A really “hot” Summer School (ACACES -July 2016)


It’s been around two weeks since I got back from my summer school (Advanced Computer Architecture and Compilation for High-Performance and Embedded Systems -ACACES) in Italy and I am still reminiscing about some of my memorable experiences there.  I was preparing for the trip weeks ahead and I was both excited to see a new place and nervous about meeting new people at the summer school.

I planned the trip with my fellow colleagues from the APT group so that  we got to see a bit of Rome before we headed off to Fiuggi, where the summer school was held.  The temperatures in Rome were quite hot, around 30 degrees, so it was reassuring to know that I would return back to the cool weather of Manchester. (Clearly though, I was completely wrong about that, since I made it back for a “week long heatwave” in the UK! Nevertheless, I hope everyone enjoyed the great weather here!)

In Rome, we first spent a day visiting the Vatican – the museum, St-Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. There is usually a long queue to enter the museum, so we pre-booked our tickets.  The Vatican Museum has a LOT to offer to the large number of visiting tourists, it has a substantial number of artefacts to look round.  It was quite  crowded for my liking but overall it was a pleasant experience.  I spent the remaining two days “trying” to cover as much as I could of Rome.  I was able to see the usual touristy spots which included the Colosseum, Trevi Fountains, Palantine Hills, Altare della Patria and the Arch of Constantine.

The best way to explore these places is by taking a walk around the streets, at every corner I found that there was something new to see. From a sweet melody playing in the background to someone dressed up as a Roman Warrior! The city has an incredible amount to offer in terms of its rich history, where the ancient ruins have become a part of the day-to-day lives of the people of modern Rome. It is like being caught in  two different eras at the same time.

On my little excursion, I found that a panoramic  view of Rome can be found by climbing the Altare della Patria (which I later found out is also known as the wedding cake!).

Some places I saw in Rome and Vatican

No experience of Italy is complete without a taste of Italian pizza. Some places in Italy are known for their thin crust pizzas (Neapolitan Pizza) while others do thick crust (Sicilian pizza). When I was in Rome, I got the chance to sit at a local pizzeria and savour every bite of a thin crust four cheese pizza.

Four Cheese Pizza
Four Cheese Pizza

ACACES Summer School

The summer school was just like attending a normal school but with lots of extra perks! On the first day, we were welcomed with a box of traditional Amaretti biscuits and we had an opening talk by Edward A Lee from UC Berkely, which set the scene for the rest of the summer school. The major theme that was focused upon in the talk was the lack of a definite model for emerging technologies for the future internet of things.

As for the daily routine, every morning began with an all you can eat breakfast meal, which was followed by two lectures in the morning and two lectures in the afternoon.  In addition, we were given free tickets every day to let our hair down and relax at the hotel spa. Finally, we ended each day with a 7 course meal that included some very mouth-watering pasta, risotto, spaghetti, soups and more. Pasta was always the main dish and each day the pasta was flavoured differently, from tomato to lemon.  To my surprise , sometimes the pasta was cooked a little differently, with the centre left just a little bit tender, to give it a certain texture. I must say I was impressed by their precision!  And If you think this wasn’t enough, there were other surprises such as  “spaghetti with squid ink”.

The most enjoyable experience at the summer school for me was sitting around the big dinner table, savouring every dish, sipping some really good wine and having friendly conversations with the people around me, who came in from all different parts of the world.

At dinner
At dinner

Some of the courses I attended were:

I was completely new to all the courses, so I learnt quite a lot in that one week. In general, all of them were pretty interesting and informative about the field, current issues and future research directions. I would say that I enjoyed the lectures on operating systems and superscalar the most.

Apart from lectures, we had a poster session to have one-on-one conversations with other PhD students and researchers who were working on different topics, such as computer architecture to applications that are built on top of parallel computing platforms.

Obviously, no poster session is complete without a picture of a poster from The University of Manchester:

Poster from Richard Neill, The University of Manchester
Poster from Richard Neill, APT group, The University of Manchester

The summer school ended off with a dance party with all of us at one point grooving to some Bollywood and Bhangra music (the epic moment when I got to bust out my ‘bollywood, a.k.a desi’ moves).

Grooving to ”Chammak Challo”

See you until next time!


Thanks to all the people I met.
Thanks to HiPEAC and all the people I met


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