Portal (RMP) to give researchers and their delegates the ability to directly manage the IT research services they consume from ARC. 

Turbo Research Storage customers now have the option to directly manage their own approved users. 

“Previously, customers would have to submit a ticket and then wait for several days to get a resolution to their request. Now it takes just seconds,” said Todd Raeker, ARC research experience manager. 

The RMP is a self-service-only user portal with tools and APIs for research managers, unit support staff, and delegates to manage their ARC IT resources. The RMP team is slowly adding capabilities over time. 

To get started or find help, contact arcts-support@umich.edu

ARC, LSA support groundbreaking global energy tracking

By | General Interest, Great Lakes, HPC, News, Research, Uncategorized

How can technology services like high-performance computing and storage help a political scientist contribute to more equal access to electricity around the world? 

Brian Min, associate professor of political science and research associate professor with the Center for Political Studies, and lead researcher Zachary O’Keeffe have been using nightly satellite imagery to generate new indicators of electricity access and reliability across the world as part of the High-Resolution Electricity Access (HREA) project. 

The collection of satellite imagery is unique in its temporal and spatial coverage. For more than three decades, images have captured nighttime light output over every corner of the globe, every single night. By studying small variations in light output over time, the goal is to identify patterns and anomalies to determine if an area is electrified, when it got electrified, and when the power is out. This work yields the highest resolution estimates of energy access and reliability anywhere in the world.

A satellite image of Kenya in 2017

This image of Kenya from 2017 shows a model-based classification of electrification status based upon all night statistically recalibrated 2017 VIIRS light output. (Image courtesy Dr. Min. Sources: NOAA, VIIRS DNB, Facebook/CIESIN HRSL).

LSA Technology Services and ARC both worked closely with Min’s team to relieve pain points and design highly-optimized, automated workflows. Mark Champe, application programmer/analyst senior, LSA Technology Services, explained that, “a big part of the story here is finding useful information in datasets that were created and collected for other purposes. Dr. Min is able to ask these questions because the images were previously captured, and then it becomes the very large task of finding a tiny signal in a huge dataset.”

There are more than 250 terabytes of satellite imagery and data, across more than 3 million files. And with each passing night, the collection continues to grow. Previously, the images were not easily accessible because they were archived in deep storage in multiple locations. ARC provides processing and storage at a single place, an important feature for cohesive and timely research. 

The research team created computational models that run on the Great Lakes High-Performance Computing Cluster, and that can be easily replicated and validated. They archive the files on the Locker Large-File Storage service

One challenge Min and O’Keeffe chronically face is data management. Images can be hundreds of megabytes each, so just moving files from the storage service to the high-performance computing cluster can be challenging, let alone finding the right storage service. Using Turbo Research Storage and Globus File Transfer, Min and O’Keeffe found secure, fast, and reliable solutions to easily manage their large, high-resolution files.

Brock Palen, director of ARC, said that top speeds were reached when moving files from Great Lakes to Turbo at 1,400 megabytes per second. 

Min and team used Globus extensively in acquiring historical data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Champe worked with the research team to set up a Globus connection to ARC storage services. The team at NOAA was then able to push the data to U-M quickly and efficiently. Rather than uploading the data to later be downloaded by Min’s team, Globus streamlined and sped up the data transfer process. 

Champe noted, “Over 100TB of data was being unarchived from tape and transferred between institutions. Globus made that possible and much less painful to manage.”

“The support we’ve gotten from ARC and LSA Technology has been incredible. They have made our lives easier by removing bottlenecks and helping us see new ways to draw insights from this unique data,” said Min. 

Palen added, “We are proud to partner with LSA Technology Services and ITS Infrastructure networking services to provide support to Dr. Min’s and O’Keeffe’s work. Their work has the potential to have a big impact in communities around the world.” 

“We should celebrate work such as this because it is a great example of impactful research done at U-M that many people helped to support,” Champe continued.

Min expressed his gratitude to the project’s partners. “We have been grateful to work with the World Bank and NOAA to generate new insights on energy access that will hopefully improve lives around the world.”

