Tuesdays tools and techniques for HPC: Real-life compute cluster workflows

Improve your cluster workflows! You’ve had a basic course on working with a cluster - but what do people actually do? This course shows practical examples and tips which may help you, but aren’t usually covered in either basic or advanced courses.

We won’t go so deep into each topic that you know everything about it, but you learn what is possible, see some examples, and know where to follow up on the tools that are right for you. The format is designed to be “fireside chat with experts”, a combination of demos, type-along, and independent exercises. You can engage at different levels, depending on your interest.


  • Basic HPC usage course (if you don’t have, many of the things we talk about won’t make sense, but you might pick up something anyway).

  • A bit of experience using a HPC cluster (technically optional, but will allow you to engage with the material at a deeper level).

  • Access to some HPC computer cluster to do most exercises. (Slurm-based, but most are these days). (If you don’t have, you can’t do all exercises - but still might learn something!)

Episodes and timing

15 min

Job scheduling and Slurm basics

15 min

How to choose the number of cores by timing a series of runs

15 min

Measuring and choosing the right amount of memory

5 min


15 min


50 min

I/O Best Practices

Who is the course for?

This course is for people using clusters or other larger computing resources. It’s not a basic course, but also not extremely advanced. It lets you see some examples and know what people actually do, and then you can follow up with more reading, courses, or direct help later on.

Some learner personas:

  • You’ve just taken a basic HPC course, and while you mostly understand how the basic pieces work, you are left wondering “How does this all fit together? How do people combine all of these tools into an actual whole workflow?”.

    You care about some real examples and things you can use right now, but wouldn’t mind seeing some advanced or out-of-scope stuff as long as you don’t have to spend too much mental effort on it.

    You’ll probably do the more basic exercises and watch the rest as a demo until you come back to it later (if needed).

  • You’ve been using the cluster for a while and doing your work just fine - or so you think. It works well, but you know there must be some other tricks out there that can make your life (if not work) even better.

    You’ll probably attend and do the more advanced exercises, while passively watching some of the more basic demos.


This course is a collaboration between ~10 different instructors.