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InTheLoop | 02.01.2010

February 1, 2010

Carbon Cycle 2.0 Seminars Today through Thursday

Earth’s carbon cycle is overburdened. We emit more carbon into the atmosphere than natural processes are able to remove — an imbalance with negative consequences. Carbon Cycle 2.0 is a Berkeley Lab initiative to provide the science needed to restore this balance by integrating the Lab’s diverse research activities and delivering creative solutions toward a carbon-neutral energy future.

Carbon Cycle 2.0 means collaboration 2.0: tackling one of the greatest challenges facing the nation and world will require an urgent and more creative take on the kind of cross-disciplinary problem solving needed to bridge the gap between basic and applied research. In the spirit of what made Berkeley Lab great, the entire Lab community must take initiative and engage on CC2.0 for it to be a success.

Associate Lab Director/CRD Director Horst Simon and NERSC Director Kathy Yelick encourage all Computing Sciences staff to participate in the series of Carbon Cycle 2.0 symposia being held this week so we can explore how computing, networking and mathematics can contribute to this emerging strategic priority. Wednesday’s symposium will include a presentation by CRD’s Juan Meza on “Computation in CC2.0.”

Each session starts at noon. The sessions on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday will be held in the Bldg. 50 Auditorium, while the meeting on Wednesday will be in Bldg. 66. The links for each day’s webcast will be provided in Today at Berkeley Lab. You can find complete details here.

A Good Match for Thermoelectrics

Junqiao Wu of Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division used NERSC’s Franklin supercomputer to demonstrate that the introduction of oxygen atoms to the semiconductor zinc selenide will produce a “highly mismatched alloy” whose thermoelectric performance is substantially enhanced with no loss of electric conductivity. Thermoelectrics are promising for green energy production. Read more.

NERSC Users Group Elects Executive Committee

The NERSC Users Group (NUG) has announced election results for the NUG Executive Committee (NUGEX). NUGEX members represent to NERSC and DOE the users from each of the six DOE offices with the Office of Science. There are three representatives from each office and four members at large. Here are the current NUGEX members.

Cross-Cutting Technologies for Computing at the Exascale Workshop

DOE is sponsoring a Cross-Cutting Technologies for Computing at the Exascale Workshop tomorrow through Friday (February 2–5) in Washington, DC. This workshop will provide a forum for discussing how to create a comprehensive exascale computing environment that will enable the applications that were identified in the eight Grand Challenge Science workshops held in 2008-2009.

This comprehensive environment is envisioned to include not only system architecture, software and tools, but models, algorithms and application software that will enable scientific discovery at the exascale. The goal of the workshop is to involve the relevant communities in defining the elements of the R&D agenda for exascale computing.

Breakout session leads for the workshop include Phil Colella and John Bell of CRD and John Shalf of NERSC.

2010 DOE Applied Mathematics Program Meeting

The DOE Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) will hold a meeting for investigators in the Applied Mathematics Program on May 3–5, 2010 at the Doubletree Hotel in the Berkeley Marina. The 2.5-day meeting will consist of a combination of plenary talks, breakout sessions, and poster sessions to highlight recent research in selected theme areas.

Theme areas include linear algebra, optimization, multiscale and numerical PDEs, discretization and meshing, stochastic systems and uncertainty, analysis of petascale data, and complex interconnected systems.

Please visit the meeting website for information regarding registration, research contribution submission, and hotel reservations. In particular, please note the following deadlines:

  • Research contribution submission:  March 15, 2010
  • Meeting registration:  April 11, 2010
  • Hotel reservations:  April 11, 2010

Esmond Ng and Chao Yang of CRD’s Scientific Computing Group are members of the organizing committee, with Ng chairing the group.

This Week’s Computing Sciences Seminars

Nonsmooth, Nonconvex Optimization
Tuesday, February 2, 10:00–11:00 am, 50B-4205
Michael Overton, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University

There are many algorithms for minimization when the objective function is differentiable, convex, or has some other known structure, but few options when none of the above hold, particularly when the objective function is nonsmooth at minimizers, as is often the case in applications. We describe two simple algorithms for minimization of nonsmooth, nonconvex functions. Gradient sampling is a relatively new method that, although computationally intensive, has a nice convergence theory. The method is robust and the convergence theory has recently been extended to constrained problems. BFGS is an old method, developed for smooth problems, for which we have very limited theoretical results, but some remarkable empirical observations, extensive success in applications, and a rather bold conjecture. Limited Memory BFGS is a popular extension for large problems, and it too is applicable to the nonsmooth case, although our experience with it is more mixed.

How Does SST Influence North Atlantic Hurricane Activity?
Friday, February 5, 11:00 am–12:00 pm, 50F-1647
Hervé Grenier, Paris Re, Paris, France

Recent data suggests a large sensitivity of tropical cyclone activity to a variety of environmental parameters, including sea surface temperatures. This observed sensitivity is much larger than the one anticipated from theory, and in disagreement with model projections of future hurricane activity. Statistical modeling is used to clarify the role of SST warming trend in driving hurricane activity variability. A new interpretation of the last 30 years of data is proposed. The proposed interpretation is shown to provide a more consistent picture than the one currently accepted through the Atlantic Meridional Mode or Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation paradigm, and helps to reconcile theory and observations of hurricane activity sensitivity to SST.

Link of the Week: A Science Comedian

What can a scientist do when he discovers that he doesn’t like academia? Former biologist Tim Lee became a comedian. Read more in the New York Times.

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.