In 2026, the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland will begin its next phase, probing the mysteries of the universe through collisions of its most intense beams to date. But each year, the High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC) will generate billions of gigabytes of data—up to 100 times more data than was required to discover the Higgs boson.
Meeting those immense data demands and enabling new discoveries will require innovative software and computing approaches for data analysis, organization and management. The new $25 million Institute for Research and Innovation in Software for High-Energy Physics, or IRIS-HEP, will meet these challenges by gathering researchers from 17 U.S. universities, including the University of Chicago.
Driven primarily by the HL-LHC, over the next five years the National Science Foundation-funded IRIS-HEP will be an active center for software R&D in areas of innovative algorithms, data analysis platforms, and data organization, management and access systems. Led by Princeton University, the group includes researchers from UChicago’s Enrico Fermi Institute and Department of Computer Science that will help create the tools needed to fulfill the scientific potential of these unprecedented experiments.
“The computing grid built for the LHC enabled thousands of researchers around the globe collaborate to make discoveries at the high-energy frontier of particle physics,” said Robert W. Gardner, a research professor in the Enrico Fermi Institute and physicist on the ATLAS experiment at CERN. “IRIS-HEP will transform this cyberinfrastructure with new services for computing and analytics which address not only the extreme scale of the HL-LHC data sets but also their complexity. New algorithms and data analysis systems better suited to the high-performance processors and data storage systems of the future will need to be developed."
Since its first run in 2009, the Large Hadron Collider has contributed important discoveries to our understanding of the building blocks of the universe, culminating in the confirmation of the Higgs boson in 2012. The next phase of the LHC aims to go beyond the Standard Model of particle physics, seeking new knowledge about dark matter and other rare processes.
To do so, CERN has started an upgrade to increase the luminosity of the LHC beam by a factor of 10, with a target of 2026 for completion. Experiments on this enhanced instrument will probe deeper into the nature of matter than ever before, but also will produce data that far exceeds current computational resources. Experts estimate that HL-LHC runs will record ten times more events than currently possible, generate 100 times the data, and require 20 times more storage and ten times today’s computer resources to analyze the results.