About the CCPs

The CCPs enrich UK computational science and engineering research in various ways. They provide a software infrastructure on which important individual research projects can be built. They support both the R&D and exploitation phases of computational research projects. They ensure the development of software which makes optimum use of the whole range of hardware available to the scientific community, from the desktop to the most powerful national supercomputing facilities. The training activities of CCPs have been outstandingly successful, benefiting several hundred students and post-doctorates each year.

The main activities of the CCPs are to:

  • Carry out flagship code development projects
  • Maintain and distribute code libraries

Flagship projects represent innovative software developments at the leading edge of a CCP.s area of science or engineering. They normally last for three years and may support a PDRA associated with the project. At the end of a flagship project, the resulting software usually becomes part of the code library. CCPs maintain, distribute and develop the new code according to demand from member and user research programmes.

This flagship model suits most CCPs. It provides a mechanism for responding to advances in the appropriate subject area and maintains the interest of participating staff in cutting-edge research. Other CCPs, especially those involved closely with experimental research (CCP4, CCPN), focus more on the collation, standardisation, and development of data analysis codes. Here, it is vital to keep pace with rapid developments in instrumentation.

The collaborative approach makes the community almost uniquely able to adapt and respond to developments in computer science, information technology and hardware. One of the strengths of the scheme is that the focus of each CCP has evolved to maintain international scientific topicality and leadership within its community. The CCPs are increasingly represented in science and engineering as advances in computational techniques and hardware make it feasible to tackle problems of real practical significance.

Each CCP has a Chair and a Working Group, which sets the scientific agenda, decides the work programme and monitors progress. Currently, more than 300 groups participate in the CCPs, including several outside the UK and in industrial research. There are probably more than 1,000 individual researchers and research students in the UK supported by CCPs. The CCP programmes produce more than 500 papers per year. About 12% of these are in the hot news category (Nature, Science, Physical Review Letters, among others).

CCPs have a high profile overseas. Many have links with European networks or programmes. The CCP Steering Panel includes international scientists. CCPs also provide opportunities for links with foreign institutions and scientists. CCPs maintain high visibility to industrial researchers by publicising their software, meetings, training and other activities, and by including industrial members on Working Groups and on the Steering Panel. The CCPs are funded competitively through regular Research Council grants. Since 1978, they have also benefited from support by staff at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, funded via an agreement with the Research Councils. Such staff provide expert technical and administrative support, perform many of the functions outlined above, and are frequently involved in large-scale program development projects.

The whole programme is overseen by the CCP Steering Panel, under the current chairĀ of Mark Savill. The Steering Panel looks actively at areas for co-working between CCPs; joint meetings, workshops and training events are common.

For further information about the CCPs, please contact Tom Griffin at STFC.