Target (project)

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Template:Infobox project Target is the name of the largest (as of 2010) research project into big data processing and management in the Netherlands.[1] It is a public-private cooperation, initiated in 2009 and supported by government subsidies.[2] It is run by a consortium of ten academic and computer industry partners, coordinated by the University of Groningen, and researches data management of science projects in the area of astronomy, life sciences, artificial intelligence and medical diagnosis.

Cooperating in the Target project are various divisions of the University of Groningen, its medical center, IBM, Oracle, ASTRON and Dutch IT firms Elkoog/Heeii and Nspyre.

Technical details

The Target data center is hosted by the Donald Smits Center for Information Technology located at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Target's computer center is hosted by the Donald Smits Center for Information Technology, the computing center of the University of Groningen, and consist of more than 10 Petabytes of storage based on IBM's GPFS storage technology, [3] a high-performance computing cluster[4] and a grid cluster, which is a part of the Big Grid and the European Grid Infrastructure.


The project was initiated to transfer expertise of astronomers in massive data processing to other areas of science. Target builds on a distributed computing environment called Astro-WISE.[5][6] The Target project launched in 2009 after receiving 32 million euros[7] of funding for a period of five years from the European Fund for Regional Development, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs ("Pieken in de Delta" project), and the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe. The project runs under the auspices of the Northern Netherlands Provinces Alliance (SNN) and the Groningen municipality.

Technological findings

Template:Unreferenced section At the start of the project one aim was to develop a single integrated processing system, consisting of a multi-petabyte scale file system[8] and several different types of grid and compute clusters [9] During the first years it became apparent that the requirements for the different e-Science disciplines are different. In some areas, a massive data streaming effort takes place, as in Lofar. In astronomy, the number of data objects may run in the billions, with a limited number of data columns. In genomics, the number of rows is small, but the number of columns can be huge, in the hundreds of thousands. Other areas, such as visual text retrieval in the Monk search engine for historical manuscripts are at an intermediate position with hundreds of millions of rows and thousands of dimensions. Furthermore, genomics applications often require stringent access control[10], whereas other disciplines have no privacy issues.


Target participates in a number of data-intensive scientific projects in astronomy, Big Data visualization (collaboration with the eScience center in Amsterdam)[11], handwritten text recognition algorithms, medical research on healthy aging, development of diagnostic tools for Parkinson’s disease and more.

LOFAR Long-term Archive

Target has developed and maintains the LOFAR Long-term Archive.

Much of the data from the LOFAR telescope is stored, accessed from and archived on the LOFAR Long-Term Archive, designed by ASTRON and Target[12] [13][14]. The data will be hosted at the Target data center and several other European centers.


Monk is a system, developed by prof. Schomaker and his group at the Artificial Intelligence Institute (ALICE) at the University of Groningen. It utilizes pattern-recognition and machine-learning algorithms for handwritten text recognition in a variety of existing archives.[15][16][17] Currently a number of books from the Dutch National Archives as well as more than 70 international historical collections, ranging from Western, medieval to handwritten Chinese manuscripts have been ingested into Monk. The systems applies continuous ('24/7') machine learning over internet, yielding fundamental results.Template:Vague[18] MONK is also a scientific user of the Target infrastructure.


LifeLines is a long-term medical research project run by the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG). An array of genotype and phenotype data will be gathered from 165000 people once every five years for a total period of thirty years. The accumulated data will be used by researchers and medical specialists to gain insights into the processes related to aging and understand why age-related health degradation varies so widely.[19] Target provides LifeLines with the infrastructure for data storage, access and processing. Data from Lifelines, as well as the SURFsara and Target infrastructure were used in the Genome of the Netherlands project, run by a consortium of the UMCG, LUMC, Erasmus MC, UMCU, Free University of Amsterdam. Results from the project using whole-genome sequencing to deduce population structure and demographic history of the Dutch population were published in June in the Nature Genetics journal.,[20][21]


Run by Dr. K Leenders, a professor of neurology at the UMCG, GLIMPS is a research project set to find faster and more reliable diagnostic tools for Parkinson’s disease.[22] GLIMPS explores the possibilities of using complex image-based algorithms and PET scans for early detection of Parkinson’s.[23] To test the effectiveness of such algorithms, GLIMPS is building a large database of PET scans delivered by numerous hospitals in the Netherlands. Target is responsible for building and maintaining the GLIMPS database as well as ensuring the smooth running of the image-based algorithms on its computing facilities.


Additionally, Target is involved in the data management for other astronomical projects such as KiDs/VIKING astronomical survey [24] [25], ESO’s MUSE[26] instrument (mounted on the Very Large Telescope) and MICADO (to be mounted on the E-ELT). In addition the datacentric approach to data management prompted by Target has been adopted by the ESA’s Euclid mission.[27] Target Holding also manages a number of commercial projects with private businesses in the North of the Netherlands.

Public outreach and education is an important activity and Target has organised many public events .[28] The Infoversum 3D theatre [29] [30] is a spin-off of the Target project and provides a facility for the visualisation and explanation of scientific data for large groups.


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