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InTheLoop | 03.05.2012

March 5, 2012

The Carbon Dioxide Catchers

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal-burning power plants are major contributors to global warming. So researchers are searching for porous materials to filter the CO2 generated by these plants before it reaches the atmosphere. Using borrowed techniques from drug discovery, and state-of-the-art advances in mathematics, computational algorithms and supercomputing, researchers in Berkeley Lab's Computational Research Division developed a tool for identifying the most efficient porous materials for CO2. Read more.


CRD’s Leinweber to Give Opening Keynote at TradeTech Conference in NYC

David Leinweber, co-founder of the Center for Innovative Financial Technology(CIFT) in the Computational Research Division, will give the opening keynote talk at TradeTech, the world's largest annual conference for equity trading and technology professionals. TradeTech will be held March 6–8 at the Javits Center in New York City.

In his talk during the opening session on Wednesday, March 7, Leinweber will discuss “Big Data in Financial Markets.” Among the topics he will cover are structured and unstructured big data, federal market monitoring and buy side lessons, collaborative intelligence and research, and alpha hunting skills for human and machine teams.

Launched in 2001, TradeTech annually draws about 1,200 top-level electronic trading professionals.

CIFT was started at Berkeley Lab in July 2010 to help build a bridge between the technical needs of the federal financial market regulatory agencies and the substantial technological resources suited for this purpose developed over many decades at LBNL and elsewhere with support from the DOE science program.


NERSC to Host Software Carpentry Boot Camp on March 28–29

NERSC has arranged to host a two-day Software Carpentry Boot Camp on March 28–29 in Oakland and Berkeley, CA. Information and registration information is available here. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis, and there is no registration fee. The March 28 session will be in conference room 238 at the Oakland Scientific Facility (OSF); the March 29 session will be in room 50A-5132 on the Berkeley Lab main campus. Later content depends on earlier lessons, so please only register if you are able to attend both full sessions.

Since 1998, Software Carpentry has taught scientists and engineers the skills and tools they need to use computing more productively. Thanks to a grant from the Sloan Foundation, they are running two-day workshops at selected institutions, followed by four to eight weeks of self-paced online learning. The workshops cover the core skills a researcher needs to know in order to be productive in a small team:

  • using the shell to do more in less time
  • using version control to manage and share information
  • basic Python programming
  • how (and how much) to test programs
  • working with relational databases.

The online follow-up goes into these topics in more detail, and also touches on program design and construction, matrix programming, using spreadsheets in a disciplined way, data management, and software development lifecycles. For more information, go here; or contact them by email.


Correction to Last Week’s Mentoring Article

Last week’s item “Berkeley Lab Staff Mentor Teen Girls in App Development” inadvertently omitted Kirsten Fagnan of NERSC from the list of mentors. She is volunteering at the UC Berkeley campus program, which had a shortage of mentors. Read more.


This Week’s Computing Sciences Seminars

Adaptive Local Basis Set for Kohn-Sham Density Functional Theory in a Discontinuous Galerkin Framework: LAPACK Seminar
Wednesday, March 7, 12:10–1:00 pm, 380 Soda Hall, UC Berkeley
Lin Lin, LBNL/CRD

Kohn-Sham density functional theory (KSDFT) is the most widely used electronic structure theory for condensed matter systems. Uniform discretization of the Kohn-Sham Hamiltonian generally results in a large number of basis functions per atom in order to resolve the rapid oscillations of the Kohn-Sham orbitals around the nuclei even in the pseudopotential framework. Atomic orbitals and similar objects significantly reduce the number of basis functions, but these basis sets generally require fine tuning of the parameters in order to reach high accuracy.

We present a novel discretization scheme that adaptively and systematically builds the rapid oscillations of the Kohn-Sham orbitals around the nuclei as well as environmental effects into the basis functions. The resulting basis functions are localized in the real space, and are discontinuous in the global domain. The continuous Kohn-Sham orbitals and the electron density are evaluated from the discontinuous basis functions using the discontinuous Galerkin (DG) framework. Our method is implemented in parallel, and the current implementation is able to handle systems with at least thousands of atoms. Numerical examples indicate that our method can reach very high accuracy (less than 1 meV) with a very small number (4 ~ 40) of basis functions per atom.

EECS Colloquium: Racetrack Memory: A High-Performance, Storage Class Memory Using Magnetic Domain-Walls Manipulated by Current
Wednesday, March 7, 4:00–5:00 pm, 306 Soda Hall, UC Berkeley
Stuart Parkin, IBM Fellow and Manager of the Magnetoelectronics Group, IBM Research–Almaden

Racetrack memory is a novel high-performance, non-volatile storage-class memory in which magnetic domains are used to store information in a “magnetic racetrack.” The magnetic racetrack promises a solid state memory with storage capacities and cost rivaling that of magnetic disk drives but with much improved performance and reliability: a “hard disk on a chip.” The magnetic racetrack is comprised of a magnetic nanowire in which a series of magnetic domain walls are shifted to and fro along the wire using nanosecond-long pulses of spin-polarized current. We have demonstrated the underlying physics that makes racetrack memory possible and all the basic functions — creation and manipulation of a train of domain walls and their detection. The physics underlying the current-induced dynamics of domain walls will also be discussed. In particular, we show that the domain walls respond as if they have mass, leading to significant inertial-driven motion of the domain walls over long times after the current pulses are switched off. We also demonstrate that in perpendicularly magnetized nanowires, there are two independent current driving mechanisms: one derived from bulk spin-dependent scattering that drives the domain walls in the direction of electron flow, and a second interfacial mechanism that can drive the domain walls either along or against the electron flow, depending on subtle changes in the nanowire structure. Finally, we demonstrate that thermally induced spin currents are large enough that they can be used to manipulate domain walls.

Innovation to Advance Moore’s Law: Room for Core Technology Revolution
Friday, March 9, 1:00–2:00 pm, 521 Cory Hall (Hogan Room), UC Berkeley
Klaus F. Schuegraf, Chief Technology Officer, Silicon Systems Group, Applied Materials

Moore’s Law represents the cumulative effort by many participants to advance the productivity of electronic systems over the last 40+ years, resulting in enormous strides in the capability and ubiquity of electronics. The semiconductor value chain has fragmented into many industrial groups — some overlapping — encompassing tremendous complexity on a global scale. This seminar introduces the innovation challenge facing the semiconductor equipment industry in order to propel the advance of semiconductor technology to the cadence of Moore’s Law. Examples will be drawn from successes creating solutions for advanced transistor and nanoscale interconnect technologies. To sustain Moore’s Law well into the future, this seminar identifies the need to create revolutionary new technologies which will enable new architectures, based on new devices and methods of interconnection.



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 6,000 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 DOE 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.