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For the ALICE experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN/Geneva, a high level trigger system (HLT) for online event selection and data compression has been developed and a computing cluster of several hundred dual-processor nodes is being installed. A major system integration test was carried out during the commissioning of the time projection chamber (TPC), where the HLT also provides a monitoring system. All major parts like a small computing cluster, hardware input devices, the online data transportation framework, and the HLT analysis could be tested successfully. A common interface for HLT processing components has been designed to run the components from either the online or offline analysis framework without changes. The interface adapts the component to the needs of the online processing and allows the developer to use the offline framework for easy development, debugging, and benchmarking. Following this approach, results can be compared directly. For the upcoming commissioning of the whole detector, the HLT is currently prepared to run online data analysis for the main detectors, e.g., the inner tracking system (ITS), the TPC, and the transition radiation detector (TRD). The HLT processing capability is indispensable for the photon spectrometer (PHOS), where the online pulse shape analysis reduces the data volume by a factor 20. A common monitoring framework is in place and detector calibration algorithms have been ported to the HLT. The paper describes briefly the architecture of the HLT system. It focuses on typical applications and component development.