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InTheLoop | 09.02.2008

The weekly newsletter for Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences employees

September 2, 2008

Participants Work Long Hours at ACTS Collection Workshop

The Ninth DOE ACTS Collection Workshop was held at Berkeley Lab’s Oakland Scientific Facility on August 19–22, and despite the long hours (8 a.m. to 6 p.m. except for the last day), the participants worked diligently through the tutorials and hands-on sessions, with one graduate student even working after hours with a presenter to obtain profiling data from a large code development effort.

This year’s participants included 20 graduate students (two from the DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellow program), 10 postdoctoral fellows, three university professors, and seven staff researchers, as well as drop-ins from NERSC, LBNL, and Sandia National Laboratories.

Workshop organizer Tony Drummond of CRD commented, “It is interesting to see how familiar are the workshop participants with parallel computing and the use of some of the ACTS tools, in contrast to the first ACTS workshops when people barely knew how to write parallel programs. This advancement gives room to more in-depth tutorials and lectures, more focused discussions, and better interactions between tool developers and workshop participants.”

A more detailed article about the workshop will be included in the next issue of CRD Report.

Registration Is Open for NERSC Users’ Group Meeting on Oct. 2–3

Registration is open for the next NERSC Users' Group (NUG) meeting on Thursday and Friday, October 2–3, at Berkeley Lab's Oakland Scientific Facility. A day of training classes on Thursday will be followed by the NUG business meeting on Friday. Also on Friday, NERSC staff will be available all day to help users work hands-on with their codes.

All NERSC users are invited to attend either in person or remotely (via a live webcast and teleconference). Meeting information and registration are available at NUG Meeting October 2-3.

LBNL Hosts French Delegation Researching Strategic HPC

On Wednesday, August 27, Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences hosted a daylong visit by members of the Strategic Council for HPC, established by the French Ministry of Research to advise the French government on investments and research programs in supercomputing. University of Paris Prof. Olivier Pironneau, who is the president of the Strategic Council, and council members Prof. Michel Kern and Laura Grigori (a former LBNL postdoc) of the INRIA Research Center also visited several universities in the U.S. this summer to learn about cutting-edge projects in software development for high performance computing. In addition to technical presentations on LBNL’s research in scientific data management, algorithm development and computer architectures, the visitors also sought detailed information on issues ranging from staffing to budgeting to collaborations with the UC Berkeley campus.

BAMS Publishes Article on Climate Computer Project

The July issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) has a short article on page 957 titled “New Supercomputer Proposed to Improve Climate Predictions,” which discusses Michael Wehner, Lenny Oliker and John Shalf’s project to develop a climate computer using low-power embedded processors. The article summarizes their paper “Towards Ultra-High Resolution Models of Climate and Weather,” which appeared in the May issue of the International Journal of High Performance Computing Applications.

NITRD Is Soliciting Input for a Five-Year Strategic Plan

The Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program is soliciting input, in the form of a two-page white paper, from government, academia, and industry in the U.S. and abroad to assist in the development of a five-year strategic plan for the program. The strategic plan will focus primarily on R&D goals that require interagency coordination, including multi-agency investments and joint programs that respond to the priorities of the federal government as a whole. This plan will complement and support each participating agency’s strategic plan.

Respondents were asked to address two central questions:

  • What do you imagine as the future in terms of desired networking and information technology (NIT) capabilities?
  • What roles do you imagine for the NITRD Program and for the academic, commercial, international, and other domains in achieving that future?

A sampling of anonymized versions of the white paper responses are publicly available for comment on the NITRD website. There will be additional opportunities for input on a draft strategic plan. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Detrice Wallace, NCO/NITRD Strategic Planning Coordinator at (703) 292-4873 or by email at wallace@nitrd.gov.

Deadline Extended for CAPP Advanced Career Mentoring Workshop

The Computing Research Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W) has extended the application deadline for the CAPP Advanced Career Mentoring Workshop to September 9, 2008. The goal of the workshop is to increase the percentage of Computer Science and Engineering women faculty members and researchers who reach the top of their respective career tracks: faculty members by being promoted to full professor, and researchers in industrial or government labs by being promoted to the top of their institution’s technical ladder or by entering research management.

The two-day intensive CAPP Professional Development Workshop will be held November 14–15, 2008 at the Inn at Loretto, Santa Fe, New Mexico. On-line applications and requests for travel support to the CAPP Workshop.

Los Alamos Computer Science Symposium to Be Held Oct. 13–15

This year’s Los Alamos Computer Science Symposium (LACSS) will be held Oct. 13–15 at the La Fonda Hotel, Santa Fe, New Mexico. This year LACSS will focus on hybrid and heterogeneous computing, including architecture and programming environments. Horst Simon is serving on the program committee. See Los Alamos Computer Science Symposium (LACSS) 2008 for more details.

