Over the past few months a new initiative, called Theory-Experiment Collaboration for Hot QCD Matter (TECHQM), has taken shape, which potentially will have great impact on how our community arrives at scientific conclusions on the nature and properties of hot and dense QCD matter created at the RHIC and LHC facilities.
TECHQM was initiated with a workshop held at Brookhaven National Laboratory in May of 2008. The stated goal of the workshop was to
initiate TECHQM (“Theory-Experiment Collaboration for Hot QCD Matter”), a new joint working group of theorists and experimentalists. The goal of TECHQM is to further the understanding of hot QCD matter through detailed, quantitative analysis of heavy ion collision experimental data and theory, together with the dynamical modeling which connects them.
A more comprehensive mission statement for TECHQM can be found here.
All interested theoreticians and experimentalists working on hot and dense QCD matter are welcome to join TECHQM. Members of the initiative have regular phone conferences and communicate via several mailing lists. All TECHQM activities are documented in a wiki, allowing all members to freely share relevant information.
Historically, TECHQM can trace back some of its roots to the Open Standard Codes and Routines (OSCAR) initiative, which was founded in 1997. The stated goal of OSCAR was to address the problem concerning the lack of common standards, documentation, version control, and accessibility in many transport codes for relativistic heavy-ion collisions at that time. While the OSCAR effort fell short of providing fully documented bechmarks and comparisons between different transport approaches (mostly due to lack of resources and community interest – quite different from the current TECHQM effort), its lasting legacy is twofold: it facilitated for the first time the public accessibility of the transport codes themselves (e.g. with its own repository) and most importantly it defined standard output formats for transport codes, which are still widely used today. Such output formats allow for easy comparison of results and the interfacing of different transport models with each other and with analysis tools and thus will have a direct impact on the work done by TECHQM.
What sets TECHQM apart from just being a revived OSCAR initiative is of course the strong involvement of the broader (experimental) community. The past 8 years of RHIC operations have led to a mature experimental program with a richness of data previously unseen in relativistic heavy-ion physics. In particular the experimental signatures for collective flow and jet-quenching as well as parton recombination have acted as powerful discriminators between different models for the produced matter and have provided confidence that a deconfined state of QCD matter has indeed been created. With the formulation of the next US Nuclear Physics Long Range Plan on the horizon, it became clear to many in the community that a new comprehensive approach was needed to exploit these developments – and thus TECHQM was born.
Currently, the TECHQM effort is focused on two working groups – partonic energy loss and bulk evolution. In the future it is hoped to expand the reach of TECHQM to other areas of hot and dense QCD matter for which systematic theory – experiment comparisons are of relevance, e.g. heavy quarks and initial conditions.