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InTheLoop | 11.29.2010

November 29, 2010

Supercomputing's New World Order

“Supercomputing’s new world order,” a story about the recent SC10 conference by CNN reporter Ann Hoevel, begins and ends with comments by NERSC Advanced Technologies Group leader John Shalf — first about efforts to reinvent supercomputing to reach exascale, and then an amusing anecdote about trying to explain his work to his family.

Barbara Liskov to Discuss MIT Diversity Initiative

Barbara Liskov, Associate Provost for Faculty Equity and Institute Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, will speak on the “MIT Initiative for Faculty Race and Diversity” from noon to 1:00 pm Wednesday, December 1, in 306 Soda Hall (HP Auditorium) on the UC Berkeley campus.

Professor Liskov is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the ACM. She received the ACM’s Turing Award in 2009, the IEEE Von Neumann medal in 2004, the lifetime achievement award from the Society of Women Engineers in 1996, and in 2003 was named one of the 50 most important women in science by Discover magazine.

Here is the abstract of her talk:

One of the great challenges faced by U.S. institutions of higher learning in the 21st century, particularly in fields of science and technology, is the engagement and full utilization of the population’s talent. MIT has elected to take on this important task of addressing diversity at its highest levels, amongst its own faculty. In order to take significant steps forward in this effort across the Institute, it is critical to understand the issues that must be faced to attain a more diverse faculty. To this end, the Initiative for Faculty Race and Diversity was charged to investigate the status of underrepresented minority faculty (which includes Black, Hispanic and Native American faculty) at MIT and to use the findings from this investigation to inform a set of recommendations. The recommendations address Institute policy and practices, with the aspiration that their implementation will increase the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority faculty.

This talk will present the data collected from MIT, its analysis, and the recommendations made, and will report on the progress of the initiative. See http://web.mit.edu/provost/raceinitiative/ for more information.

Liskov will also speak at an EECS Colloquium on "The Power of Abstraction" at 4:00 pm on Wednesday. See details below.

This Week’s Computing Sciences Seminars

The World’s First Real-Time Attribution Forecast Product
Tuesday, Nov. 30, 11:30 am–12:30 pm, 50F-1647
Dáithí Stone, University of Cape Town, South Africa

“Are our emissions of greenhouse gases to blame for this weather event?” This talk will present the development of the growing field addressing the weather risk attribution question, from pilot research studies to the world’s first proactive weather risk attribution product. Some analysis will be discussed, in particular highlighting the issues that have been raised, both from the demand and provision side. This topic bridges the seasonal forecast and climate change fields, raising possibilities for misinterpretation but also opportunities for contributing to satisfying some of the growing need for climate services.

LAPACK Seminar: An Introduction to Structured Low Rank Matrix Approximation
Wednesday, December 1, 11:10 am–12:00 pm, 380 Soda Hall, UC Berkeley
Cinna Wu, UC Berkeley

EECS Colloquium: The Power of Abstraction
Wednesday, December 1, 4:00–5:00 pm, 306 Soda Hall (HP Auditorium), UC Berkeley
Barbara Liskov, Institute Professor and Associate Provost for Faculty Equity, MIT

Abstraction is at the center of much work in Computer Science. It encompasses finding the right interface for a system as well as finding an effective design for a system implementation. Furthermore, abstraction is the basis for program construction, allowing programs to be built in a modular fashion. This talk will discuss how the abstraction mechanisms we use today came to be, how they are supported in programming languages, and some possible areas for future research.

Link of the Week: Grassroots Climate Modeling

You’ve heard of climate change, but what does that actually mean for the weather in the region where you live? Could it be that you are going to see an increase in the number of damaging weather events? Or could the weather actually be getting nicer? You now have the opportunity to help scientists find the answers to questions like these, by taking part in the climateprediction.net “weatherathome” experiment.

Since the launch of climateprediction.net in 2003, hundreds of thousands of volunteers have generously donated their computers’ spare processing power to run state-of-the-art global climate models and help scientists learn more about the range of climates we are most likely to encounter in the twenty-first century. Such global models can tell us a lot, but they are still not detailed enough to tell us much about the potential changes to regional and local weather. To learn about these we need to use a model which is so detailed in its coverage that it can only afford to cover a limited area of the globe — a “regional climate model.”

In this new “weatherathome” experiment, climateprediction.net has partnered with the Met. Office, with support from Microsoft Research, to develop a regional climate model that is available for download and running on personal computers anywhere. Read more.

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.