Ohio Supercomputer Center Code of Ethics for Academic Users

The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) exists to provide state-of-the-art computing services to universities and colleges; to provide supercomputer services to Ohio scientists and engineers; to stimulate unique uses of supercomputers in Ohio; to attract students, faculty, resources and industry; to catalyze inter-institutional supercomputer research and development projects; to serve as the model for other state sponsored technology initiatives.

The OSC serves a large number and variety of users including students, faculty, staff members, and commercial clients throughout the state of Ohio.  Ethical and legal standards, in particular, that apply to the use of computing facilities are not unique to the computing field. Rather, they derive directly from standards of common sense and common decency that apply to the use of any public resource.  Indeed, the OSC depends upon the spirit of mutual respect and cooperative attitudes.

This statement on conditions of use is published in that spirit. The purpose of this statement is to promote the responsible, ethical, and secure use of OSC resources for the protection of all users.

Authorized Use

As a condition of use of the OSC facilities, the academic user agrees:

  1. To respect the privacy of other users; for example, users shall not intentionally seek information on, obtain copies of, or modify files, tapes, or passwords belonging to other users unless explicitly authorized to do so by those users.
  2. To respect the legal protection provided by copyrights and licenses to programs and data; for example, users shall not make copies of a licensed computer program to avoid paying additional license fees.
  3. To respect the intended usage for which access to computing resources was granted; for example, users shall use accounts authorized for their use by the principal investigator responsible for these accounts only for the purposes specified by the principal investigator and shall not use any other user's account unless explicitly authorized to do so by the principal investigator.
  4. To respect the integrity of computing systems; for example, users shall not intentionally develop or use programs that harass other users or infiltrate a computer or computing systems or damage or alter the software components of a computing system.
  5. To respect the financial structure of computing systems; for example, users shall not intentionally develop or use any unauthorized mechanisms to alter or avoid charges levied by the OSC for computing services.
  6. To not provide commercial companies with access to the Center by simply allowing the commercial company to use their accounts.

In addition, users are expected to report to the OSC information that they may obtain concerning instances in which the above conditions have been or are being violated.

Violations of the following conditions are certainly unethical and are possibly a criminal offense: unauthorized use of another user's account; tampering with other users' files, tapes, or passwords, harassment of other users; unauthorized alteration of computer charges; and unauthorized copying or distribution of copyrighted or licensed software or data. Therefore, when the OSC becomes aware of possible violations of these conditions, it will initiate an investigation. At the same time, in order to prevent further possible unauthorized activity, the OSC may suspend the authorization of computing services to the individual or account in question. In accordance with established practices, confirmation of unauthorized use of the facilities by an individual may result in disciplinary review, expulsion from his/her university, termination of employment, and/or legal action.

Users of computing resources should be aware that although the OSC provides and preserves security of files, account numbers, and passwords, security can be breached through actions or causes beyond reasonable control. Users are urged, therefore, to safeguard their data, to take full advantage of file security mechanisms built into the computing systems, and to change account passwords frequently.

Appropriate Use

Computing resources shall be used in a manner consistent with the instructional and research objectives of the academic community, in general, and consistent with the objectives of the specified project for which such use was authorized. All uses inconsistent with these objectives are considered to be inappropriate use and may jeopardize further authorization.

Beyond the allocation of computing resources, OSC normally cannot and does not judge the value or appropriateness of any user's computing. However, the use of computing resources for playing games for purely recreational purposes, the production of output that is unrelated to the objectives of the account, and, in general, the use of computers simply to use computing resources are examples of questionable use of these resources.

When possible inappropriate use of computing resources is encountered, the OSC shall notify the principal investigator responsible. The principal investigator is expected either to take action or to indicate that such use should be considered appropriate.

Should possible inappropriate use continue after notification of the principal investigator, or should unresolvable differences of opinion persist, these shall be brought to the attention of the Allocations Committee for recommendations on further action.  Upon the recommendation of the Committee, the Director may impose limitations on continued use of computing resources. Such limitations may be appealed to the Allocations Committee.

Responsible Use

Users are expected to use computing resources in a responsible and efficient manner consistent with the goals of the account for which the resources were approved. The OSC will provide guidance to users in their efforts to achieve efficient and productive use of these resources. Novice users may not be aware of efficient and effective techniques; such users may not know how to optimize program execution; nor may such optimization necessarily lead to improved cost benefits for these users. Those who use large amounts of computing resources in production runs should attempt to optimize their programs to avoid the case where large inefficient programs deny resources to other users.

Programming, especially in an interactive environment, involves people, computers, and systems. Efficient use of certain resources, such as computers, may lead to inefficient use of other resources, such as people. Indeed, the benefits attributed to good personal or interactive computing systems are that they speed total program development and thus lower attendant development costs even though they may require more total computer resources. Even with this understanding, however, users are expected to refrain from engaging in deliberately wasteful practices, for example, performing endless unnecessary computations.

OSC Responsibilities

The Center has a responsibility to provide service in the most efficient manner that best meets the needs of the total user community. At certain times the process of carrying out these responsibilities may require special actions or intervention by the staff. At all other times, members of the Center staff have no special rights above and beyond those of other users. The Center shall make every effort to ensure that persons in positions of trust do not misuse computing resources or take advantage of their positions to access information not required in the performance of their duties.

The Center prefers not to act as a disciplinary agency or to engage in policing activities. However, in cases of unauthorized, inappropriate, or irresponsible behavior the Center does reserve the right to take action, commencing with an investigation of the possible abuse. In this connection, the Center, with all due regard for the rights of privacy and other rights of users', shall have the authority to examine files, passwords, accounting information, printouts, tapes, or other material that may aid the investigation. Examination of users files must be authorized by the Director of OSC or his designee. Users, when requested, are expected to cooperate in such investigations. Failure to do so may be grounds for cancellation of access privileges.


OSC, Code of Ethics for Academic Users © 2001