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InTheLoop | 06.18.2012

June 18, 2012

Greg Bell Is Named Director of New Scientific Networking Division

Berkeley Lab announced on June 13 that Gregory Bell has been named director of the Scientific Networking Division and head of the U.S. Department of Energy's ESnet, or Energy Sciences Network. Bell, who has held both positions on an acting basis since November 2011, is the fourth person to lead ESnet since the organization was created in 1986. Read more.

Scientists Help Define the Healthy Human Microbiome

The human microbiome's exact function, good and bad, is poorly understood. But that could all change now that the normal microbial make-up of healthy humans has been mapped for the first time. An NIH-organized consortium accomplished this work using software from Berkeley Lab’s Computational Research Division, supercomputers at NERSC, and networking resources from the Department of Energy's ESnet. Read more.

Berkeley Lab Staff to Share Expertise, Experiences at 2012 International Supercomputing Conference

This week (June 17–21), an estimated 2,500 HPC experts from around the world will convene in Hamburg, Germany for the 2012 International Supercomputing Conference (ISC’12). Among the presenters will be six Berkeley Lab researchers. Now in its 27th year, ISC is the world’s oldest and one of the most important conferences for the HPC community, offering a five-day technical program with a wide range of expert speakers and exhibits from leading research centers and vendors.

Here’s a look at the Berkeley Lab participation:

Shane Canon of NERSC’s Technology Integration Group will give a talk on “Experiments Using Magellan Project, a Science Cloud Testbed” on Thursday, June 21.

On Sunday, June 17, Hank Childs co-presented a half-day tutorial on “Large Scale Data Visualization with VisIt.” A member of the CRD Visualization Group, Childs is the chief architect of VisIt.

Peter Nugent, co-leader of CRD’s Computational Cosmology Center, will discuss “Supernovae and Cosmology Using HPC” on Tuesday, June 19.

John Shalf, head of CRD’s Computer and Data Sciences Department, will give a talk on “Evolution of Programming Models in Response to Emerging Hardware Constraints” on Monday, June 18. Shalf will also participate in a panel discussion looking at “Programming Models in the Years to Come” on Thursday, June 21.

Berkeley Lab Deputy Director Horst Simon will chair a special session called “Exascale Chat” on Tuesday, June 19. Simon, one of the editors of the TOP500 list, will also participate in the presentation of awards reflecting the 39th TOP500 list during the opening session of the conference on Monday, June 18.

Also during the June 18 opening session, Erich Strohmaier will present highlights from the latest edition of the TOP500 list, which Strohmaier co-founded in 1993. Strohmaier will also give a talk on “Performance Analysis and Prediction for Distributed Homogeneous Clusters” on Monday, June 18. He is also the co-organizer of a June 19 Birds-of-a-Feather session on “Improving Power Measurement Methodology for Driving Energy Efficiency.”

Erich Strohmaier and the TOP500: A List That’s Taken on a Life of Its Own

Today (June 18) Erich Strohmaier will present the 39th edition of the TOP500 List during the opening session of the International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, Germany. On the 20th anniversary of the TOP500, this profile tracks the beginning of the list and Strohmaier's career: read more.

Wired Science Blog: A Random Walk with Pi

You know a mathematics paper is cool when it goes viral before it’s even been peer reviewed or published. That’s what happened last week when Samuel Arbesman, an applied mathematician and science blogger for Wired, posted “A Random Walk with Pi,” which discusses and presents images from the paper “Tools for visualizing real numbers: Planar number walks,” coauthored by David Bailey, head of the Complex Systems Group in the Computational Research Division, and three colleagues from Australia and Canada.

The authors finished the manuscript only at the end of May. They submitted it to a journal and distributed it to a few colleagues, including Steven Strogatz and Ivars Petersen, two well known writers about mathematics, who “tweeted” brief reports about the article. It was soon featured by The Aperiodical (a news site for mathematics), followed by the Wired blog a few days later. Even the Japanese edition of Wired ran a translation.

The widespread interest is understandable: visualizing massive datasets is a hot topic, and the authors tackled the mother of all big datasets—the digits of pi—utilizing modern techniques of scientific visualization. They produced what they believe must by one of the largest mathematical images ever produced: a walk on the first 100 billion base-4 digits of pi. The full-sized image has a resolution of 372,224 x 290,218 pixels (108.03 gigapixels in total).


A walk on the first 100 billion base-4 digits of pi.

Part of the original motivation for the study was to develop new tools for investigating the age-old problem of whether pi is “normal.” The paper offers various tools for representing floating point numbers as planar (or three dimensional) walks and for quantitatively measuring their “randomness.”

Jim Gagliardi and Joe Burrescia Are Retiring from ESnet

Childhood friends from Trinidad, Colorado who eventually helped each other’s careers, Jim Gagliardi and Joe Burrescia are retiring from ESnet—Gagliardi after 33 years of service and Burrescia after 20 years. To read more about their lives and careers, click here for Gagliardi and here for Burrescia.

This Week’s Computing Sciences Seminars

CS Seminar by Sayeef Salahuddin (details forthcoming)
Friday, June 22, 1:00–2:00 pm, 50F-1647
Sayeef Salahuddin, University of California, Berkeley

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.