CERN - Large Hadron Collider

Making Big Data work for you

From exploring the Big Bang at CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) to diagnosing dementia across Europe, UWE Bristol-designed CRISTAL software is giving scientists the power to understand and analyse more data than ever before.

The big question facing CERN scientists

What do you do when your research requires more information than any human or existing computer can possibly handle? That was the question facing the CERN scientists at the world’s largest particle physics laboratory when they designed the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

During construction and experiments, they needed to track the activity of every single one of the thousands of parts that made up the CMS experiment at the LHC– it was an enormous task. And the CERN scientists weren’t alone in their predicament - today’s increasingly powerful computers and international collaborations mean that scientists and businesses desperately need new ways to handle big data.

Answering real needs

The answer to CERN’s dilemma came from a group of researchers in the Faculty of Environment and Technology (FET) led by Professor Richard McClatchey. The team designed an innovative piece of computer software called CRISTAL – powerful technology that could fuse huge amounts of data from anywhere around the globe into information that could be managed, analysed, tracked, stored and, most importantly, understood.

“This was about designing complex software that could be used by real people, not just computer scientists,” says Professor McClatchey. “CRISTAL makes it possible to gather, track and share huge amounts of data from huge amounts of sources quickly and easily – it’s data and process management but on a massive scale. And it’s available as Open Source too!”

A solution to real world issues

The work of UWE Bristol’s researchers helped the scientists at CERN to successfully study the conditions of the Big Bang – one of the greatest scientific achievements of our lifetime. But this innovative software’s uses certainly don’t end there. Science, healthcare, engineering, accounting…CRISTAL is now a solution to real-world issues across many different industries. Doctors all over Europe now use it to analyse complex brain imaging data – unravelling the mysteries of Alzheimer’s disease.

Attracting attention across the globe

CRISTAL makes it possible for those working with complex systems and huge amounts of data to get meaningful results quickly and with less effort than ever before, so it’s little wonder that there’s been so much interest.

Professor McClatchey says: “The work carried out by our computer scientists at UWE Bristol attracts attention from industries across the globe and across disciplines. CRISTAL is a fantastic example of the difference our research makes in the real world."

Watch the film, 'CRISTAL Handling Evolution in Systems Design' and hear about how CRISTAL is being utilised today in research projects as well as commercially.

Back to top