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Programme Matter and the Universe

Contribution to Cross-programme Activities and Initiatives

Three areas of cross-topic and cross-programme activities have been identified, which will be described in the following sections: (i) Networking, (ii) Detectors and Accelerators, and (iii) Computing. Professional networking has been well established in the three Helmholtz Alliances that belong to the programme. The networking will be placed under the umbrella of the cross-programme network MUTLink. Joint work on detectors and accelerators links Matter and the Universe with Matter and Technologies; in fact there is a considerable overlap between the two topics in terms of personnel and actual work. Computing and data management for large-scale infrastructures is a joint activity that links the programme even to other Research Fields.



The cross-programme network MUTLink  

The Helmholtz Association aims at maintaining strong networks in all its respective communities and makes specific efforts to strengthen the ties to universities. The Helmholtz President's Networking and Initiative Fund provides a particularly effective instrument for the creation of networks with German universities, the so-called Helmholtz Alliances.


The aim of the alliances is to strengthen the cooperations, to maximally exploit synergies in the German research system and to profit from the very complementary expertise and possibilities of the Helmholtz centres and the universities. Fourteen alliances have been approved so far for a duration of nominally five years. Three alliances belong to Matter and the Universe:

The timeline of our three Alliances and the role of MUTLink is shown graphically in figure below. The plan is to preserve the community-specific networking activities of the three Alliances, involving the universities as much as possible. At the same time common aspects will be combined into a programme network for Matter and the Universe and Matter and Technologies called MUTLink. In this way we maximally profit from community-specific expertise and the complementarity of Helmholtz and universities but at the same time acknowledge the changes in the structure of the Matter. Within MUTLink we will organise topical workshops, foster mobility for the exchange of ideas and people, optimise the guest scientist visits that are organised in many nodes of the network and initiate project start-ups with relatively small but well-targeted funds.

 Timeline of Helmholtz Alliances and the Matter-Universe-Technology network MUTLink.
Timeline of Helmholtz Alliances and the Matter-Universe-Technology network MUTLink.
The initial funding periods are indicated by the solid black lines with end markers.



Cooperation with the programme Matter and Technologies  

The success of the research in Matter and the Universe has long been paced by the parallel development of detectors. The fundamental reason for the drive to more and more sophisticated detectors derives from the need to capture the rare event amongst a typically vastly higher background. Today, the large detectors at the LHC record events at unprecedented rates and with unprecedented resolution. The recognition of hard interactions at the LHC amongst a pile-up of 50 or more additional interactions with clean vertex separation is a triumph that only few physicists deemed possible a decade ago.


These successes have spawned an activity on its own that drives the developments of complex detector system for applications in other fields. The programme Matter and Technologies profits from the seeds that have been laid out predominantly in the programme topic Fundamental Particles and Forces and this topic will continue to advance the development of large-scale detector systems. Key properties of such detectors can be described as

  • high-granularity, high-resolution detectors clocked at 40 MHz-rate and beyond,
  • high-speed frame capture and data sparsification,
  •  on-board pattern recognition and reconstruction of the physics quantities such as particle momentum or photon energy and direction.

With such demanding goals, the cross-programme links between the programmes Matter and the Universe and Matter and Technologies are vital, there will always be New Physics demands arising in Matter and the Universe that necessitate new requirements for established detector systems. Conversely Matter and Technologies will exploit synergies between programmes, provide cutting-edge technologies and thus provide the detector systems for the coming generation of experiments.


The programme Matter and Technologies also hosts the research for advanced accelerator technologies, which has finally been established as a topic of its own. Naturally a variety of research aspects continue to be driven by the requirements in Matter and the Universe:

  • efficient acceleration,
  • staging of acceleration components to reach highest energies,
  • focusing of particle beams to obtain highest luminosities,
  • development of high-current, low emittance particle sources,
  • concepts and developments for new hadron storage rings and accelerators.