These images are now available via open access (free and available to all)

This is made possible by a partnership between the University of Michigan, the World Bank, Amazon Web Services, and NOAA

Name change: ARC-TS is now ARC

By | General Interest, News

ITS ARC logo

We are excited to announce that we will be changing our name from Advanced Research Computing – Technology Services (ARC-TS) to Advanced Research Computing (ARC).

Along with the entire ITS team, we are committed to enhancing our support of high performance computing infrastructure and delivering intuitive research computing solutions that are agile and researcher-centric—and we hope that this name change will give a grateful nod to the history and growth of HPC at Michigan.

We will update ARC-TS’s website to reflect the new name on Mar. 6, between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. It will have a new URL, arc.umich.edu, and there will be automatic redirects for anyone using the previous URL. The Twitter handle has been renamed @umichARC, and customers can continue to reach the Help Desk at arcts-support@umich.edu.

This change does not affect the groups that were previously part of ARC (MICDE, MIDAS, and CSCAR), and those groups will remain as independent units within the Office of Research.

Director Brock Palen and team look forward to continuing working collaboratively with units in ITS and across the university to deliver world-class technology to researchers. 

DNA sequencing productivity increases with ARC-TS services

By | HPC, News, Research, Systems and Services
NovaSeq, the DNA sequencer that is about the size of large laser printer.

The Advanced Genomics Core’s Illumina NovaSeq 6000 sequencing platform. It’s about the size of large laser printer.

On the cutting-edge of research at U-M is the Advanced Genomics Core’s Illumina NovaSeq 6000 sequencing platform. The AGC is one of the first academic core facilities to optimize this exciting and powerful instrument, that is about the size of a large laser printer. 

The Advanced Genomics Core (AGC), part of the Biomedical Research Core Facilities within the Medical School Office of Research, provides high-quality, low-cost next generation sequencing analysis for research clients on a recharge basis. 

One NovaSeq run can generate as much as 4TB of raw data. So how is the AGC able to generate, process, analyze, and transfer so much data for researchers? They have partnered with Advanced Research Computing – Technology Services (ARC-TS) to leverage the speed and power of the Great Lakes High-Performance Computing Cluster

With Great Lakes, AGC can process the data, and then store the output on other ARC-TS services: Turbo Research Storage and Data Den Research Archive, and share with clients using Globus File Transfer. All three services work together. Turbo offers the capacity and speed to match the computational performance of Great Lakes, Data Den provides an archive of raw data in case of catastrophic failure, and Globus has the performance needed for the transfer of big data. 

“Thanks to Great Lakes, we were able to process dozens of large projects simultaneously, instead of being limited to just a couple at a time with our in-house system,” said Olivia Koues, Ph.D., AGC managing director. 

“In calendar year 2020, the AGC delivered nearly a half petabyte of data to our research community. We rely on the speed of Turbo for storage, the robustness of Data Den for archiving, and the ease of Globus for big data file transfers. Working with ARC-TS has enabled incredible research such as making patients resilient to COVID-19. We are proudly working together to help patients.”

“Our services process more than 180,000GB of raw data per year for the AGC. That’s the same as streaming the three original Star Wars movies and the three prequels more than 6,000 times,” said Brock Palen, ARC-TS director. “We enjoy working with AGC to assist them into the next step of their big data journey.”

ARC-TS is a division of Information and Technology Services (ITS). The Advanced Genomics Core (ACG) is part of the Biomedical Research Core Facilities (BRCF) within the Medical School Office of Research.

Using machine learning and the Great Lakes HPC Cluster for COVID-19 research

By | General Interest, Great Lakes, HPC, News, Research, Uncategorized

A researcher in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) is pioneering two separate, ongoing efforts for measuring and forecasting COVID-19: pandemic modeling and a risk tracking site

The projects are led by Sabrina Corsetti, a senior undergraduate student pursuing dual degrees in honors physics and mathematical sciences, and supervised by Thomas Schwarz, Ph.D., associate professor of physics. 

The modeling uses a machine learning algorithm that can forecast future COVID-19 cases and deaths. The weekly predictions are made using the ARC-TS Great Lakes High-Performance Computing Cluster, which provides the speed and dexterity to run the modeling algorithms and data analysis needed for data-informed decisions that affect public health. 

