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InTheLoop | 08.09.2010

August 9, 2010

NERSC’s Jonathan Carter Named New Deputy for Computing Sciences

Jonathan Carter, who has led NERSC’s User Services Group since 2005, has been named as the new Computing Sciences Deputy, succeeding Michael Banda, who joined the ALS earlier this year. Carter was one of the first new employees hired when NERSC moved to Berkeley Lab in 1996.

“Jonathan brings an excellent range of experience to this position, and his tenure at LBNL and NERSC will help him get up to speed extremely quickly—something I am really excited to have in a new deputy,” said Horst Simon, Associate Lab Director for Computing Sciences. “Jonathan’s training as a computational scientist, his work in directly supporting NERSC users, and his experience in leading the recent procurement of Hopper, NERSC’s next supercomputing system, made him an ideal candidate for this position.” Read more.

Breakthrough Hastens Modeling of Tabletop Accelerators

Particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN are the big rock stars of high-energy physics—really big. The LHC cost nearly USD$10 billion to build and its largest particle racetrack (27 km in circumference) stretches across a national border. However, a recent breakthrough in computer modeling may help hasten the day when accelerators thousands of times more powerful can be built in a fraction of the space—and for significantly less money.

Researchers computing at NERSC have sped up by a factor of hundreds the modeling, and thus the design of experimental laser wakefield accelerators. The team, lead by principal investigator Warren Mori of the University of California at Los Angeles and his collaborator Luis Silva of the Instituto Superior Tecnico (IST) in Lisbon, Portugal, published its findings in Nature Physics in April. Read more.

ESnet Seeking Proposals for Experiments using ANI Testbed

Want try out some new ideas in network research? ESnet is now accepting proposals to run experiments on its reconfigurable testbed. ESnet’s ARRA-funded Advanced Networking Initiative testbed is a high-performance environment where researchers will have the opportunity to prototype, test and validate cutting-edge networking concepts. The testbed will support research including multi-layer multi-domain hybrid networks, network protocols, component testing for future capabilities, protection and recovery, automatic classification of large bulk data flows, high-throughput middleware and applications, and other innovative ideas in a realistic network environment, but with no risk of breaking anything.

To submit a proposal, first review the instructions. Proposals are due October 1, 2010. Decisions will be made January 10, 2011, when the Phase 1 version of the testbed is up and running. The phase 1 version is a set of 10 Gbps connected layer 1, 2, and 3 equipment that will be deployed on a dark fiber ring ESnet acquired in Long Island (LIMAN: Long Island Metropolitan Area Network). This will mainly be of interest to researchers doing experiments at layers 1-3, or middleware/application research at 10 Gbps.

ESnet Launches New ReadyTalk Service for Audio/Web Conferencing

ESnet, DOE’s Energy Sciences Network, has switched its audio/web conferencing infrastructure from Cisco MeetingPlace to a different commercial service provider — ReadyTalk Inc. ReadyTalk audio/web conferencing features:

  • Free, no reservations required, audio/web conferencing
  • 24-hour customer care toll-free number
  • Toll-free domestic and international access (over 100 countries) to audio conferencing
  • Each account can accommodate to 96 ports

Current users funded by the DOE Office of Science will receive an email containing new account information from ReadyTalk. User registration for new audio/web conferencing service started July 30, 2010. The Cisco MeetingPlace audio bridge will continue to operate until 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, 2010 (PDT), but no new MeetingPlace registrations will be accepted after July 30. These changes only apply to audio conferencing services, not video. ESnet will upgrade the video conferencing infrastructure in the fall/winter 2010.

NERSC Provides Computer Security Tutorial for Users

NERSC has provided a computer security course for users that covers such topics as Policy Concerning Computer Use at NERSC, Minimum Security Requirements & Best Practices, Credential Theft, Encrypting SSH Keys, Social Engineering, Managing Private Information, Incident Response, Disaster Recovery, and Resources for Assistance & Education. The tutorial (accessible only to users and staff) starts at https://secure.nersc.gov/nusers/security/tutorial/.

NERSC Has Opening for Supercomputer Facility Manager

NERSC has announced an opening for a Supercomputer Facility Manager. This position is responsible for managing the mechanical, electrical, building and computer room support systems at the NERSC Oakland Scientific Facility (OSF). The position includes managing multiple complex and competing projects from the conceptual phase through planning, engineering, procurement, construction, startup, commissioning and close-out; managing support staff and subcontractors; and providing day-to-day support for the OSF operation. See job details. The Lab’s Employee Referral Incentive Program (ERIP) awards $1,000 (net) to employees whose referral of an external candidate leads to a successful hire.

