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InTheLoop | 09.20.2010

September 20, 2010

Horst Simon Is Named Deputy Director of Berkeley Lab

Associate Laboratory Director for Computing Sciences Horst Simon, an internationally recognized expert in computer science and applied mathematics, has been named Deputy Director of Berkeley Lab. “Horst is a strong leader who has helped to lead a tremendously productive program in high performance computing that is world-class,” said Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos. “As Deputy Director he’ll help me lead major scientific initiatives, oversee strategic research investments, and maintain the intellectual vitality of Berkeley Lab.” Read more.

Kathy Yelick has been named the new Associate Laboratory Director for Computing Sciences and will continue as NERSC Division Director. Read more.

Juan Meza will serve as Acting Director of the Computational Research Division while a search is conducted for a permanent director.

Berkeley Lab and Princeton Scientists Watch Stars Explode in 3D

Researchers from Princeton University and Berkeley Lab have found a new way to make computer simulations of supernovae exploding in three dimensions. The new simulations are based on the idea that the collapsing star itself is not sphere-like, but distinctly asymmetrical and affected by a host of instabilities in the volatile mix surrounding its core. Read more.

Call for Proposals to Use Advanced Networking Initiative Testbed

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)-funded Advanced Networking Initiative (ANI) testbed is now operational, and ESnet is soliciting proposals to use the testbed. This testbed will eventually be a nationwide 100 Gbps prototype of the world’s fastest computer network, designed specifically to support science. The testbed will be continually evolving to add new capabilities, and the updates will be added to the Testbed Description page.

New proposals will be accepted every six months, and the first round of one- to two-page proposals are due October 1, 2010. See the Proposal Process for more details.

Public Poster Session Today on CRT Draft Environmental Assessment

A DOE Berkeley Site Office poster session on the draft Environmental Assessment for the Computational Research and Theory Facility Project will be held this afternoon (Monday, Sept. 20) from 4 to 6 pm at the South Berkeley Senior Center (2939 Ellis St. near Ashby). Lab staff and community members are invited to attend. No formal presentation is planned, and members of the public are welcome to stop by at any time during the information session.

The assessment examines the environmental impacts of DOE’s “Proposed Action” to consolidate all DOE Advanced Scientific Computing Research-funded Berkeley Lab programs with related Berkeley Lab/University of California computational science programs. These programs would be relocated in a facility on or near the Berkeley Lab site. Read more. Copies of the draft Environmental Assessment are available for public review on the web and at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St.

Yelick Delivers Keynote at International Conference on Parallel Processing

Kathy Yelick, director of the NERSC Division and recently appointed Associate Laboratory Director for Computing Sciences, delivered the Sept. 16 keynote address at the 39th International Conference on Parallel Processing (ICPP). Held Sept. 13–16 in San Diego, ICPP is sponsored by the International Association of Computing and Communication (IACC) and provides a forum for engineers and scientists in academia, industry, and government to present their latest research findings in any aspects of parallel and distributed computing. Yelick spoke on “Paving the Road to Exascale Computing.”

Also at ICPP 2010, Khaled Ibrahim and Erich Strohmaier of CRD gave a presentation on “Characterizing the Relation between Apex-Map Synthetic Probes and Reuse Distance Distributions.”

Safety Reminder: Uneven Surfaces and Stairs

Computing Sciences staff are reminded of the need for attention when walking on the uneven surfaces and irregular stairways found in many locations at the Lab. An employee recently tripped walking down the stairs at the ATM machine near the cafeteria. Although the employee sprained both ankles, fortunately there were no broken bones. Employees are encouraged to hold handrails when they are available. An EHS Division One Minute for Safety slide discusses safety in ascending/descending stairs.

“Sifting Through Science” BLISS Workshop Today

Employees interested in sharing fascinating science activities with local students are invited to participate in today’s workshop, “Sifting Through Science,” where you will learn how to guide kindergarteners to explore buoyancy, magnetism, and the use of tools as they investigate the physical properties of objects. The workshop is part of the Lab’s Center for Science and Engineering Education (CSEE) Berkeley Lab in School Settings (BLISS) program. It takes place today (Monday, Sept. 20) from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm in Building 7-211. Registration is required and lunch will be provided.