Each week, 51 processes (one for each state and one for the U.S.) are run in parallel (at the same time). “Running all 51 analyses on our own computers would take an extremely long time. The analysis places heavy demands on the hardware running the computations, which makes crashes somewhat likely on a typical laptop. We get all 51 done in the time it would take to do 1,” said Corsetti. “It is our goal to provide accurate data that helps our country.”

The predictions for the U.S. at the national and state levels are fed into the COVID-19 Forecasting Hub, which is led by the UMass-Amherst Influenza Forecasting Center of Excellence based at the Reich Lab. The weekly predictions generated by the hub are then read out by the CDC for their weekly forecast updates Center for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 Forecasting Hub

The second project, a risk tracking site, involves COVID-19 data-acquisition from a Johns Hopkins University repository and the Michigan Safe Start Map. This is done on a daily basis, and the process runs quickly. It only takes about five minutes, but the impact is great. The data populates the COVID-19 risk tracking site for the State of Michigan that shows by county the total number of COVID-19 cases, the average number of new cases in the past week, and the risk level.

“Maintaining the risk tracking site requires us to reliably update its data every day. We have been working on implementing these daily updates using Great Lakes so that we can ensure that they happen at the same time each day. These updates consist of data pulls from the Michigan Safe Start Map (for risk assessments) and the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 data repository (for case counts),” remarked Corsetti.

“We are proud to support this type of impactful research during the global pandemic,” said Brock Palen, director of Advanced Research Computing – Technology Services. “Great Lakes provides quicker answers and optimized support for simulation, machine learning, and more. It is designed to meet the demands of the University of Michigan’s most intensive research.”

ARC-TS is a division of Information and Technology Services (ITS). 

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SEAS study wildlife refuge wetlands habitats using machine learning

By | General Interest, News, Research

This article was written by Taylor Gribble, the ARC-TS summer 2020 intern. 

A U-M School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) student team is working with the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge to study how fish move through different wetland habitats. Their work is primarily dependent on being in the field, but in March the pandemic delayed fieldwork. In June, the team of SEAS master students was allowed to begin socially distant field work. But the question was: How? 

With the help of the ARC-TS Scientific Computing and Research Consulting Services, the SEAS students were able to pivot their research methodology and develop advanced analysis approaches for hydroacoustic data using strategically placed cameras and machine learning.

The Shiawassee refuge is divided into separately managed wetland units. These wetland units can be connected or cut off from one another and the Shiawassee river. An Adaptive Resolution Imaging Sonar (ARIS) camera has been placed at the connection point between the refuge’s “control” wetland units and the river to track fish movements between these two ecosystems. They are created through human-made dikes and water control structures.

In order to find answers about fish movement, the SEAS team is divided into three separate parts: 

  1. In-the-field monitoring of fish, macroinvertebrates, water quality, and vegetation
  2. ARIS camera work: understanding how to use ARIS footage to answer ecological questions using machine learning facilitated by the ARC-TS Data Consultation Service
  3. Community education and outreach regarding restoration work at the refuge

Meghan Richey, machine learning specialist, and Armand Burks, research data scientist, are part of the ARC-TS Data Science Consultation team. Together they are working to see the project through by understanding the needs of the SEAS research team and providing the necessary coding expertise. In addition, they are working to provide the SEAS team with tools to become independent programmers so they can implement programming/coding into their future research endeavors.  

Richey works with the machine learning team. Machine learning is a tool for turning information into knowledge. It automatically finds patterns in complex data that are difficult for a human to find. While traditional problem solving uses data and rules to find an answer, machine learning uses data and answers to find the rules that apply to a problem. Together, they count the number of fish moving in front of the camera that was originally placed in mid-March but removed in mid-May due to flooding from the dam breaches in Midland, Mich. The camera has since been placed back into the “avenue” between one of the managed wetland pools and the river. With the help of a written machine algorithm, Richey and the SEAS team are able to count the number of fish they’re seeing in front of the camera feed. There is one camera placed in the water that is taking underwater images of the fish. The fish swim by the camera, and the team captures these frames.

Burks is responsible for the data conversion stages of the project. “They have a large amount of data that’s generated from the underwater camera. These aren’t the typical cameras as we would think of; they work with sonar which is based on sound. It is generating a lot of data in this sound-based sonar format that needs to be converted into something that is usable by the machine learning model.”