Energy-Efficient HPC Is Heating Up

An article in Scientific Computing by John Shalf, head of the Advanced Technologies Group at NERSC, contends that a new approach is needed to reach a set of common, useful metrics for energy efficiency in high performance computing (HPC). Shalf co-organized a Birds-of-a-Feather session on this topic at the recent 2010 International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, Germany.

“We need metrics that provide a better reflection of real-world use of these machines to run codes and applications,” he writes. And the energy efficiency of the facility as a whole, including cooling, should not be overlooked. Read more.

Peter Nugent Sparks Students’ Interest in Supernovae

Peter Nugent, leader of Berkeley Lab’s Computational Cosmology Center, gave a talk on “Supernovae, Supercomputing and the Fate of the Universe” for the 2010 Physics In and Through Cosmology Workshop held July 19–30 at UC Berkeley. The fourth annual workshop for high school students and teachers was sponsored by the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics, led by 2006 Nobel Prize winner George Smoot. Nugent also signed up several students to serve as computational astronomers in the Supernova Zoo project.

Juan Meza Gives Two Talks at Rice University

Juan Meza, head of Berkeley Lab’s High Performance Computing Research Department, returned to his alma mater, Rice University, to give two talks as part of the Rice Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (Rice-Houston AGEP) Program. On July 23, Meza spoke first on “Computing and the Carbon Cycle: The Search for Clean Energy,” then followed up with some solid advice on “Navigating the Job Interview.”

Friends Recall Daniel Schreiber's Passion, Zest for Ideas

Daniel Schreiber, a former summer student in CRD, died near Urbana, Illinois, on July 27. He was 24 years old.

In the summer of 2007, after finishing his junior year in the UIUC Computer Science Department, Schreiber worked for Sherry Li in the Scientific Computing Group and made two significant contributions to the multi-threaded SuperLU library: an OpenMP implementation and added support for complex data types. His name is on the list of SuperLU contributors. In the past three years, there has been a large increase in the number of downloads of multi-threaded SuperLU because of the wide availability of multicore machines.

Schreiber recently withdrew from graduate studies to devote himself to making artisanal chocolate, according to a story in the Urbana News-Gazette, where his friends recall his energy and enthusiasm.

Par Lab Boot Camp Scheduled for August 16–18

The 2010 Pab Lab Boot Camp—Short Course on Parallel Programming is intended to offer programmers a practical introduction to parallel programming techniques and tools on current parallel computers, emphasizing multicore and manycore computers. Based on popular demand they have added lectures on parallel debugging and verification techniques. Three all-day sessions will be held at Wheeler Auditorium on the UC Berkeley campus, as well as online. The course is free to students, faculty, staff, and affiliates (including Berkeley Lab), but registration is required. Go here for details.

Python Boot Camp Scheduled for August 23–25

Registration is now open for the Python Boot Camp to be held on the UC Berkeley campus August 23–25. The purpose of the boot camp is to get those familiar with other computing languages (like C, Java, Fortran, and Lisp) ramped on the basics of the Python language. The Boot Camp itself is a mixture of formal lectures, in-class demos, coding breakout sessions for participants, and homework projects. Registration is open to anyone in the UC Berkeley research/academic community on a first-come basis.

This Week’s Computing Sciences Seminars

Carbon Smackdown: Visualizing Clean Energy
Monday, August 9, 12:00–1:00, Bldg. 50 Auditorium
Juan Meza, CRD

Juan Meza of the Computational Research Division will discuss how computer simulations are furthering our understanding of climate change and clean energy technologies.

Link of the Week: The New Science of Morality

Last month the Edge Foundation sponsored a two-day conference on The New Science of Morality. Each of nine participants led a 45-minute session on day one that consisted of a 25-minute talk, followed by 20 minutes of discussion. For example, University of Virginia moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt proposed:

That the five most important taste receptors of the moral mind are the following ... care/harm, fairness/cheating, group loyalty and betrayal, authority and subversion, sanctity and degradation. And that moral systems are like cuisines that are constructed from local elements to please these receptors.

Day two consisted of two 90-minute open discussions. The first session, “Consensus/Outstanding Disagreements,” explored the scientific aspects of where we are, how much consensus we have, and what empirical or theoretical questions are still outstanding in the science of morality. The second session, “Applications/Implications,” gave the participants an opportunity to think big about how the science of morality can be applied to make the world a better place, make governments work better, improve corporate governance, law, the Internet, etc. The goal for day two: to begin work on a consensus document on the state of moral psychology to be published on Edge in the near future.

The entire 10 hours of talks and discussions are gradually being made available online in HD video, text, and MP3 audio; the first day’s talks are currently available. Click here for abstracts and links.

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.