LHC Startup Celebration Planned in San Francisco on Sept. 10

Swissnex San Francisco, an annex of the Consulate General of Switzerland, is hosting “The High Energy Frontier: Celebrating the Startup of the Large Hadron Collider” from 7:00 to 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 10. That’s the day when the first proton beams will be circulated around the Large Hadron Collider’s (LHC’s) 27-kilometer-circumference tunnel, which lies beneath Switzerland and France.

The evening’s events will include a link from the CERN control room, a status report of the first day’s attempts to circulate the beam, and a brief introduction to the largest, most ambitious experiment in the history of science. On hand will be some of the scientists and engineers from local universities and laboratories, including LBNL and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, who have worked on the giant accelerator and its experiments.

The event is free but participation is limited, so please RSVP early. For information and registration, go to Events - Swissnex San Francisco.

Fujitsu Donation Ceremony at Computer History Museum Sept. 12

Fujitsu is donating processing elements and crossbar boards from the ground-breaking VPP series supercomputers to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. The donation ceremony will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Friday, September 12, with lunch included, and an optional docent-led tour of the museum’s Visible Storage exhibit (600 artifacts) from 1:00–2:00 p.m.

The VPP series supercomputers were used for fluid dynamics simulations, weather forecasting, and other performance-intensive applications. The Numerical Wind Tunnel in Japan, which debuted at first place in the TOP500 in November 1993, was one of the first VPP systems. Speakers at this ceremony will discuss the VPP project’s contribution to computational fluid dynamics in the aerospace industry, the innovative design of the VPP systems, and the direction of petascale computing at Fujitsu.

To register for this event, go to https://dnbweb1.blackbaud.com/OPXREPHIL/EventDetail.asp?cguid=8AABA752%2DB39A%2D47DB%2D9659%2D352C14D5E740&eid=17744. For more information, call 650-810-1059. To RSVP for the special tour of the Computer History Museum's Visible Storage exhibit, contact Tammy Rosiles at trosiles@us.fujitsu.com or (408) 746-8978.

This Week’s Seminar Schedule

Tuesday, Sept. 2, noon–1:30 p.m., 290 Hearst Memorial Mining Bldg., UC Berkeley

We’re Just Getting Started: The Mobile Revolution Yet to Come
Bob Iannucci, Senior Vice President, CTO, Nokia; Head of Nokia Research Center
Live on-line broadcast: mms://media.citris.berkeley.edu/webcast

Mobile devices have long since moved beyond being mere phones and now match the computing power of desktop systems from just a few years ago. Bob Iannucci, Nokia’s worldwide Chief Technology Officer now based in Palo Alto, California, will offer a glimpse into this next wave of mobility. How these devices, sensors and information will mesh, and the amazing society-transforming capabilities that they will usher in, are nothing short of astounding. Challenges around security, privacy and scalability will abound, but the global scope of the opportunity makes this an incredibly exciting area for those with the imagination and drive to develop it.

Wednesday, Sept. 3, noon–1 p.m., 290 Hearst Memorial Mining Bldg., UC Berkeley
Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Games as an Expressive Medium
Michael Mateas, Professor of Computer Science, UC Santa Cruz
Live on-line broadcast: mms://media.citris.berkeley.edu/webcast

Artificial intelligence methods open up new possibilities in game design, enabling the creation of believable characters with rich personalities and emotions, interactive story systems that incorporate player interaction into the construction of dynamic plots, and authoring systems that assist human designers in creating games. Games are fast becoming a major medium of the 21st century, being used for everything from education, to editorial news commentary, to expressing public policy and political opinions. Game AI research can radically expand the expressiveness of games, supporting them in becoming a mainstream medium for societal discourse. These ideas will be illustrated by looking at two projects: the interactive drama Façade (released July 2005, downloadable from Interactive Story) and current work on automated game design support.

Link of the Week: UbiGraph — Dynamic Multilevel Graph Visualization

UbiGraph is a free tool for visualizing and interacting with dynamic 3D graphs in real time. Its potential applications include visualizing and debugging complex algorithms and data structures; visualizing wireless ad hoc networks in which the network connectivity is changing; watching visitors navigate around your web site in real time; discovering the hotspots in your program through a visual profile that shows where time is being spent in your program as you interact with it; or visualizing the spread of a disease through a social network.

The UbiGraph demos are fun to watch, especially the graph animation and the algorithm visualization. ASCR logoSciDAC logoOffice of Science logoDOE logoUC seal

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.