In order for the program to run smoothly and be able to count the fish, Burks and SEAS team had to develop a tool that allows them to turn the raw data into an actual video feed. Once this is completed the SEAS research team watch a series of pre-recorded videos that are saved to files. In order to receive the raw data, a large data conversion must happen to transform raw sonar data into videos. From there, the machine learning algorithms can be built and analyzed.

The ARC-TS team plans to continue working with the students and the team at the refuge to refine their methods and test with recently collected footage.

Bring the power of the HPC clusters to your laptop 

By | Great Lakes, HPC, News

Open OnDemand (OOD) is a tool that brings to researchers and students the power of Great Lakes, the university’s flagship open-science, high-performance, computing cluster. 

Open OnDemand is a way for researchers and students to use a web interface to access the Advanced Research Computing – Technology Services (ARC-TS) Great Lakes and Lighthouse High-Performance Computing resources. Because users do not need to have any technical training, it’s as simple as going to a browser and logging in. Users can start working immediately. 

“It’s your laptop, but 1,000 times bigger,” said Brock Palen, director, ARC-TS. “Open OnDemand offers our customers the speed and capacity of the HPC clusters without investing hours in training.”

The benefits of OOD are many, including providing easy file management, command-line shell access to the HPC clusters, job management and monitoring, and graphical desktop environments and desktop interactive applications such as RStudio, MATLAB, and Jupyter Notebook.

“This system works well for a range of fields from engineering to the physical and social sciences. Open OnDemand has lowered the barrier to access powerful HPC clusters so that students and researchers can do incredibly innovative work,” said Matt Britt, ARC-TS HPC manager. 

Additional resources:

ARC-TS is a division of Information and Technology Services (ITS).

3-2-1…blast off! COE students use ARC-TS HPC clusters for rocket design

By | Educational, General Interest, Great Lakes, Happenings, HPC, News
MASA team photo

The MASA team has been working with the ARC-TS and the Great Lakes High-Performance Computing Clusters to rapidly iterate simulations. What previously took six hours on another cluster, takes 15 minutes on Great Lakes. (Image courtesy of MASA)

This article was written by Taylor Gribble, the ARC-TS summer 2020 intern. 

The Michigan Aeronautical Science Association (MASA) is a student-run engineering team at U-M that has been designing, building, and launching rockets since its inception in 2003. Since late 2017, MASA has focused on developing liquid-bipropellant rockets—which are rockets that react to a liquid fuel with a liquid oxidizer to produce thrust—in an effort to remain at the forefront of collegiate rocketry. The team is made up of roughly 70 active members including both undergraduate and graduate students who participate year-round.

Since 2018, MASA has been working on the Tangerine Space Machine (TSM) rocket which aims to be the first student-built liquid-bipropellant rocket to ever be launched to space. When completed, the rocket’s all-metal airframe will stand over 25 feet tall. The TSM will reach an altitude of 400,000 feet and will fly to space at over five times the speed of sound.

MASA is building this rocket as part of the Base 11 Space Challenge which was organized by the Base 11 Organization to encourage high school and college students to get involved in STEM fields. The competition has a prize of $1 million, to be awarded to the first team to successfully reach space. MASA is currently leading the competition, having won Phase 1 of the challenge in 2019 with the most promising preliminary rocket design.

Since the start of the TSM project, MASA has made great strides towards achieving its goals. The team has built and tested many parts of the complete system, including custom tanks, electronics, and ground support equipment. In 2020, the experimental rocket engine designed by MASA for the rocket broke the student thrust record when it was tested, validating the work that the team had put into the test.

The team’s rapid progress was made possible in-part by the extensive and lightning-quick simulations using the ARC-TS Great Lakes High-Performance Computing Cluster.

The student engineers are Edward Tang, Tommy Woodbury, and Theo Rulko, and they have been part of MASA for over two years.

Tang is MASA’s aerodynamics and recovery lead and a junior studying aerospace engineering with a minor in computer science. His team is working to develop advanced in-house flight simulation software to predict how the rocket will behave during its trip to space.

