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InTheLoop | 11.07.2005

The Weekly Electronic Newsletter for Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences Employees

November 7, 2005

CRD's John Bell Receives 2005 Sidney Fernbach Award for Contributions to HPC

John Bell, a senior staff mathematician who leads the Center for Computational Sciences and Engineering in the Computational Research Division, has been named as the recipient of the 2005 Sidney Fernbach Award. The Fernbach Award is given by the IEEE Computer Society for an outstanding contribution in the application of high performance computers using innovative approaches.

The award will be presented at the SC05 conference in Seattle. In conjunction with the award, John will give a special talk in a conference session starting at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16.

“I am delighted to confirm that you have been selected to receive the 2005 Sidney Fernbach Award with the following citation: For outstanding contributions to the development of numerical algorithms, mathematical and computational tools and on the application of those methods to conduct leading-edge scientific investigations in combustion, fluid dynamics and condensed matter,” IEEE Computer Society President Gerald Engel wrote to Bell.

The most recent work of John and his group, featured on the July 19, 2005 cover of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was the development of the most impressive direct numerical simulation (DNS)-style combustion simulations to date. These laboratory-scale simulations of turbulent premixed methane combustion used 20 chemical species, 84 reactions, and no models for turbulence or turbulence chemistry interactions. For the first time researchers have been able to compare full-field images of entire laboratory-scale turbulent flames with views of the same produced by computer simulations uncompromised by turbulence models. This work allows direct comparison with experiment and contains sufficient chemical fidelity to allow detailed investigation of how the turbulence affects the process of combustion itself.

In 2003, John was a co-recipient of the SIAM/ACM Prize in Computational Science and Engineering, awarded by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). His current research focuses on the development and analysis of numerical methods for partial differential equations arising in science and engineering. He has made contributions in the areas of finite difference methods, numerical methods for low mach number flows, adaptive mesh refinement, interface tracking and parallel computing. He has also worked on the application of these numerical methods to problems from a broad range of fields, including combustion, shock physics, seismology, flow in porous media and astrophysics.

Prior to joining LBNL, John held research positions at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Exxon Production Research and the Naval Surface Weapons Center. John joins LBNL's Phil Colella and David Bailey as recipients of the Fernbach Award.

David Bailey Nominated for “Edge of Computation Science” Prize

David Bailey, a noted mathematician and the chief technologist for NERSC, has been nominated for the Edge of Computation Science Prize, awarded “For individual scientific work, extending the computational idea, performed, published, or newly applied within the past ten years.”

The Edge of Computation Science Prize, established by Edge Foundation, Inc., is a $100,000 prize initiated and funded by science philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein. Nominees were announced Nov. 1 and judging will take place this week, with the winner to b e announced Thursday, Nov. 11.

David, one of about 40 nominees, was nominated for his 1997 work with Peter Borwein and Simon Plouffe on the BBP algorithm, an exact computation of any digit of PI without computing previous digits. The list of other nominees includes Craig Venter (of Celera fame), Ian Foster of Argonne National Lab, Stephen Wolffram (of Mathematica fame), and Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

“Congratulations! You are in illustrious company,” Horst Simon wrote to David on hearing of the nomination. “Let's hope for the big prize.”

For more information on the award and nominees, go to http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/prize05/prize05_index.html.

NERSC Announces Organizational Changes, Two Associate General Managers Named

NERSC General Manager Bill Kramer announced several organizational changes effective today. The changes include two new associate general managers, two new teams and a new group.

“In order to efficiently carry out our plan and meet the expectations of our users and sponsors, we are modifying the NERSC Center organization,” Bill wrote in announcing the changes. “In addition to the Division, Department and Group components of the organization, we will have two other components: Functional Areas and Teams.”

NERSC is creating two functional areas — Science-Driven Systems and Science-Driven Services. The majority of the NERSC staff will work in these two areas. The functional areas are responsible for carrying out the responsibilities and tasks discussed in the respective sections of NERSC's five-year plan. Functional areas will be led by Associate General Managers (AGMs), who are responsible for coordinating activities across the groups and teams in their areas. Francesca Verdier is associate general manager for Science-Driven Services and Howard Walter is associate general manager for Science-Driven Systems.

The Accounts and Allocations Team, the Analytics Team, the Open Software and Programming (OSP) Group, and the User Services Group (USG) will report to the Science-Driven Services AGM. The Computational Systems Group (CSG), the Computer, Operations and ESnet Support Group (CONS), the Mass Storage Group (MSG), and the Networking, Security and Servers (NAST) Group will report to the Science-Driven Systems AGM.

Effective immediately, NERSC will have one new group and two new teams. They are:

* Analytics Team — Analytics is the intersection of visualization, analysis, scientific data management, human-computer interfaces, cognitive science, statistical analysis, and reasoning. The primary focus of the Analytics Team is to provide visualization and scientific data management solutions to the NERSC user community to better understand complex phenomena "hidden" in scientific data. The responsibilities of the team span the range from applying off-the-shelf commercial software to advanced development to realizing new solutions where none previously existed. The Analytics Team is a natural expansion of the Visualization efforts that have been part of NERSC since its beginning at LBNL. Wes Bethel is the team leader.

