Africa@home: AIMS workshop on Volunteer Computing

The African Institute for Matematical Sciences (AIMS) is a self-contained residential centre with excellent computer, library and lecturing facilities; photo © V. Krebs
The African Institute for Matematical Sciences (AIMS) is a self-contained residential centre with excellent computer, library and lecturing facilities; photo © V. Krebs

Project at a glance

Dates and Place

16 - 22 July 2007, Muizenberg (Cape Province), South Africa
AIMS

Organizers

Organised and sponsored by the Africa@home partnership.

Project details

The AIMS workshop on Volunteer Computing for Africa will introduce participants to state-of-the-art open source software technologies behind distributed computing and cyber-volunteerism on the Internet. Participants will gain hands-on experience with these technologies, so that they can harness the power of volunteer computers worldwide for their own research or to support research of their colleagues in universities and research labs across Africa. Volunteer computing is a new and rapidly growing trend that can help in efforts  to tackle some of the major humanitarian challenges faced by Africa, and can also bridge the digital divide by putting African researchers at the centre of international humanitarian projects. 

The workshop will focus on the most popular platform for volunteer computing today, BOINC, which stands for Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing. BOINC allows volunteer computers in homes and offices to run computer-intensive simulation programs such as MalariaControl.net, developed by researchers at the Swiss Tropical Institute. This was made possible through the multi-stakeholder partnership called Africa@home, which involves the CERN, the University of Geneva, the World Health Organization, several African academic institutions, the Swiss Tropical Institute, ICVolunteers and Informaticiens sans frontières (ISF), with the support of the Geneva International Academic Network.

The first phase of Africa@home (2005 and 2006) was an opportunity to help the Swiss Tropical Institute obtain the needed computer power to run their malaria modelling program called MalariaControl.net.

Since day one of the Africa@home project, it has involved African researchers in the different aspects of the project, aiming to ultimately build poles of expertise in different parts of Africa (involving to date cyber-volunteers from Mali, Senegal, South Africa, Cameroon, Centre Afrique, Tanzania, Spain and Switzerland).

The objective of the second phase of Africa@home is to use the BOINC technology for other computer applications, such as those linked to research about HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

It is in this context that a workshop will be organized at AIMS (African Institute for Matematical Sciences) in Muizenberg (Cape Province), from 16 to 22 July 2007.

Workshop Program

  • Monday 16 July: Introduction to the general aspects of volunteer computing, relevance to different scientific tasks, and client side of volunteer computing
  • Tuesday 17 July: Objective is for participants to familiarise themselves with a number of open source components used to run volunteer computing servers
  • Wednesday 18 July: Objective is step by step walk through of building client and server, including typical debugging issues
  • Thursday 19 July: Analyse and plan porting of a new project to volunteer computing
  • Friday 20 July: Review and test knowledge acquired during workshop, get feedback on suitability of workshop format, discuss next steps for participants.
  • Sat-Sun 21-22 July: Debriefing with AIMS, planning of future activities with AIMS, SACEMA and other Africa@home partners.

Role of ICVolunteers

Recruitment and selection of workshop participants and cyber-volunteers, onsite logistics of the workshop.



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