“Working on the Great Lakes HPC Cluster allows us to do simulations that we can’t do anywhere else. The simulations are complicated and can be difficult to run. We have to check it, and do it again; over and over and over,” said Tang. “The previous computer we used would take as long as six hours to render simulations. It took 15 minutes on Great Lakes.”

A computer simulation of Liquid Oxygen Dome Coupled Thermal-Structural

This image shows a Liquid Oxygen Dome Coupled Thermal-Structural simulation that was created on the ARC-TS Great Lakes HPC Cluster. (Image courtesy of MASA)

Rulko, the team’s president, is a junior studying aerospace engineering with a minor in materials science and engineering.

Just like Tang, Rulko has experience using the Great Lakes cluster. “Almost every MASA subteam has benefited from access to Great Lakes. For example, the Structures team has used it for Finite Element Analysis simulations of complicated assemblies to make them as lightweight and strong as possible, and the Propulsion team has used it for Computational Fluid Dynamics simulations to optimize the flow of propellants through the engine injector. These are both key parts of what it takes to design a rocket to go to space which we just wouldn’t be able to realistically do without access to the tools provided by ARC-TS.”

Rulko’s goals for the team include focusing on developing as much hardware/software as possible in-house so that members can control and understand the entire process. He believes MASA is about more than just building rockets; his goal for the team is to teach members about custom design and fabrication and to make sure that they learn the problem-solving skills they need to tackle real-world engineering challenges. “We want to achieve what no other student team has.”

MASA has recently faced unforeseen challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic that threaten to hurt not only the team’s timeline but also to derail the team’s cohesiveness. “Beaucase of the pandemic, the team is dispersed literally all over the world. Working with ARC-TS has benefitted the entire team. The system has helped us streamline and optimize our workflow, and has made it easy to connect to Great Lakes, which allows us to rapidly develop and iterate our simulations while working remotely from anywhere,” said Tang. “The platform has been key to allowing us to continue to make progress during these difficult times.”

Tommy Woodbury is a senior studying aerospace engineering. Throughout his time on MASA he has been able to develop many skills. “MASA is what has made my time here at Michigan a really positive experience. Having a group of highly-motivated and supportive individuals has undoubtedly been one of the biggest factors in my success transferring to Michigan.

This image depicts the Liquid Rocket Engine Injector simulation.

This image depicts the Liquid Rocket Engine Injector simulation. (Image courtesy of MASA)

ARC-TS is a division of Information and Technology Services. Great Lakes is available without charge for student teams and organizations who need HPC resources. This program aims to enable students access to high-performance computing to enhance their team’s mission.

Back-to-school research technology you can use

By | General Interest, News

Advanced Research Computing — Technology Services, a division of ITS,  provides access to and support for advanced computing resources. ARC-TS facilitates new and more powerful approaches to research challenges in fields ranging from physics to linguistics, and from engineering to medicine.

Here are the top 5 research technologies you need for a successful academic year:

  1. Get connected with the ITS Remote Resource Guide for specific information for researchers. 
  2. High-performance computing (HPC) including the Great Lakes HPC Cluster that is suitable for most use cases, and the Armis2 HPC Cluster that is appropriate for sensitive data including PHI/HIPAA.
  3. ARC-TS and ITS have long- and short-term storage options to support researchers. The ITS Data Storage Finder will help you find storage solutions to meet your needs.
  4. U-M Dropbox is available with 5TB of storage for individual accounts for all active faculty, staff, students, emeritus faculty, and sponsored affiliates at the Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Flint, and Michigan Medicine campuses.
  5. eResearch is the University of Michigan’s site for electronic research administration, including Regulatory Management for IRB and IBC review and approval, eRAM for animal research, Proposal Management for grant proposal organization, and M-Inform for disclosing and managing outside conflicts of interest. 

ARC-TS partners with Consulting for Statistics, Computing and Analytics Research (CSCAR) for training. CSCAR provides individualized support and training to researchers in a variety of areas relating to the management, collection, and analysis of data. CSCAR also supports the use of technical software and advanced computing in research. 

Find us on Twitter for updates. 

How can we help you? 

Contact the ARC-TS Help Desk, arcts-support@umich.edu