Latin Americans gather in Mexico City to discuss computing in high-energy physics

Mexico City is a fantastic venue for a physicist gathering. Magnificent colonial buildings dating from the 1500s, impressive archeological sites, a thriving art scene, authentic Mexican cuisine and wonderful hosts made the Centro Histórico in the former capital of the Mexica Empire the perfect setting for the first Latin American Workshop on Software and Computing Challenges in High-Energy Particle Physics, held Nov. 20-22, 2019.

The LAWSCHEP 2019 workshop brought together Latin American high-energy physicists and computer scientists to discuss opportunities for collaboration in software and computing, which we refer to as S&C, within the region and with the international community. The interest of Latin America in S&C applications to high-energy physics has a long history but acquired new dimensions in view of the challenges facing the experimental programs planned for the current decade and beyond.

The participants of the LAWSCHEP 2019 workshop met in Mexico City. Photo: LAWSCHEP local organizing committee

Future experiments require large investments in detector hardware, either to build new facilities and experiments or to upgrade existing ones. They need commensurate investment in S&C R&D toward solutions to manage, process and analyze the shear amounts of experimental and simulated data to be acquired and produced.

The workshop agenda focused on the material recently summarized in “A Roadmap for HEP Software and Computing R&D for the 2020s.” This community paper includes ideas to address the needs of future experiments in the areas of physics and detector simulation, event reconstruction, data storage, transfer and analysis. Solutions will require exploring novel software paradigms and advanced algorithmic techniques, efficient use of accelerators in high-performance computing, as well as methods for artificial intelligence and data science.

LAWSCHEP 2019 was attended by colleagues from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru, as well as participants from the U.S. and Europe. We also heard about work and interests from teams in Chile, Paraguay and Venezuela. Fermilab was represented by physicists and computer scientists from the Scientific Computing Division and the Quantum Institute. Our laboratory had a leading role in the scientific planning of the event, which was locally organized by Jesús Martínez Castro, a professor at the National Polytechnic University in Mexico City. In addition to the reports by country or region, we heard about success stories of collaboration, in many cases with our laboratory. No event with these characteristics would be complete without a poster session for students to disseminate their work through informal conversations with more senior researches, and LAWSCHEP was no exception. We dedicated the afternoon of the last day to start editing a collaborative document that lists the S&C areas of strength and common interest within Latin America, the associated technologies and skills, concrete project ideas, opportunities for integration of Latin American researchers to international community organizations such as the HEP Software Foundation, as well as potential means to communicate and encourage collaboration within the different institutes.

Nothing better than a Friday night dinner at the terrace of restaurant Primer Cuadro, overlooking the historic Plaza de la Constitución (known as Zócalo), to forge the sense of camaraderie necessary to make LAWSCHEP the starting point of a successful journey. Paraphrasing the famous Mexican antihero, El Chapulín Colorado, “siganme(nos) los buenos.”

V. Daniel Elvira is a Fermilab scientist and one of the co-organizers of the meeting.