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InTheLoop | 02.02.2015

February 2, 2015

Feb. 13 Lab Workshop on TrueNorth, IBM’s Brain-inspired Computer

The Computational Research Division, in collaboration with IBM, will host an all-day workshop on TrueNorth, IBM's brain-inspired machine, on Friday, February 13. TrueNorth is an efficient, scalable and flexible non–von Neumann architecture that leverages contemporary silicon technology. The workshop begins at 9 a.m. in the Bldg. 50 auditorium with a general session providing an introduction to TrueNorth, programming on the chip as well as science applications and analysis suitable for this device. Lab staff interested in participating in afternoon breakout sessions should contact Peter Nugent at penugent@lbl.gov.

About TrueNorth: IBM has built a 5.4 billion-transistor chip with 4,096 neurosynaptic cores interconnected via an intrachip network that integrates 1 million programmable spiking neurons and 256 million configurable synapses while consuming only 20 milliwatts per square centimeter. The architecture is well suited to many applications that use complex neural networks in real time, including multiobject detection and classification. Research on this chip was published in Science this past year.

NERSC Launches Industry Partnerships Program

NERSC has launched a private sector partnership program that will give commercial technology developers working in key areas, access to the facility's supercomputers, customer support and data management expertise. 

One San Francisco Bay Area company already taking advantage of the new program is QuantumScape, a San Jose-based startup commercializing technology licensed from Stanford to create batteries that are energy-dense and safer than standard lithium ion batteries. »Read more.

PASC15 Seeks Proposals for Zurich Conference

Researchers from the academic and corporate world are invited to participate and present their research in the form of minisymposia, contributed talks and/or poster presentations at The Swiss Platform for Advanced Scientific Computing meeting, PASC15. Held in Zurich, June 1-3, PASC15 welcomes submissions in 

  • Climate and Weather
  • Solid Earth
  • Life Science
  • Chemistry and Materials
  • Physics
  • Computer Science and Mathematics
  • Engineering
  • Emerging Domains

Abstracts should describe original, interesting, and solid scientific content that is relevant to computational sciences and HPC. Cross-disciplinary approaches are encouraged.

Submissions Deadlines

Abstracts for minisymposia: February 20, 2015
Abstracts for contributed talks: March 2, 2015
Abstracts for poster presentations: March 30, 2015.

»Submit abstracts online.

»Learn more about PASC15.

CRD's Peisert Guest Edits Special Issue of IEEE's Security and Privacy

CRD's Sean Peisert recently guest-edited a special issue of IEEE Security & Privacy. Peisert, who also serves as member of the publication's editorial board, was responsible for a special issue focusing on "Control Systems Security for the Energy Sector." Its six-peer reviewed articles were written by researchers at U.S. national labs, U.S. and international academic institutions, and industry. »Read more.

LBNL Research Tops Congressional Testimony in Exascale Hearings

On January 28, the Energy Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a hearing on Supercomputing and American Technology Leadership. Among those giving testimony was Roscoe Giles, professor of computer science at Boston University and chairman of the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee, which reports to DOE’s Office of Science.

In his testimony, Giles cited a number of scientific accomplishments made possible by supercomputers. His top three recent examples were all led by Berkeley Lab researchers. »Read more.

perfSONAR Workshop Helps Network Engineers Improve Network Performance for Big Data

Brian Tierney, group leader of the ESnet Advanced Network Technologies Group, and Jason Zurawski, an ESnet science engagement engineer, were the featured speakers at “perfSONAR Deployment Best Practices, Architecture, and Moving the Needle,” organized by ESnet and Internet2 and hosted Jan. 21-22 by the Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet) in Columbus, Ohio. The network engineers and developers who attended the event hailed from Brazil and across the U.S.; they represented higher education, regional optical networks and businesses that work extensively with researchers. »Read more.

Ibrahim: CRD's Scientific Speed Racer

As a boy growing up in Egypt, Khaled Ibrahim was fascinated with learning about the things that were the fastest, strongest or biggest, whether it was a car, a horse or even a camel.

“I thought I would enjoy riding a fast horse, or driving a car fast, but I never got much fun out of it and it was mostly a scary experience,” he says now. “HPC fulfilled my desire of having a fast ride, in my case racing to find a scientific answer.”

As a member of the Computer Languages and Systems Software Group in the Computational Research Division, Ibrahim specializes in performance tuning – going under the hood of supercomputers and figuring out how to increase their performance while running scientific applications.

At the SC14 conference held in November 2014, Ibrahim’s tuning expertise helped him win the HPC Challenge for the fastest performance of a Fast Fourier Transformation (FFT) application. »Read more.

Call for AAAS Family Science Day Volunteers

Berkeley Lab is seeking 10 volunteers to lead hands-on science activities with visitors in the Lab's booth at Family Science Day to be held Saturday and Sunday, Feb 14 and 15, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the San Jose Convention Center. Family Science Day is a free public event held in conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in San Jose.

