Software tool

A software tool designed by academics at Monash University is being used in the UK to help develop cancer treatments and improve aircraft engine design.

Nimrod/G, developed by Professor David Abramson in the School of Computer Science and Software Engineering and the CRC for Enterprise Distributed Systems, enables users to harness many computers, often distributed around the world, for large-scale simulations. Nimrod/G breaks these large problems into smaller tasks that can be scheduled for execution at different locations.

The software is being used, in collaboration with the Welsh e-Science centre and Velindre Hospital, both in Cardiff, to optimise research into X-ray cancer treatment.

A computer model of an X-ray beam is being used to help focus the beam so it maximizes the elimination of tumours while minimising damage to healthy surrounding tissue.

In a radically different application, Cranfield and Cambridge Universities are using the Nimrod/G technology to improve the design of aircraft engines. The software is being used to develop optimal blade design for maximum engine output while minimising fuel consumption, pollution and noise.

The projects are part of a collaboration with the UK’s e-Science program. The collaboration has been funded by the Department of Education, Science and Training, and aims to give Australian researchers access to global research and technology.

The two UK collaborations sprang out of the DEST program.

Monash researchers ran a workshop on Nimrod/G in Cardiff in June to educate scientists about the potential uses of the technology. The workshop attracted scientists from around the UK and Europe.

Professor Abramson said the software was generic enough to be used in various applications and had already been applied to problems ranging from quantum chemistry to public health policy.

“We add the ability to harness distributed computers, allowing more realistic simulations,” he said. “This adds value to the work of scientists because they can focus on their science while we provide the grid computing systems,” he said.