This opportunity is for scientific and non-scientific personnel at every level, including grad students, postdocs, administrative staff, etc. All you need is a willingness to explore new ways of thinking and a love for sharing with children. All who complete the workshop are eligible to check out the BLISS kit, which includes all necessary materials for bringing these activities to the school of your choice.

This Week’s Computing Sciences Seminars

3D FFTs for Electronic Structure Calculations: Mixed Programming Models and Communication Strategies for Many Core Architectures
Tuesday, Sept. 21, 12:00–1:00 pm, OSF Room 238
Andrew Canning, LBNL/CRD

LAPACK Seminar: Highlights from the Thesis of Paul Willems on Computing Eigenvectors of Symmetric Tridiagonals
Wednesday, Sept. 22, 11:10 am–12:00 pm, 380 Soda Hall, UC Berkeley
Beresford Parlett, UC Berkeley EECS

This excellent thesis was filed in Wuppertal in 2010. It contains an elegant and deep analysis of triangular factorization on a symmetric tridiagonal, especially the case when 2x2 blocks occur among the pivots.

EECS Colloquium: Towards Universal Semantic Communication
Wednesday, Sept. 22, 4:00–5:00 pm, 306 Soda Hall, UC Berkeley
Madhu Sudan, Senior Fellow, Director Advanced Circuits/Exploratory ICs, Intel Corp.

Is it possible for two intelligent players to communicate meaningfully with each other, without any prior common background? What does it even mean for the two players to understand each other? We claim that this question, in addition to being of philosophical/linguistic interest, goes to the essence of modern communication/computation. Modern communicating devices are extremely diverse, constantly evolving, and misunderstandings (mismatches in protocols) between communicating devices are inevitable and a major source of errors. The questions raised above need to be answered to set the foundations for a robust theory of (meaningful) communication — one that would cover such diverse and evolving communicating devices.

In this talk, I will describe our approach towards this problem. We argue that in order to get to the heart of such questions, one must first articulate why intelligent players (and/or powerful computers) communicate. This leads us to a formal theory of “goals” of communication. We then show that when progress towards the goal is “verifiable” then players can detect misunderstandings. Under a complexity-theoretic lens, we show roughly that verifiability is really the essence of resolving misunderstandings: Verifiable goals are more powerful than goals that can be achieved without communication (so communication is good), but very restricted compared to “unverifiable” goals (so there is need for moderation). Most of the talk will focus on the definitions of various concepts such as “goals,” “(mis)understanding,” and resort to theorems based on computational complexity to support these definitions.

Smarter Planet: Region by Region, City by City, and University by University
Wednesday, Sept. 22, 4:00–5:00 pm, Banatao Aud., Sutardja Dai Hall, UC Berkeley
James Spohrer, Director, IBM University Programs World-Wide
Live broadcast at mms://media.citris.berkeley.edu/webcast

Are some regions of the world smarter than others? Are they more sustainable? Greener? More innovative? Do things just work better in some regions, and do these regions offer better jobs to workers and better investments to investors? How do these regions attract people and capital, and create value? IBM’s Smarter Planet Initiative aims to help regions become more instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent — to benefit from and contribute to sustainable innovation globally. In this talk, I will explore the important role of universities in making regions smarter. Smarter regions include one or more great city and great university, which form a tightly coupled pair with many shared service opportunities. The emerging discipline of service science views universities and cities as types of tightly coupled holistic service systems.

An Application Performance Tuning Retrospective
Friday, Sept. 24, 10:00–11:00 am, 50F-1647
William D’Amico

Application performance frequently boils down to one or two routines that are called many times during a run. When those routines have to wait for data, the application stalls and run times increase.

Reducing time spent stalled for memory involves analyzing data usage patterns and making use of architectural features to minimize time waiting on data. I will be presenting my experiences in improving performance of UltraSparc I and III based systems on Linpack (DGEMM) and a commercial rendering application, plus the tools used to find the issues.

If time allows I’ll also present data on using virtual memory system tuning on a variety of technical applications to reduce TLB induced latency on Ultra Sparc II and III systems.

Link of the Week: Gordon Bell on Modeling the World

Microsoft Research’s Modeling the World interview series recently posted a conversation with Gordon Bell, who relates his story of putting together a network that became the Internet. He also shares his vision on supercomputing, cloud and high performance computing.

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.