NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery Since 1974

Case Studies

The core of the NERSC requirements workshops are the case studies created by the participants.  A case study is a narrative that includes the following:

  • Summary and Scientific Objectives: a brief description of scientifc goals, importance of the research, and how the science problems drive the computational work; should be written at NERSC and program manager level, not at journal publication level;
  • Methods of Solution: description of codes/algorithms/methods used;
  • HPC Requirements: a description of primary parameters that define simulation size/length, a statement of computational resources required to meet the science needs today, and a description of how all of this may change in the near future.  Note that if you are a NERSC PI this is similar to estimating requirements in an ERCAP request but looking further into the future (since ERCAP is for a single year out).
  • Computational and Storage Requirements Summary: the HPC requirements in tabular form;
  • Support Services and Software: "soft" requirements from NERSC; can include software such as libraries, any operating system requirements, workflow, queues, consulting, training, visualization, tools, and the like;
  • Emerging HPC Architectures and Programming Models: a statement of how the project is currently dealing with, or expecting to deal with, many/multi-core systems and/or heterogeneous computing architectures such as General Purpose Graphical Processing Units (GPGPUs) and any requirements from NERSC for this.


Note that in this and other documents we may use the term "computing requirements" to mean the full complement of computational science needs, including compute cycles, storage, data services, analysis, support services, visualization, and communications.

Before the Meeting

Please fill out a case study worksheet at least one week before the meeting. All attendees should fill out a worksheet, unless two participants are representing the same specific project, in which case only one worksheet is required. You have two options:

Please fill out these worksheets considering the needs of your primary project. If your project consists of a collection of related sub-projects or uses many codes, please consider the sum of their requirements (for collective items like Hours Needed) or the most extreme (for items like Memory Required).

If you have been asked to present a case study at the meeting, please prepare a presentation as described in the next section. NERSC staff, DOE program managers, and workshop participants decide how many case studies will be needed and which science areas are included.

At the Meeting

The workshop itself consists of a series of discussions centered around the case studies.  The discussions are led by one or two participants via a short presentation using the powerpoint template below but all scientists at the workshop participate in the discussions.

After the Meeting

After the workshop participants will be responsible for writing the case studies that will comprise the workshop final report.

We strongly recommend that participants peruse case studies from previous workshops to get an idea of the format, scope, and content involved.  A "Word" template for the case study is available below.

Case Studies for Final Report

Lattice Quantum Chromodynamics: Robert Edwards, Martin Savage, Chip Watson

Ab initio Nuclear Structure Calculations: James Vary, Pieter Maris, Esmond Ng

Radiative Transfer of Astrophysical Explosions, Daniel Kasen

:Stellar Explosions in Three Dimensions, Tomasz Plewa


  • Case-Study-Sample.doc | Word document
    For the written report, to be completed after the workshop.
  • PowerpointTemplate.ppt | unknown
    To be used for presentations given at the workshop.
  • template.doc | Word document
    Please complete the online worksheet or download and fill out this case study worksheet and return to at least one week before the workshop.