There are additional technological requirements such as the development of high-field superconducting magnets for an energy upgrade of the LHC. Such magnets will find their first application in the form of the focusing quadrupole triplets foreseen for the luminosity upgrade of the LHC. The development of fast ramping superconducting magnets for FAIR is another demanding research item as well as superconducting cw-linacs for the acceleration of heavy ions at highest intensity or of electrons for free-electron-laser (FEL) applications.


In both cases — development of detectors and of advanced accelerator technologies — the cross-programme approach between Matter and Technology and Matter and the Universe will lead to significant cross-fertilisation and will drive progress on both sides.



Data Management at Large-Scale Infrastructures  

Computing is a key element for all three programmes in the Research Field Matter. In each of them a large number of common questions are arising, specifically in the field of data analysis and in the management of large data volumes (Big Data). An imminent example is the volume of data in the Petabyte/year range from modern detectors in the programme From Matter to Materials and Life and from the LHC experiments.


In order to address the common computing issues across the programme boundaries, the interdisciplinary topic "Data Management at Large-Scale Infrastructures" was defined. The primary goal of this proposal is to combine forces from all relevant fields in Matter, ranging from life science to particle physics, and to share knowledge in this particular Research Field. With the HDRI (High Data Rate Initiative) in the programme PNI of the second funding period and the
development work in particle physics during the second funding period, a strong basis for these activities was created. This work will be continued with the HDRI in From Matter to Materials and Life, in particle physics and in addition in the new third programme of Matter, Matter and Technologies. An organisational framework will be setup to manage an intensive collaboration. The additional benefit will be in the preparation of joint proposals to funding agencies like the EU within Horizon 2020, the BMBF or others, which all currently consider the topic Big Data as very important.


The activity "Data Management for Large-Scale Infrastructures" is coordinated by the DESY IT group. All resources are allocated within the programmes directly. Through this cross-programme topic, Matter will contribute solutions to and will strongly cooperate with the LSDMA (Large-Scale Data Management and Analysis) initiative that spans all Helmholtz Research Fields; it is explained in the next section.



Large-Scale Data Management and Analysis

The objective of the cross-programme initiative and portfolio extension LSDMA is to address the challenge of Big Data in science by establishing a network of knowledge. Scientists from application domains, data scientists, Ph.D. researchers, informatics expert as well as practitioners are enabled to exchange methods, algorithms, tools, services, knowledge, or best practices, to coordinate joint research & development efforts or to develop new ideas for future projects and endeavours. Simply put: a research bridge across all Helmholtz Research Fields and programmes is established concerning data-intensive science.


This research bridge will address the whole data life cycle of scientific data. Handling scientific data starts with the acquisition of raw data, initial analysis, filtering and possible reduction close to the source followed by its ingest in the data management system. It continues with the preprocessing and analysis of derived data to extract new scientific insights and knowledge, which are then published and taught to young students generating new knowledge in society and also new opportunities for industrial uptake. This must be accompanied with the long-term preservation and archival of primary and derived data as supplementary material in publications and for re-use in future research. Besides data-life-cycle management and data analysis, aspects of metadata, data structures and formats, security, privacy, visualisation, federated storage and access as well as generic algorithms and methods must be addressed in all steps of the data life cycle.


The set of researchers participating in this research bridge should in principle not be limited to the Helmholtz Association. The cross-programme initiative can be beneficial for researchers and data scientists from outside Helmholtz to connect to this network of knowledge, empowering the Helmholtz Association to become a motor for Big Data in Germany, Europe and worldwide.


The cross-programme initiative spans the PoF 3 programmes Supercomputing & Big Data and Biointerfaces in Technology and Medicine of the Research Field Key Technologies, the complete Research Field Matter with the PoF 3 programmes Matter and the Universe, From Matter to Materials and Life and Matter and Technologies and the PoF 3 programmes Storage and Crosslinked Infrastructures and Energy Efficiency, Materials and Resources of the Research Field Energy. Further associated programmes are GeoSystems: the Changing Earth of the Research Field Earth and Environment and Fusion of the Research Field Energy.