Computational Resources

Getting Started

Datasets Available

 

Important Updates Effective July 2012

Social Sciences Computing Services announces changes in storage quotas and space rental costs. In addition, SSCS will launch larger computational resources to meet the evolving needs of our researchers:

Server Space Quotas and Pricing: Effective July 1, the storage quotas for SSCS-administered departmental servers will increase with additional space rental costs being halved. Faculty are eligible for 500GB personal home directory storage space, and 1 TB Lab storage space for large enterprises. Non-Faculty are eligible for 100GB personal home directory storage. For all users, additional storage rental costs, beginning 7/1/2012, will be $250 per Terabyte (TB) per year, or $0.50 per Gigabyte (GB) per year. All requests or comments regarding storage quotas may be directed to the SSCS Server Support Group at ssc-server-support@lists.uchicago.edu.

GIS Collaboratory: SSCS will begin beta testing a newly created GIS Collaboratory. Any faculty members who would like to participate should contact Todd Schuble (tschuble@uchicago.edu), GIS Manager for SSCS.  The GIS Collaboratory is designed to allow users with limited experience with GIS and/or spatial analysis to upload their data to the site and analyze it in a map environment along with spatial-enabled secondary datasets (census data, public health data, local government data layers, etc.). The interactive web-based GIS allows faculty to work collaboratively with other's data in a secure environment. For more information about becoming a beta tester, please contact Todd Schuble.

MATLAB Distributed Computing Service: SSCS constructed a Matlab DCS Cluster to meet the growing computing needs of our researchers. Since January, beta testers from multiple departments in the Division have used Matlab's Parallel Computing Toolkit to optimize routines involving FFTs, Monte Carlo simulations, matrix computations, and to speed up iterations through homogenous datasets.  The cluster will be expanded with new hardware allowing access to a Matlab DCS pool of 128 concurrent workers. This is the only Matlab DCS on campus, and SSCS is pleased to make this advancement available to you starting in July 2012. 

In addition to the Matlab cluster, SSCS deployed an 80-core Linux server with 1TB of RAM named Acropolis. This resource will be available to researchers requiring a large-scale environment for monolithic tasks such as running very large Stata programs.  Both of these systems will be made available for general use in July. Researchers interested in running tasks on the Cluster or Acropolis should email ssc-server-support@lists.uchicago.edu.  More information on the Matlab DCS system and the Parallel Computing Toolbox can found here: http://www.mathworks.com/products/distriben/description2.html. We are currently beta testing a GPU system and will likely make it available during Summer Quarter. This system will be capable of running Matlab, Fortran, and CUDA. If you are interested in being notified about development regarding our GPU system please email the ssc-server-support@lists.uchicago.edu forum.

A new entity, The Research Computing Center (RCC), within the Office of the Vice President for Research and National Laboratories, provides a continuum of research computing services to the University of Chicago community. These services include:

  1. Access to a computing infrastructure of core hardware, software, system administration, and technical user support,
  2. Visualization services
  3. Workshops and training
  4. One-on-one consulting with experienced computational scientists regarding the use and integration of computing into UChicago research projects.

To learn more about RCC or sign up for the workshop mailing list go to http://rcc.uchicago.edu or send an email to rcc@uchicago.edu.


I. Computational Resources

a. Social Sciences Computing Services (SSCS):

Social Sciences Computing Services consults with Economics Faculty in regard to Desktop Support, Server Support, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Data Archival. The SSCS website offers a wealth of information about the computing environment offered to social sciences faculty, including: FAQs, News, Contact Information, Service Requests, and Guidelines.

Desktop Support Vincent Johnson ssrbcomputing@lists.uchicago.edu (773) 795-6226
Server Support John Lodder ssc-server-support@lists.uchicago.edu (773) 702-4938
GIS   gis@lists.uchicago.edu (773) 702-4225
Data Archive   ssc-data-archive@lists.uchicago.edu (773) 702-5591

 

b. Information Technology Services (IT Services):

 

Information Technology Services manages the computer and telephone networks on campus, as well as numerous services such as email and personal web pages.  Please download and review their orientation materials.

ITS Support Full Contact List itservices@uchicago.edu (773) 834-8324

 

c. Economic Research Center (ERC):

 

The Economics Research Center was developed at the University of Chicago in 2001 to support basic empirical research in economics at Chicago directed toward policy problems. The Center was founded with aims to support empirical and quantitative research in economics, to systematically publicize research, and to support conferences on major public policy questions for faculty, students, and visitors.

Associate Director Alison Baulos abaulos@uchicago.edu (773) 834-0761

 

d. Institute for Computational Economics (ICE):

 

The Institute for Computational Economics disseminates computational methods in Computer Science useful in the solution of economic models. Applicants must be a graduate student or post-doctoral scholar working in a relevant academic field.

 

e. Computation Institute (CI):

 

The Computation Institute was established in 2000 as a joint initiative between The University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory to advance science through innovative computational approaches. Incoming faculty can acquire resources and consultation from the CI in support of their computational research.

