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InTheLoop | 02.11.2008

The weekly newsletter for Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences

February 11, 2008

LBNL Mathematician James Sethian Elected to National Academy of Engineering

James Sethian, head of the Mathematics Group at Berkeley Lab and a professor of mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Sethian was one of 65 new members and nine foreign associates whose election was announced Friday, February 8. Sethian was honored “for the development of efficient methods of tracking moving interfaces.”

Sethian’s research has led to the development of Fast Marching Methods and Level Set Methods, which are numerical techniques which can follow the evolution of interfaces. These interfaces can develop sharp corners, break apart, and merge together. The techniques have a wide range of applications, including problems in fluid mechanics, combustion, manufacturing of computer chips, computer animation, image processing, structure of snowflakes, and the shape of soap bubbles.

“Prof. Sethian is truly deserving of this honor, which reflects his mathematical contributions to solving problems across a wide range of areas,” said LBNL Associate Laboratory Director for Computing Sciences Horst Simon, who is also Director of the Computational Research Division, where Sethian’s group resides. “Applied math research is an essential component of our computational science program, and the research by James and his group has contributed to advancements not only at Berkeley Lab, but at research organizations across the country and around the world.”

For more about Sethian’s work, visit Moving Interfaces and Boudaries.

Swiss National Computing Centre, NERSC Will Exchange Staff

The Swiss National Computing Centre (CSCS) and NERSC announced last week that they have signed a memorandum of understanding for a staff exchange program between the two centers. The agreement gives more formal structure to already existing ties between the two centers. Berkeley Lab Associate Director for Computing Sciences Horst Simon is a member of the CSCS advisory board. Both centers also share a common technological focus, having selected Cray XT supercomputers as their primary systems after thorough reviews of various systems.

Last year, a group from CSCS visited NERSC for a series of discussions about systems and facilities. Howard Walter, who oversees NERSC’s computational systems, paid a return visit in January 2008, sharing NERSC’s expertise in designing and building energy-efficient computing facilities.

A Modest Proposal for Petascale Computing

In an editorial in the February 8 issue of HPCwire titled “A Modest Proposal for Petascale Computing,” editor Michael Feldman writes:

“In typical forward-thinking California fashion, the folks at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) are already looking beyond single petaflop systems, even before a single one has been released into the wild. LBNL researchers have started to explore what a multi-petaflop computer architecture might look like. Even ignoring the challenge of software concurrency, they point out that power and system costs will determine how such machines can be built....

“At last year’s SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering, LBNL researchers Lenny Oliker, John Shalf, [and] Michael Wehner authored a presentation about what kind of supercomputer would be required for a climate modeling system with kilometer-scale fidelity.”

Feldman describes this research as a “paradigm shift [in] thinking about supercomputers as appliances rather than as general-purpose computers.”

SciDAC Outreach Center Is Featured in Scientific Computing Magazine

An article by David Skinner titled “Reaching Out to the Next Generation of HPC Users” appears in the January 2008 issue of Scientific Computing magazine. In the article, Skinner discusses the SciDAC Outreach Center’s efforts to help new research communities gain access to HPC resources. Skinner leads the SciDAC Outreach Center as well as NERSC’s Open Software and Programming Group.

Reese Baird and Ted Kisner Join the Scientific Computing Group and C3

Reese Baird and Ted Kisner recently joined the Scientific Computing Group (SCG), where they will work with Julian Borrill on researching cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. They will be part of the newly formed Computational Cosmology Center (C3), which is led by Borrill and Peter Nugent.

Baird came to SCG after a two-year tour of duty with the Peace Corps in Cameroon. Previously he was a member of the High Performance Computing Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin.

Kisner worked at the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley prior to joining Berkeley Lab. At the Space Lab, he already worked very closely with members of SCG on CMB. His past work included the analysis of data from the BOOMERanG experiment. His research currently is focused on the Planck and EBEX experiments. Kisner is working on improving CMB data analysis by developing and implementing new algorithms, as well as creating tools for managing CMB data and the software for analyzing them. He is getting a Ph.D. in physics from UC Santa Barbara.

CRD Has Opening for an Administrative Assistant III

The Advanced Computing for Science Department within CRD has a job opening for an Administrative Assistant III. The job is summarized as follows: “Independently provide a comprehensive range of specialized administrative services and support to multiple groups in the Computational Research Division.”

For information on the Lab’s Employee Referral Incentive Program (ERIP), which awards $1,000 (net) to employees whose referral of an external candidate.


Link of the Week

InTheLoop is starting a new occasional feature, featuring an interesting or amusing web page. This week features the art of Julian Beever, a pavement artist who specializes in three-dimensional illusions. Some of his pieces are simply amazing. You can see his work at Julian Beever.

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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.