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InTheLoop | 10.27.2008

The weekly newsletter for Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences

October 27, 2008

ESnet Boosts Speed of Connections to Princeton

ESnet just improved its Internet connections to several institutions on Princeton University’s Forrestal Campus, including the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), the High Energy Physics Group within the Physics Department at Princeton University, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL). Now researchers around the globe can access data from these science facilities with increasing speeds and scalability, helping enable international collaborations on bandwidth-intensive applications and experiments.

The Princeton network upgrade took approximately five months to complete, and involved running fiber optic cabling underground from the Forrestal Campus outside Princeton, New Jersey, along Route 1 to South Brunswick, then to Philadelphia, where it is transported across the ESnet infrastructure to ESnet's main point of presence in McLean, Va.

PPPL’s Internet connection is now operating at 10 gigabit speeds, a 6,400 percent improvement in performance. The upgrade also brought new 1 gigabit circuits to GFDL and HEP. For more details, see http://www.lbl.gov/CS/Archive/news102408.html.

ASCAC Meeting in Gaithersburg This Tuesday and Wednesday

DOE’s Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC), of which Horst Simon is a member, will meet in Gaithersburg MD on October 28–29.

Keep Your Balance and Footing When Using Ladders

With autumn leaves falling and the holidays approaching, you may find yourself pulling out a ladder to do tasks around your home. Whether you are pruning trees, cleaning gutters, or putting up holiday decorations, be sure to make sure your ladder is safely positioned and you don’t overreach.

To reduce the risks of falls and other ladder-related injuries, follow these ladder safety tips from Werner Ladder and the Home Safety Council:

  • Inspect your ladder carefully — look for missing or damaged components, and make sure all working parts move properly. Never use a damaged ladder.
  • Read (and heed) the safety instructions and warnings you find on the ladder.
  • Place the ladder on level ground and open it completely, making sure all locks are engaged.
  • Do not overreach — keep your body centered on the ladder and gauge your safety by your belt buckle. If your buckle passes beyond the ladder rail, you are overreaching and at risk of falling.
  • Never imbibe when using the ladder to decorate — steer clear of ladders if you’ve indulged in holiday cheer.
  • Don't stand above the highest safe standing level. For a stepladder, the safe standing level is the second rung from the top, and for an extension ladder, it’s the fourth rung from the top.
  • Hold the ladder with one hand while working with the other. You should always have three points of contact with the ladder.
  • Place the extension ladder top so both rails are fully supported, with at least 12 inches of support area on each side of the ladder.
For more information on ladder safety, go to Warner Ladder Home.

This Week’s Seminar Schedule

Wednesday, Oct. 29, 4–5 p.m., Soda Hall, HP Auditorium, UC Berkeley

Lighting, Reflection and Rendering: Appearance for Graphics and Vision
EECS Distinguished Colloquium

Ravi Ramamoorthi, Computer Science Department, UC Berkeley
Much of the beauty of our visual world comes from the effects of richly illuminated indoor and outdoor environments, complex reflections and glossy materials like paints, velvet or silk, and intricate shading effects like soft shadows from the leaves of a tree in skylight. My research program develops the mathematical and computational models for these types of lighting and reflection effects, providing a unified approach to a number of applications of visual appearance in computer graphics and vision.

I will first describe our work in high quality real-time rendering, where our models of lighting and reflection have enabled interactive image synthesis with natural lighting, realistic materials and soft shadows. I will also discuss some more recent work on modeling the volumetric scattering of light in the atmosphere, leading to effects like glows around light sources and dimming and diffusing of surface shading. I then discuss a variety of projects in data-driven appearance capture, modeling and rendering. We describe methods for “inverse rendering” to estimate lighting and reflectance, image-based rendering of faces from a single input image, new data-driven models for human skin, and the acquisition and editing of spatially and temporally varying appearance. Finally, I discuss the use of realistic appearance in computer vision, including low-dimensional subspaces for complex lighting, and more recent work on frequency domain invariants that can be used to detect tampering and splicing in images. Thursday, Oct. 30, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Soda Hall, Wozniak Lounge (430-438), UCB

Par Lab Seminar: Parallel Computation and Music

Roger B. Dannenberg, Carnegie Mellon University

Real-time music computation demands concurrency, and music applications are an obvious target for multicore computing. However, the fine-grain nature of parallelism in music computation poses many practical challenges. In this talk, I will review some work in parallel processing including a parallel language for the Cm* multiprocessor (AMPL), a functional language with temporal semantics for music (Arctic), and a message-based real-time object system for interactive media (Aura). I believe that efficient use of parallel hardware will require new hardware support for communication, and I will conclude with some speculation on how hardware/software systems might be organized for better utilization of multicore processing.

Link of the Week: The Eureka Hunt

Why do good ideas come to us when they do? In a New Yorker article, Jonah Lehrer describes what cognitive neuroscience tells us about flashes of insight http://web.mit.edu/ekmiller/Public/www/miller/News_Articles/Lehrer_Insight_New_Yorker.pdf. Insight turns out to be a delicate balancing act between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and relaxation is crucial. “Concentration,” Lehrer writes, “comes with the hidden cost of diminished creativity.”  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.