Five Lab volunteers are needed each day to staff the booth for three-hour shifts. We will have microscope and diffraction grating activities in our exhibit booth. No experience is necessary. Volunteers are needed as follows:

Saturday, Feb 14
11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. (2 volunteers)
12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (1 volunteer)
2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. (2 volunteers)

Sunday, Feb 15
11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. (2 volunteers)
12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (1 volunteer)
2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. (2 volunteers)

If you are available to help with this outreach event, please »register as a family day volunteer.

The Lab will cover round trip mileage to San Jose and parking expenses for volunteers. You will also receive a Berkeley Lab t-shirt to wear while you are in the booth. It is yours to keep. Please note that your exhibitor badge will not allow entry into AAAS conference proceedings or meetings, it is only for the Family Science Day portion of the exhibit hall. »Contact Mary Connolly with questions.

Since the event is free to the public you are encouraged to make a day of it and bring your family. The event will feature 40 exhibitors and hands-on science-learning activities for all ages, plus a jam-packed "Meet the Scientists" speaker series designed especially for middle- and high-school students. »Learn more about Family Science Day.

This Week's CS Seminars

»CS Seminars Calendar

Applied Mathematics: What are the Navier-Stokes Equations of Sand Flow? Some challenges in theoretical and computational continuum mechanics

Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2:10 – 3 p.m., 939 Evans Hall, UC Berkeley
Ken Kamrin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The challenge of predicting the flow behavior of a collection of grains has proven to be a difficult one, from both computational and theoretical perspectives. Unlike Newtonian fluids or linear elastic solids, a continuum model representing the effect of millions of particles interacting through dissipative, frictional contacts has remained a largely open endeavor since it was first considered by Coulomb in the late 1700's. Brute force grain-by-grain discrete element methods can be used, but these approaches become computationally unrealistic for large bodies of material and long times.

In this talk we propose a new, non-local continuum relation for granular matter, which is shown to predict granular flow and stress fields in hundreds of different geometries. The model is constructed in a step-by-step fashion. First a local, elasto-visoplastic flow relation is derived based on the principle of inertial scaling. The clearest missing ingredient is shown to be the lack of an intrinsic length-scale to represent the cooperativity that a finite grain size asserts on the flow. We account for this with a carefully justified implicit non-local term, which introduces a single new material parameter, and converts the flow rule into a separate PDE that couples directly with the momentum balance PDE. The model is numerically implemented with a custom finite-element scheme. Under a single parameter calibration, the non-local model quantitatively predicts the flow and stress data from ~200 experiments of spherical bead systems in several different families of geometries. Moreover, it is the first model to accurately predict all features of flows in "split-bottom cells", a decade-long open problem in the field. We show that the same model also reconciles other "unusual" features of granular media, such as the observation that thinner granular layers behave as if they are stronger, and the motion-induced quicksand effect wherein flow at one location eliminates the yield stress everywhere.

CITRIS Seminar: Harnessing Technology to Empower Marginalized Communities

Wednesday, Feb. 4, 12 – 1 p.m., Banatao Auditorium, 310 Sutardja Dai Hall, UC Berkeley
Emily Jacobi, Digital Democracy

As Internet and communications technologies rapidly advance, digital tools are transforming the lives of people around the globe. However, access to these tools remains unevenly distributed, and very rarely are new technologies designed by and for the most vulnerable communities. What happens when traditionally marginalized groups are placed at the center of this process? What new tools are created? How are these leveraged for environmental and human rights purposes?

From mobiles and mapping to data collection and storytelling, this talk will focus on the lessons learned and approaches pioneered by Digital Democracy’s work in dozens of countries over the past six years. From addressing gender-based violence in Haiti to combating oil contamination and deforestation in the Amazon, Digital Democracy’s partnerships with grassroots organizations demonstrate the possibilities for technology to be effectively leveraged by local groups.

Lunch is provided at UC Berkeley for those who register in advance. »More.

TRUST Security Seminar: Stuxnet and the Age of CyberWarfare

Wednesday, Feb. 5, 1 – 2 p.m., 240 Bechtel Engineering Ctr, UC Berkeley
Kim Zetter, WIRED magazine

In January 2010, inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency noticed that centrifuges at a uranium enrichment plant in Iran were failing and being replaced at an unprecedented rate. The cause of their failure was a complete mystery. Five months later, a computer security firm in Belarus was called in to troubleshoot computers in Iran that were caught in a reboot loop — crashing and rebooting repeatedly. At first, technicians with the firm believed the malicious code they found on the machines was a simple, routine piece of malware. But as they and other experts around the world investigated, they discovered a virus of unparalleled complexity that was designed to cause physical destruction to equipment used for Iran's nuclear program. They had, they soon learned, stumbled upon the world’s first digital weapon. WIRED journalist Kim Zetter will talk about how Stuxnet pulled off its feat and how a group of security geeks managed to unwittingly unravel a sabotage campaign years in the making. She'll also discuss how vulnerabilities in our own critical systems make them susceptible to a Stuxnet-like strike