[Beowulf] [EXTERNAL] Re: Introduction and question

Lux, Jim (337K) james.p.lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Fri Mar 22 10:50:49 PDT 2019

This is somewhat off topic for the list, but what you are describing is a phenomenon known as “signaling” – that is, the possession of the degree isn’t strictly required for the task at hand (an autodidact could potentially do it), but that possession is a signal of other characteristics which are deemed desirable.

And yes, most well-known folks in the “computer science” business up to around 1980 (well known in 1970 or 1980, I mean) most likely did not have a degree in CS, because they weren’t very many CS programs.  It is true that most had degrees in Math, Physics, Engineering though.

From: Beowulf <beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org> on behalf of "beowulf at beowulf.org" <beowulf at beowulf.org>
Reply-To: Prentice Bisbal <pbisbal at pppl.gov>
Date: Thursday, March 21, 2019 at 1:32 PM
To: "beowulf at beowulf.org" <beowulf at beowulf.org>
Subject: [EXTERNAL] Re: [Beowulf] Introduction and question

Thanks for sharing this. I was recently asked for my input in a job description for a new position. They wanted to make the education requirements a minimum of a BS in Math, Physics, Engineering, or CS. I recommended that they DO NOT list any education requirements for this position, because most of the skills they were looking for (git, make files, GNU autoconf, CMake, etc.), are not taught in any college curriculum I know of, so a formal education is no guarantee of those skills. and some of the best sys admins and programmers I ever met  had no formal education in STEM, or at all.

I was overruled.

On 3/21/19 5:08 AM, Benson Muite wrote:

"Many employers look for people who studied humanities and learned IT by themselves, for their wider appreciation of human values."

Mark Burgess


On 2/23/19 4:30 PM, Will Dennis wrote:
Hi folks,

I thought I’d give a brief introduction, and see if this list is a good fit for my questions that I have about my HPC-“ish” infrastructure...

I am a ~30yr sysadmin (“jack-of-all-trades” type), completely self-taught (B.A. is in English, that’s why I’m a sysadmin :-P) and have ended up working at an industrial research lab for a large multi-national IT company (http://www.nec-labs.com). In our lab we have many research groups (as detailed on the aforementioned website) and a few of them are now using “HPC” technologies like Slurm, and I’ve become the lead admin for these groups. Having no prior background in this realm, I’m learning as fast as I can go :)

Our “clusters” are collections of 5-30 servers, all collections bought over years and therefore heterogeneous hardware, all with locally-installed OS (i.e. not trad head-node with PXE-booted diskless minions) which is as carefully controlled as I can make it via standard OS install via Cobbler templates, and then further configured via config management (we use Ansible.) Networking is basic 10GbE between nodes (we do have Infiniband availability on one cluster, but it’s fell into disuse now since the project that has required it has ended.) Storage is one or more traditional NFS servers (some use ZFS, some not.) We have within the past few years adopted Slurm WLM for a job-scheduling system on top of these collections, and now are up to three different Slurm clusters, with I believe a fourth on the way.

My first question for this list is basically “do I belong here?” I feel there’s a lot of HPC concepts it would be good for me to learn, so as I can improve the various research group’s computing environments, but not sure if this list is for much larger “true HPC” environments, or would be a good fit for a “HPC n00b” like me...

Thanks for reading, and let me know your opinions :)



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