The potential and problems in using high performance computing in the Arts and Humanities: The Researching e-Science Analysis of Census Holdings (ReACH) Project

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    Abstract

    e-Science and high performance computing (HPC) have the potential to allow large datasets to be searched and analysed quickly, efficiently, and in complex and novel ways. Little application has been made of the processing power of grid technologies to humanities data, due to lack of available large-scale datasets, and little understanding of or access to e-Science technologies. The Researching e-Science Analysis of Census Holdings (ReACH) scoping study, an AHRC-funded e-science workshop series, was established to investigate the potential application of grid computing to a large dataset of interest to historians, humanists, digital consumers, and the general public: historical census records. Consisting of three one-day workshops held at UCL in Summer 2006, the workshop series brought together expertise across different domains to ascertain how useful, possible, or feasible it would be to analyse datasets from Ancestry and The National Archives using the HPC facilities available at UCL. This article details the academic, technical, managerial, and legal issues highlighted in the project when attempting to apply HPC to historical data sets. Additionally, generic issues facing humanities researchers attempting to utilise HPC technologies in their research are presented.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalDigital Humanities Quarterly
    Volume3
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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