Supercomputer Helps Office Meet Research Demands
System Accelerates Processing of Data Kept at Texas Schools Project
Researchers using data provided by the Texas Schools Project at UT Dallas work with hundreds of thousands – and sometimes millions – of observations, or individual pieces of data.
The data once took the office’s computers hours or even days to analyze, but a new supercomputer gets the job done in half the time.
“I was blown away by its speed,” said Devora Davis, a visiting researcher from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes. She typically spends 8-16 hours running a procedure to create a data set for analysis. The new Cray CX1 supercomputer leaves Davis more time to analyze results and draw conclusions.
“The number of researchers using our data is growing tremendously as is the size of their research jobs.” said Leigh Hausman, Texas Schools Project computer technologist. “Additionally, we’re continuing to receive incredible amounts of data from various state agencies that has to be stored on site. Finally, more of our researchers want to do more complex analysis on larger data sets, which consumes more server resources. Our old server was only marginally sufficient to meet our current needs and certainly would not have been able to meet our needs as we grow.”
TSP supports research to improve academic achievement, teacher effectiveness, and the labor market outcomes of students in Texas and the nation. Improving the quality of education provided to low-income and minority students has been a particular focus of TSP.
TSP is part of UT Dallas’ School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.
The Texas Schools Project at UT Dallas works with universities throughout the country to analyze policy-related questions that benefit students nationwide. The project was designated a State of Texas Education Research Center in 2006 and maintains an extensive source of data on Texas students from pre-kindergarten through college.