Computation Institute Full Contact List info@ci.uchicago.edu (773) 834-6812

 

f. Umbrella Initiative:

 

The Umbrella Initiative was put together as an organization dedicated to informing incoming faculty about the resources available to them. The Umbrella Initiative also offers an Annual Faculty Technology Day featuring technology briefings and consultations at the beginning of the school year; faculty can meet representatives from ITS service groups, SSCS, and the Libraries.

Umbrella Initiative  umbrella@uchicago.edu    

 

g. Research Computing Center:

 

The Research Computing Center (RCC) is a new entity within the Office of the Vice President for Research and National Laboratories which provides a continuum of research computing services to the University of Chicago community. These services include:

  1. Access to a computing infrastructure of core hardware, software, system administration, and technical user support,
  2. Visualization services
  3. Workshops and training
  4. One-on-one consulting with experienced computational scientists regarding the use and integration of computing into UChicago research projects.

To learn more about RCC or sign up for the workshop mailing list go to http://rcc.uchicago.edu.

Research Computing Center  rcc@uchicago.edu    

 

h. Other Resources:

 

Other useful websites include:

Employee Self Service: View benefits and payroll information
GEMS: Manage business expenses through the University's corporate credit card

 

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II. Getting Started

The following information is provided to new faculty within the Department of Economics in order to familiarize them with the department’s IT resources. 

a. Purchasing New Hardware:

To purchase a new computer and software packages, begin by reviewing the University of Chicago’s Solution Center website. This site is updated regularly and contains the latest price listings for a wide variety of computers, printers and popular software along with standard computer bundles recommended by ITS staff. 

If you wish to purchase a new computer from an alternative vendor (ex. ordering directly online), special permission (for all purchases over $500 dollars) must be requested through the Social Sciences Local Business Center. You must have your support staff place a request and gain approval through Melissa Serrano at mserrano@uchicago.edu, Extension: 4-8211.

We suggest you contact the department’s desktop support staff for recommendations for your unique needs. Please contact: Vincent Johnson, Rosenwald 325 B, Extension 5-6226, ssrbcomputing@lists.uchicago.edu. Ideally, these decisions would be made before your arrival.
 

b. Purchasing New Software:

To purchase new software, please consult the Site Licensing website. This website maintains a list of software available at a discounted licensing fee to faculty members; some basic software heavily utilized by economists: Microsoft Office, MATLAB, STATA, SAS, Mathematica, and Scientific Word. However, the Site Licensing website does not include information regarding additional applications (e.g., AMPL, KNITRO, MATLAB toolboxes, etc.) available on the departmental server (ATHENSX). Be sure to consult with the department’s Server Support Administrator, John Lodder, before making any decisions regarding software purchases. John Lodder may be contacted at: Rosenwald 325 B, Extension 2-4938, ssc-server-support@lists.uchicago.edu.

Once you have decided on what hardware and software to purchase, the department’s desktop support staff will coordinate with the department’s financial administrators to place the order.  Additionally, desktop support will set up your new system along with any peripheral devices (printer, scanner, external storage devices, etc.) and install any licensed or purchased software.
 

c. Getting Connected:

Information Technology Services is the central computing group at the university. ITS, in part, provides for voice services, network services, collaborative tools, and instructional computing. Contact ITS at: support@uchicago.edu, or Extension 4-8324. As a new faculty member, ITS allots you one email account; this is strictly enforced, without exception. If you need more than one account, please explore the option of using one of the many free email services available online (Hotmail, YahooMail, or Gmail).

To begin using your uchicago.edu email: log onto the university's CNet Account Management Page, select "Create your CNet ID and Password", select "Next", then carefully read the text titled "ITS Account Claims Introduction" (instructions on how to claim and utilize your new email account). For access to the campus network and the rest of the Internet, your machine be properly configured and inventoried after creating your CNet account. Please contact: Vincent Johnson and schedule an appointment for setting up your computer.
 

d. Access Your Departmental File Sharing and Computation Server:

The Department of Economics has servers that provide both file (ATHENS) and computational services (ATHENSX). Without charge, new faculty receives server space of 200GB of personal storage and 400GB of group storage for lab directories on the departmental file server ATHENS. In addition, statistical packages are available on the departmental computational server ATHENSX; this includes R, STATA, MATLAB, Knitro/Ampl, standard open-source and Sun compliers for a number of languages, and most open-source databases. 

To access these servers, an account must be created with the Social Sciences Computing Services (SSCS) with a valid CNetID. Request an account through the SSCS by entering your CNet ID and password; you will be notified when the account has been created (usually within one business day). The account created with Social Sciences Computing Services (SSCS) is used for your departmental file sharing and computational server. 

