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Prof. Bruce Mellado


“The Discovery of the Higgs boson and the Big Data problem”

Prof. Bruce Mellado – Director of the High throughout electronics laboratory at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Johannesburg, South Africa



The discovery of the Higgs boson by experiments at the Large Hadron Collider is strongly connected with the Big Data problem. The Large Hadron Collider collides clouds of protons at a rate of 40 MHz. Every time two clouds of protons go through each other tens of proton-proton collisions take place. This leads to data flows of the order of petabytes per second and experiment. Fast real-time decisions are made to strongly reduce data flows that can be shipped to long-term storage for off-line processing. Data in storage has reached the Exabyte scale. Implemented solutions for these challenges in real-time data processing, distributed and cloud computing will be reviewed. Prospects for the upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider in the 20s will also be discussed.

Thursday 8 February 2018 2:20 pm – 3:00 pm


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bruce-melladoPhD from Columbia University, Bruce Mellado, a Personal Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, is the group leader of the High-energy physics group and the director of the high-throughput electronics lab at the School of Physics.

Prof. Mellado is an expert on the Higgs boson – a sub-atomic particle that is thought to give matter its mass – and was a leading participant in its discovery that was announced in 2012 and led to the Nobel Prize in Physics being awarded in 2013 to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs.

The upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider and the study of the Higgs boson particle require a magnitude increase of data flows. It is for this reason that Prof. Mellado is passionate about the Massive Affordable Computing (MAC) project. The MAC project is connected to the research needs of particle physics and that is to find a technological way to solve the problem of Big Data. We have to do that in a way that is affordable to the country and that can generate spin-offs that will help us to develop cheap computers for South Africa.

He introduced the classification of the Higgs boson according to the multiplicity of quarks and gluons. This methodology has become standard in Higgs boson searches and played an important role in the announcement of the discovery. Several of his papers have been cited by the ATLAS experiment at CERN, including novel ideas that were used for the discovery of the particle.

Prof Mellado is the recipient of several fellowships and awards, the most important of which are:

Finalist TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Research and its outputs (2017)
Most highly cited researcher Award of the University of the Witwatersrand (2015-2017)
First Time Inventor Award by the University of the Witwatersrand (2014)
Internationally Acclaimed Researcher by the NRF (2013)
APS-IUSSTF Professorship Award in Physics (2011)

Research interests: Higgs boson physics. Physics beyond the standard model. High throughput electronics. Grid computing.

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