The MicroBooNE collaboration operates a 170 ton Liquid Argon Time Projection Chamber (LAr TPC) located on the Booster neutrino beam line at Fermilab. The experiment first started collecting neutrino data in October 2015. MicroBooNE measures low-energy neutrino cross sections and investigates the low-energy excess observed by the MiniBooNE experiment. The detector also serves as a next step in a phased program towards the construction of massive kiloton scale LAr TPC detectors for future long-baseline neutrino physics (DUNE) and is the first detector in the short-baseline neutrino program at Fermilab.
In past LAr TPC experiments, event selection was not fully automated. Candidate event selection required scientists and researchers to hand-scan the images depicting detector data. One of the critical steps in advancing LAr TPC based experiments is the development of pattern recognition algorithms and software to analyze the recorded data. In a November 2015 article titled ‘A Neutrino in a Haystack: Brookhaven’s Contributions to the MicroBooNE Neutrino Experiment‘, Xin Qian said, “When you have an image, humans can actually process it pretty well, but to get a computer to achieve this level of pattern recognition is very difficult.” But with more than 30 million beam spills recorded to date, hand selection of events is untenable and fully automated event selection is needed to succeed.
Once algorithms are developed, they can be very CPU intensive. To accommodate this increased need for computing, MicroBooNE has been working to connect the computing at home institutions to the computing infrastructure located at Fermilab. With plans to incorporate computing from University of Manchester, University of Bern, Ohio Super Computing, and others, MicroBooNE will use these resources to reconstruct neutrino candidate events and increase the precision of theoretical predictions. These efforts have already paid dividends with a successful campaign at the University of Bern computing cluster to simulate an improved photon detector response after tuning with initial data. MicroBooNE is not limited to home institutions. It was the first Fermilab experiment to run applications at Clemson University’s OSG cluster through opportunistic access. The combination of Fermilab, university, and OSG opportunistic resources will play a critical role in the successful analysis of MicroBooNE’s data and the precision measurements of neutrino cross sections and searches for sterile neutrinos.
This is an excellent example of how combining computing clusters from numerous institutions can deliver the computational resources needed to make high precision measurements and drive future discoveries.
– Mike Kirby and Katherine Lato