* Open Software and Programming (OSP) Group — The growing use of open source software and partially supported software requires a change in approach to NERSC's needs for the future. These areas now are a key component of NERSC's ability to provide high quality systems and services. OSPG is responsible for the support and improvement of open source and other partially supported software, particularly the software that NERSC uses for infrastructure, operations and delivery of services. Key efforts include open source engineering, development and support of middleware (Grid and Web tools), and NERSC's software infrastructure. The group lead will be competitively recruited and Francesca Verdier will act as group lead until a permanent group lead is found.

* Science-Driven Systems Architecture (SDSA) Team — This team performs on-going evaluation and assessment of technology for scientific computing. The team will have expertise in benchmarking, system performance evaluations, workload monitoring, use of application modeling tools, and future algorithm scaling and technology assessment. Using scientific methods, the team will develop methods for analyzing possible technical alternatives and will create a clear understanding of current and future NERSC workloads. The team will engage with vendors and the general research community to advocate technological features that will enhance the effectiveness of systems for NERSC scientists. The team is responsible for on-going management of a suite of benchmarks that NERSC and LBNL use for architectural evaluation and procurement. This includes composite benchmarks and metrics such as SSP, ESP, variation, reliability, and usability. The team will matrix staff from both NERSC and CRD for specific areas such as algorithm tracking and scaling which are designed to develop and document future algorithmic requirements. The scientific focus for this effort will change periodically and will start with applied mathematics and astrophysics. The team lead is John Shalf.

Campus Lecture to Feature Open Software Expert Kapor Discussing Wikipedia

The Cal School of Information Management and Systems Distinguished Lecture Series presents “Content Creation by Massively Distributed Collaboration,” a talk by Mitch Kapor, at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9. The lecture will be held in 202 South Hall.

Kapor will discuss the unique principles and values that have enabled the Wikipedia community to succeed and will examine the intriguing prospects for application of these methods to a broad spectrum of intellectual endeavors. He is the president and chair of the Open Source Applications Foundation, a non-profit organization he founded in 2001 to promote the development and acceptance of high-quality application software developed and distributed using open source methods and licenses. In 2003 Kapor became the founding chair of the Mozilla Foundation, which is dedicated to the development and promulgation of standards-compliant open source Web browser software. Kapor is widely known as founder of Lotus Development Corporation and the designer of Lotus 1-2-3, the "killer app" that made the personal computer ubiquitous in the business world in the '80s.

Here's the abstract for his talk:
“The sudden and unexpected importance of the Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia created by tens of thousands of volunteers and coordinated in a deeply decentralized fashion, represents a radical new modality of content creation by massively distributed collaboration. This talk will discuss the unique principles and values which have enabled the Wikipedia community to succeed and will examine the intriguing prospects for application of these methods to a broad spectrum of intellectual endeavors.”

New National Academies Report Recommends Steps for Economic Leadership

"Rising Above the Gathering Storm," the new report from the National Academies, lays out 20 specific actions the federal government should take to ensure America's economic leadership and ability to compete in the 21st century. The report was written by the 20-member Committee for Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century. LBNL Director Steve Chu is a member of the committee.

The report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future," runs approximately 150 pages plus a lengthy series of appendices. It can be ordered or read online at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11463.html.

The report includes, in an appendix, "back of the envelope" cost estimates for implementing its recommendations; costs for the entire package of proposals could range from about $9 billion to over $20 billion annually. The main recommendations are:

Recommendation A: Increase America's talent pool by vastly improving K-12 science and mathematics education.

Recommendation B: Sustain and strengthen the nation's traditional commitment to long-term basic research that has the potential to be transformational to maintain the flow of new ideas that fuel the economy, provide security, and enhance the quality of life.

Recommendation C: Make the United States the most attractive setting in which to study and perform research so that we can develop, recruit, and retain the best and brightest students, scientists, and engineers from within the United States and throughout the world.

Recommendation D: Ensure that the United States is the premier place in the world to innovate; invest in downstream activities such as manufacturing and marketing; and create high-paying jobs that are based on innovation by modernizing the patent system, realigning tax policies to encourage innovation, and ensuring affordable broadband access.

About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) Computing Sciences organization provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing the Department of Energy's research missions: developing new energy sources, improving energy efficiency, developing new materials and increasing our understanding of ourselves, our world and our universe.

ESnet, the Energy Sciences Network, provides the high-bandwidth, reliable connections that link scientists at 40 DOE research sites to each other and to experimental facilities and supercomputing centers around the country. The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) powers the discoveries of 7,000-plus scientists at national laboratories and universities, including those at Berkeley Lab's Computational Research Division (CRD). CRD conducts research and development in mathematical modeling and simulation, algorithm design, data storage, management and analysis, computer system architecture and high-performance software implementation. NERSC and ESnet are Department of Energy Office of Science User Facilities.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the DOE’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.