Information about PHC

PHC - whose name has mysterious origins with which we won't elaborate on here - is an advanced teaching initiative of the Mathematics Department. It was started many years ago (around 1994) by Prof. Vinicio Villani, while he was Director of the Computing Centre of Leonida Tonelli Department of Mathematics at the University of Pisa.

Villani took the 6 best PCs we had and gave them to the students to run by themselves in their study room.
At the time, the Department already had a stable Internet connection and the computers were networked.

A small group of students formed and, using all Open Source tools, they managed to transform the PCs into a network of Linux computers and configure various useful and much appreciated services for the whole community of mathematics students.

Despite the continual coming and going of each new generation of students, this group of computer technicians (or macchinisti as they called themselves), have managed to keep the initiative going throughout the years. Students from other degree courses such as Biology, Physics and Computer Science have also participated.
You may only become a macchinista upon invitation.

Currently, the Department of Mathematics provides room 106 (Phone: 050-2213272 internal: 23272), a block of addresses IPV4 and IPV6, a nameserver for domain phc.dm.unipi.it and advanced equipment, as well as various other Department activities in favour of this initiative.
Only on very rare occasions has the Department needed to buy new PCs so the cost of the initiative has been minimal during the past 20 years.

Amongst the services that the macchinisti provide to the community of mathematics students, the web server poisson.phc.dm.unipi.it is worthy of a mention. It was once called poisson.dm.unipi.it and still keeps this alias. It provides many useful services, including the students' web pages.
This web server was actually started even before the Department's web server (in fact, it was already active in 1996).
See for example the pages listed for poisson.dm.unipi.it and poisson.phc.unipi.it from web.archive.org.

One of our lecturers has the task of following the activities of the macchinisti, whilst interfering as little as possible with their decisions.

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(last updated: 2017-4-30)