ALMA signs agreement with one of Europe's most prestigious computer research centers

ALMA signs agreement with one of Europe's most prestigious computer research centers

14 December, 2011 / Read time: 3 minutes

ALMA, the world's most powerful radio telescope, and France's National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA), one of Europe's leading research centers in the fields of computer science and applied mathematics, have signed a collaboration agreement to improve the interface between computers and humans. This agreement will greatly benefit ALMA operations.

After two years of joint work between ALMA's European computing group at the European Southern Observatory (ESO)[1] and INRIA, the two organizations will expand their cooperation and add Chilean entities to the project. This new phase of the collaboration between these world-renowned institutions will initially focus on design of the ALMA Control Room in order to make its operations more efficient. The partnership will also extend to the deployment of the array's monitoring data and functioning.

“This allows us to further strengthen our collaboration, not just with European information science centers but also with associated Chilean centers,” said Jorge Ibsen, ALMA's Head of Department of Computing.

INRIA will begin working in Chile in 2012, in association with a consortium of nine Chilean universities known as the Communication and Information Research and Innovation Center (Investigación e Innovación en Comunicación e Informática, or CIRIC). The agreement, signed on November 22 in the presence of Chile's Economy Minister, Pablo Longueira, and the Executive Vice President of CORFO (the Chilean development agency), Hernán Cheyre, will be co-financed by CORFO, INRIA and the partner universities. The total project funding is EUR 30 million over 10 years, for technological development that is applicable to Chilean industry.

As part of the agreement between ALMA and INRIA, a seminar on participatory design was led by Emmanuel Pietriga, an INRIA researcher who previously worked at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyMIT and the Xerox Research Center in Europe. The purpose of the seminar was to define, in detail, the areas to be the focus of future collaboration.


ALMA's Director, Thijs de Graauw and the Chairman and CEO of INRIA, Michel Cosnard sign the agreement.

The ESO is in charge of construction and operation of ALMA on behalf of Europe. ALMA is an association between Europe, North America and East Asia, in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) represents North America and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) represents East Asia. The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides joint leadership and administration of ALMA's construction, verification and operations.