The major high energy physics experiments in operation today and those of the next generation face daunting technological challenges associated with the need to acquire, process and analyze unprecedented quantities of data. But the principal challenge facing our field is that of global collaboration. HEP has had a remarkable tradition of success in global collaboration on accelerators, detectors and communications in physics. In this information era the field is, on the contrary, experiencing difficulties in providing equal access to the data. Scientists from all regions must be able to access and analyze the data, and above all be able to collaborate effectively with their peers around the world, including when they are at their home institutions.
Today, physicists from some developing regions need substantial improvements in their national and international network connections, or they will be unable to make significant contributions to their experiments. Without these improvements, physicists in these regions will be denied the right to be full partners in their experiments, and their students at home will be unable to take part in the physics discoveries.
Meeting these challenges is vital for the future of our field, but the inequities between different regions as information technology has advanced have in many cases only increased with time. Technological advances in networking in the most-favored regions (e.g. the US, western Europe and Japan) have progressed much faster than Moore's Law over the last 20 years, while less-favored countries have been held back by problems of unfavorable government policies, lack of infrastructure and/or lack of training. We have therefore reached a critical point where, unless we take concerted action, the 'Digital Divide' that separates the more- and less-favored regions will only widen.
ICFA, understanding the vital role of these issues for our field's future, commissioned the Standing Committee on Inter-regional Connectivity (SCIC) to survey and monitor the state of the networks used by our field in 1998. For the past four years the SCIC has focused on understanding and seeking the means of reducing or eliminating the Digital Divide, and proposed in ICFA that these issues, as they affect our field of high energy physics, be bought to our community for discussion. These activities led to ICFA's approval of the first Digital Divide and HEP Grid Workshop, which took place in Rio de Janeiro in February 2004, the second one in Daegu (Korea) in May 2005, and of this third Workshop. The first workshop provided very useful insights into the particular Digital Divide-related problems in Latin America. The second one focused on Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Russia and Africa. The discussions at and following the workshop taught us how better understanding, and cooperative work by the local and international communities can be effective in overcoming these problems. We intend to follow a similar format in the third workshop, and hope that similarly positive results will be obtained for the Eastern Europe region.
The missions of this Workshop are:
- to provide information about the present status, state-of-the-art and issues now and in the future in data-intensive Grid computing, inter-regional connectivity and Grid enabled analysis for high energy physics, and relate them to the key problem of the Digital Divide,
- to exchange information and to promote awareness of these issues in various regions, focusing on the Eastern Europe, Russia, Asia Pacific, Latin America and Africa,
- to develop approaches to reduce or eliminate the Digital Divide, and
- to help ensure that the basic requirements for global collaboration are met, related to all of these aspects.
This Workshop has as its main purpose to review the network and grid developments in various regions between the high energy physics groups in developing regions (for example, Central and Eastern Europe) and the laboratory sites of their experiments, as well as their collaborators in other nations to identify the key problems and to discuss the means of developing effective solutions.
Because of the pivotal nature of this problem, and its complexity, we are depending on the leaders of our field, such as yourself, and we sincerely hope that you will be able to take the time from your busy schedule to take part in the discussions.
The three-day Workshop format foreseen is as follows:
- Plenary sessions only with approximately 30 invited speakers
- Mornings: One or two one hour keynote talks (50’ + 10’ for discussion), followed by several 15-20’ presentations
- Afternoon: Talks of one hour and several 15-20’ presentations
We hope that this Workshop will be as successful as the previous ones, and we would like to count on your support and feedback. We would like to hear your comments on the range of topics to be covered, and we would like to have suggestions for speakers.
Finally we hope that you will be able to take part in the Workshop, and to motivate other people from your laboratory or institute to participate in this worldwide workshop.
Harvey B Newman at Caltech and Michal Turala at IFJ PAN Cracow
A series of reports by the SCIC to ICFA on the major networks used by high energy physics and on the Digital Divide, may be found