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Berkeley Lab’s Computational Science Expertise Recognized under SciDAC-2 Program

September 7, 2006

Berkeley Lab’s expertise and leadership in computational science was recognized and rewarded Sept. 7, 2006, when DOE Under Secretary for Science Ray Orbach announced the second round of projects under the Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) program, to be funded at $60 million per year.

The SciDAC program, launched in 2001, brings together some of the nation’s top researchers at national laboratories and universities to create the software and infrastructure needed to help scientists effectively utilize the next generation of supercomputers for tackling the toughest scientific challenges – some of which can only be studied through high performance computation and simulation. A hallmark of the program is collaboration between scientific application teams and groups working to develop software tools for improving the scientific codes. More information can be found at www.scidac.gov.

Of the 30 projects announced, Berkeley Lab researchers will lead five and play key roles in eight others. The LBNL projects, most of which are five years in length, will be funded at about $10 million annually.

“This is very exciting and very welcome news in that all of the proposals were rigorously reviewed and we were selected to contribute in significant ways to nearly half of the projects,” said Associate Lab Director for Computing Sciences Horst Simon. “What is especially gratifying is that funding at LBNL has increased compared to SciDAC-1 and our contributions were such that DOE felt the work should continue. When you look at the big picture, it’s clear that Berkeley Lab is one of the foremost institutions for computational science.”

The Applied Partial Differential Equations Center established under the first round of SciDAC develops simulation tools for solving multi-scale and multi-physics problems. Their algorithms have been used to create laboratory-scale turbulent flame simulations, study refueling of fusion reactors and model combustion in supernovae. The center will continue under the leadership of Phil Colella of the Computational Research Division (CRD).

The Scientific Data Management Center will also be continued under SciDAC-2. Led by Arie Shoshani of CRD, the center develops tools to improve the sharing and analysis of massive amounts of data from both simulations and experiments. One of its key accomplishment under the first round of SciDAC was the development of FastBit, an indexing method which enables data searches up to 10 times faster than commercial search tools.

A new center created under SciDAC-2 will be theVisualization and Analytics Center for Enabling Technologies (VACET), led by CRD’s Wes Bethel, will develop tools to help scientists effectively understand and make use of the growing amounts of data. The VACET center will respond directly to this challenge by adapting, extending, creating when necessary, and deploying technologies that will enable our scientific stakeholders to visualize and understand the wealth of data now available to them.

Another new projected centered at Berkeley Lab will be the SciDAC Outreach Center, to be led by David Skinner. Located at NERSC, the center will provide information and services that support SciDAC outreach, training, and research objectives. Additionally, the Center will gather data to understand the needs of the HPC community to identify workshops, summer schools, institutes and research topics to meet those needs.

Several new scientific domains, including biology and underground transport, were added to SciDAC as part of the second round. Steven Brenner of Physical Biosciences, along with Michael Jordan of UC Berkeley, are co-leaders of the Robust and Precise Gene Function Predictions on a Genomic Scale project. This project will refine algorithms to automate a process for predicting the functions of proteins in a family of microbes. By better understanding the function of these proteins, DOE hopes to harness the potential of microbial communities for the remediation of contaminated sites, development of smart sensors, and the bio-generation of hydrogen and ethanol.

Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences staff in CRD and the NERSC Division will also serve as co-investigators in eight other SciDAC projects addressing research issues in astrophysics, sharing and managing massive amounts of scientific data, developing software for next-generation supercomputers, developing new software tools for studying complex problems, and assessing and improving the performance of large-scale computers.

More information about the SciDAC program can be found at www.scidac.gov.

About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

The Computing Sciences Area at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing Department of Energy Office of Science research missions: developing new energy sources, improving energy efficiency, developing new materials, and increasing our understanding of ourselves, our world, and our universe.

Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’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 energy.gov/science.