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InTheLoop | 11.05.2001

The Weekly Electronic Newsletter for Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences employees.

November 5, 2001

Berkeley Lab to Roll Out Access Grid Robot at SC2001 Conference


For the past five months, a group of Computing Sciences employees have
been devoting their spare time to building a Remote Access Grid Entity
(RAGE) robot as a vehicle for increasing the usefulness of the Access
Grid. The RAGE effort builds upon collaborative software developed over
the years by NERSC's Distributed Systems Department, as well as the
robot-building experience of NERSC's John Shalf and ITSD's Zach Radding.
Built of off-the-shelf components and encased in a custom shell built by
Zach in his garage on a recent weekend, RAGE will be driven via a
computer interface, connected by wireless, and equipped with a small
camera, LCD screen and speakers to allow two-way communication with the
robot wherever it roams. The robot is envisioned as a way to feed more
information into the Access Grid and will make its debut at the SC2001
conference being held next week in Denver, capturing both technical
presentations and interactions in the exhibit hall. Once it returns to
Berkeley Lab, RAGE is expected to provide remote tours of the Oakland
Scientific Facility.

The RAGE Team includes John Shalf, Zach Radding, Deb Agarwal, Keith
Jackson, Marcia Perry, Martin Stoufer, Joshua Boverhof, Dan Gunter, Eve
Edelson (of Environmental Energy Technologies Division) and Clayton
Bagwell. Photos of the team and the robot in various stages of
construction can be found at http://www-itg.lbl.gov/~deba/RAGE/.

The Access Grid (AG), is designed to support group-to-group
communication and collaborative work sessions and RAGE was designed to
take the AG beyond the walls of specially built facilities and make the
AG more accessible and useful. RAGE is four-wheel drive and four-wheel
steer and is remotely operated using 802.11 wireless network technology.
This will allow RAGE to explore the SC2001 exhibit hall, attend
technical sessions and attend plenary sessions. The RAGE robot provides
the remote participant a physical presence in the room and thus a more
direct means of interacting with remote participants. In addition, RAGE
can provide AG input and interaction in locations that are not equipped
with an AG node such as the plenary sessions at SC.

Equipped with a camera, RAGE will be controlled by one person but will
feed information out to the world via the AG. The control connection is
also secure, providing protection from unwanted interference. Some day,
this technology could allow a robot to be a stand-in at technical
conferences, allowing people to watch presentations and interact with
presenters, but without the hassle and expense of traveling to distant
meetings.


Lab's Linux Users Group Nov. 6 Meeting to Feature VMware Speakers


Kenon Owens, David Wooten and Mark Pueschel of VMware
(http://www.vmware.com/) will be speaking at the next meeting of the
Linux Users Group, starting at noon Tuesday, November 6, in Perseverance
Hall. The speakers will present an overview and history of VMware,
discuss functionality (present and future of workstation/server
products), give details of how VMware works and give demonstrations. All
interested Linux users are invited.


NERSC to Host Kickoff Meeting This Week for SciDAC Algorithm Project


Phil Colella, a leader of the "Algorithmic and Software Framework for
Applied Partial Differential Equations" project under DOE's Scientific
Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) program, will host a
workshop here on Thursday and Friday to launch the project. The goal is
to develop a high-performance framework for solving partial differential
equations arising from problems in magnetic fusion, accelerator design
and combustion - key mission areas for the DOE. Also attending the
workshop will be DOE Program Managers Chuck Romine, Buff Miner and Fred
Johnson from the Mathematical, Information and Computational Sciences
Division.

The Thursday agenda includes an overview of the program, the perspective
from DOE headquarters, discussions of applications in accelerator
design, combustion and magnetic fusion, a laying out of the software
development plan, discussions of collaborations and breakout sessions on
grid generation, adaptive mesh, particle methods software/applications,
and embedded boundary software/applications. Friday's agenda includes
talks on algorithm development by participants in the project and a
roundtable discussion on project planning, milestones, and deliverables.

For more information, visit the project Web page at
http://davis.lbl.gov/APDEC/.


New Web Site Allows You to Look for Names, Words in First 4 Billion Digits of Pi


David Bailey has announced a new Web-based tool for exploring the
randomness of the binary digits of pi. David, who has been thinking
about the digits of pi for years, and his colleague, Richard Crandall of
Reed College, wrote a paper earlier this year about the randomness of
the digits of pi -- i.e., the property that every string of digits
appears as often as one would expect if the digits were generated at
random. The new Web site at http://pi.nersc.gov/ allows anyone to enter
a string of characters or hexidecimal digits and see if and when it
turns up in the first 4 billion binary digits of pi.

The character-string search tool assigns each letter a five-digit
number. For example, NERSC translates to 0111000101100101001100011. The
tool then looks up those numbers (rather than searching through all 4
billion digits) and pinpoints where they are found ("NERSC" is found at
binary index 1473083792). The page notes that there is about a 100
percent probability that any string of four letters will be found, with
the probability decreasing as the number of characters increases.

David credits Jed Donnelley, Victor Ruhle and Evan Welbourne for their
help with design and implementation of software, and Yasumasa Kanada of
the University of Tokyo Computer Centre, for kindly providing the first
4 billion bits of pi.


About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) Computing Sciences Area provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC) 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). NERSC and ESnet are both Department of Energy Office of Science National User Facilities. The Computational Research Division (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.

Berkeley Lab 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.

The DOE Office of Science is the United States' single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.