Note: When your SSCS account is first created, your username and password are the same as your ITS (CNet) password information. However, password information is not synced between the SSCS and ITS beyond account creation. If you wish to change your password on an SSCS server it will not affect your ITS (CNet) password information, and vice versa.
 

e. Access DropBox:

To have the remote server DropBox installed, please contact: Vincent Johnson, Rosenwald 325 B, Extension 5-6226, ssrbcomputing@lists.uchicago.edu
 

f. Back Up Data:

Social Sciences Computing Services installs a backup program called Bacula on all faculty and staff desktop computers. Bacula runs nightly on all desktop systems and backs up to servers managed and maintained by the SSCS. SSCS closely monitors all backup processes and regularly checks on all systems backing up on the Bacula system for errors and mixed backups. Bacula requires a static, wired network connection. Bacula backs up all user account data under Documents & Settings in Windows XP, under Users in Windows 7, and under Users in Mac OXS. Any data outside of those directories is NOT backed up.
 

g. Creating a Personal Webpage:

To request a personal webpage, please consult IT Services’ Web Hosting FAQ website. The webpage is placed on an ITS server and viewed using the URL: http://home.uchicago.edu/~CNet ID/. (Quota is 20 megabytes and .htaccess files are allowed.) Research web applications can be facilitated through contacting the department’s Server Administrator, John Lodder.
 

h. Identification:

The UChicago Card is the official University identification card. This multi-function picture ID grants access to a number of services on campus, including but not limited to access to the libraries, athletic facilities, Rosenwald after hours, and free campus CTA buses (#170, #171, #172).  Once you are in the payroll system, you can get your UChicago Card at the Identity & Privileges Office, located in room 100F in the lobby of Joseph Regenstein Library.
 

i. Other Services:

IT Services offers many technologies to enhance teaching and research, such as audio-visual services, media classrooms, and Chalk, the learning management system. Find out more about these services at the Academic and Collaboration Technologies website and via the Umbrella Initiative. Some websites useful to teaching are:

Faculty Access: access course listings, class rosters, and grades.
Chalk: website where students may access electronic course materials, posted grades, and announcements.
College Catalog: view program of study and requirements.
Time Schedules: access quarterly schedules for program of study.
Academic Calendar: view quarterly calendar, including observed University holidays.

 

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III. Datasets Available

These datasets are available, free of charge, to individuals in the Social Sciences Division of the University of Chicago and the Academic Research Areas of the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) through the UChicago network.

a. SSCS Data Archive:

These datasets are outside of SSCS Data Archive. Special arrangements with data owners may be required.

b. Other Datasets That May be of Interest to Social Scientists:

  • Chicago Census Research Data Center: The Chicago RDC provides data in collaboration between the Census Bureau and a consortium of the Argonne National Laboratory, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois. Economic, demographic, and mixed data are available. To access the Chicago Census Research Data Center, please contact Frank Limehouse (CRDC) at: frank.f.limehouse@census.gov,  (312) 322-6002. Access requires a proposal submitted to the sponsoring government agency (Census, NCHS, or AHRQ). Frank Limehouse can assist with the development of full proposals, from preliminary proposal ideas by interested researchers.
  • Wharton Research Data Services: The WRDS is a web-based business data research service from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania that provides researchers with instant access to financial, economic, and marketing data though a uniform, web-based interface. To obtain access to WRDS, please contact Robert Herbst at: rherbst@uchicago.edu, Extension: 2-8254.
  • Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP) data products:
    • Stock
    • Indices
    • Cap-based portfolios
    • CRSP/COMPUSTAT Merged Database
    • Treasuries
    • Mutual Funds
    • CRSP/Ziman Real Estate Data Series
    • Customized CRSP datasets
  • Conference Board Data Series
    • Consumer Confidence
    • Employment Trends Index
    • Help-Wanted Online
    • Leading Economic Index
    • Measure of CEO Confidence
  • Sociometrics Data Archives
    • HIV/AIDS/STI
    • Teen Pregnancy
    • Aging
    • Family
    • Child Poverty
    • Alternative Medicine
    • Contextual
    • Disability
    • Maternal Drug Abuse
  • Panel Study of Income Dynamics Datasets
    • Aging
    • Philanthropy
    • Food Related Issues
    • Children and Youth Data
  • Center of Population of Economics Datasets
    • Union Army
    • U.S. Colored Troops
    • Public Health
    • Examination Sample
  • Chapin Hall Longitudinal Study Data Analytics Publications
    • Improving Indicators of Child Well-Being
    • Chicago Children and Youth 1990-2010
    • Foster Care Dynamics 2000-2005
  • Other datasets available through Booth School Research and Learning Centers
    • Accounting Research Center
    • The Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory
    • Center for Decision Research
    • Center for Population Economics
    • Center for Research in Security Prices
    • Chicago Energy Initiative
    • George J. Stigler Center for the Study of Economy and the State
    • The Initiative on Global Markets
    • James M. Kilts Center for Marketing
    • Michael P. Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship
    • The Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics
    • The Becker Friedman Institute 

 

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