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CERN Schools of Computing for the LHC Computing Grid

Final Activity Report Summary - CSC-LCG (CERN schools of computing for the LHC computing grid)

The CERN Schools of Computing
Since the early seventies CERN has organised the CERN Schools of Computing (CSCs). They last two weeks and are open to postgraduate students and research workers with a few years of experience in elementary particle physics, in computing or in related fields. Attendance ranges from 70 to 80 students, typically of 15 to 25 different nationalities.

The two-week programme of the CSC is comprised of a series of lectures and hand-on exercises. To this end, a computing infrastructure is created on the site of the school. Students apply to the CSC from all over the world. Since 1970, 30 schools have been organised in 19 different countries, attended by a total of 1947 students.

Support from the EC
From 2004 to 2007, the school was supported by the Marie Curie Action (MCA) programme of the European Commission (EC), providing grants to eligible participants to cover part of all of their costs.

During this period, 4 schools were organised in 4 different countries: 2004: Vico-Equense (Italy); 2005: Saint-Malo (France); 2006: Helsinki (Finland); 2007: Dubrovnik (Croatia).

Facts and figures
During the period of EC support (2004-2007), a total of 314 young scientists attended the school, of which 313 were eligible for support by the MCA programme, some of them from developing regions being fully funded. The young researchers were of 55 different nationalities.

Final examination
One key aspect of CSCs is the optional examination. The examination is computer-based, in the form of multiple-choice questions and was overseen by a jury formed of lecturers and chaired by the School Director. In case of success, formal certificates of proficiency were delivered by CERN. They may be used by some participants who are engaged in university curricula, to obtain credits.

Scientific programme
Each of the 4 CSCs was organised around three themes.

The programme consisted on average of 30 hours of lectures and 20 hours of exercises.
- The Grid computing theme provided the ability to get hand-on experience with modern Grid tools. A major part was dedicated to Grid software that is deployed by the LHC Computing Grid system and the EC-funded EGEE project (both managed by CERN).
- The Software Technologies theme presented modern techniques for software design and engineering. It was complemented by a series on Network Quality of Service. Depending on the year, were organised series on: Software Evolution and Testing; Technologies for Interactive & Distributed Computing; Computer Security; Web services; Creating secure software.
- The Physics Computing theme started with a series on the fundamentals of physics computing, giving an overview of the software and hardware components required for the processing of the experimental data. This was followed by a series on scientific simulation. Depending on the year, were organised series on: Databases and object persistency; Data Analysis and Visualisation; On-line Data Acquisition; Introduction to ROOT technologies.

Lecturers and organisation
Lecturers came from from Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, UK, USA. During this period, the School Director was François Fluckiger.

Equal opportunity
On average, 21% of the young participants were female. Year by year, the fraction of female participants was as follows: 2004: 18%. 2005: 12%, 2006: 12%, 2007: 30%.

Inverted School:
One objective is to favour the persistency of relationships between all participants after the events. To this end, a novel idea was introduced in 2004: holding an "Inverted CERN School of Computing" (iCSC) 6 months after the main school, "where Students turn unto teachers".

After each school, participants worked together to develop topics. Some of them were selected to form a 2.5-day school which took place at CERN in March 2005, 2006 and 2008. In total, over the three inverted schools, 41 hours of tuition were delivered by 22 young researchers.