Throughout LHC Run 2, LHCb has been flooded by b- and c-hadrons due to the large beauty and charm production cross-sections within the experiment’s acceptance. To cope with this abundant flux of signal particles and to fully exploit them for LHCb’s precision flavour-physics programme, the collaboration has recently implemented a unique real-time analysis strategy to select and classify, with high efficiency, a large number of b- and c-hadron decays. Key components of this strategy are a real-time alignment and calibration of the detector, allowing offline-quality event reconstruction within the software trigger, which runs on a dedicated computing farm. In addition, the collaboration took the novel step of only saving to tape interesting physics objects (for example, tracks, vertices and energy deposits), and discarding the rest of the event. Dubbed “selective persistence”, this substantially reduced the average event size written from the online system without any loss in physics performance, thus permitting a higher trigger rate within the same output data rate (bandwidth). This has allowed the LHCb collaboration to maintain, and even expand, its broad programme throughout Run 2, despite limited computing resources.
The two-stage LHCb software trigger is able to select heavy flavoured hadrons with high purity, leaving event-size reduction as the handle to reduce trigger bandwidth. This is particularly true for the large charm trigger rate, where saving the full raw events would result in a prohibitively high bandwidth. Saving only the physics objects entering the trigger decision reduces the event size by a factor up to 20, allowing larger statistics to be collected at constant bandwidth. Several measurements of charm production and decay properties have been made so far using only this information. The sets of physics objects that must be saved for offline analysis can also be chosen “à la carte”, opening the door for further bandwidth savings on inclusive analyses too.
For the LHCb upgrade (see LHCb’s momentous metamorphosis), when the instantaneous luminosity increases by a factor of five, these new techniques will become standard. LHCb expects that more than 70% of the physics programme will use the reduced event format. The full software trigger, combined with real-time alignment and calibration, along with the selective persistence pioneered by LHCb, will likely become the standard for very high-luminosity experiments. The collaboration is therefore working hard to implement these new techniques and ensure that the current quality of physics data can be equalled or surpassed in Run 3.
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