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The Real Monte Carlo Story April 14, 2008

Posted by gordonwatts in ATLAS, physics.

A few posts ago I poked fun at the idea that we’d be running 10 TeV Monte Carlo in ATLAS. Not Even Wrong linked to it. So, now I have to eat my words.

We will all be running the Monte Carlo. 🙂

Here is the deal. In an experiment like ATLAS we have a huge software base. Think of it like your favorite operating system – Windows, Mac OS, or Linux. Every now and then a new version is created. It is a huge undertaking each time. Lots of source code, lots of updates, lots of new functionality, lots of old things break, etc.

It is the same thing for us in particle physics. The software code to run these experiments, simulate Monte Carlo, reconstruct the data, and analyze the physics is in constant flux. Hopefully improving. Every now and then (say every 6 months or a year or so) all the recent changes are gathered up and released. Once the release is shown to work we let it loose on all of our computer farms with the express task of generating Monte Carlo for us.

This means we regenerate most of our Monte Carlo about once or twice a year. In ATLAS we are working on the version of the code we expect to run when data taking finally arrives (how exciting is that – when data arrives!!). If all goes well in a few months or so it will be in good enough shape to start producing Monte Carlo. And guess what. Whatever the LHC will initially turn on at – that is the energy we will produce the Monte Carlo.

So the whole experiment will be producing Monte Carlo at this energy, not just someone in a back room in secret. Oh well.



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