Thursday, February 26, 2015

10 Questions with SC15 Student Programs Chair Jeanine Cook

In the months leading up to SC15, the conference communications team will be highlighting various aspects of the conference by asking questions of the volunteers leading those areas. 

In this first installment, SC15 Student Programs Chair, Jeanine Cook, talks about plans to broaden the size and scope of student activities at the conference.
Jeanine Cook, SC15 Student Programs Chair

Cook is a principal member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, where she works on several projects aimed at paving the way to exascale computing. Prior to joining Sandia, she was an associate professor in the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at New Mexico State University.

She earned her B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, in 1987, an M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1996, and her Ph.D. from New Mexico State University in 2002.

In 2008, she was recognized with the 2008 Presidential Early Career Award for her research in computer processor performance modeling. Another distinction not on her CV is her being “awarded” a ticket for speeding…in her wheelchair…in the Austin Convention Center at the SC08 conference. She clearly takes the idea of high performance seriously, no matter what she is pursuing. And when she wants to get away from it all, she’ll saddle up her horse and ride out into the New Mexico desert or wilderness. She enjoys reading about the history of the west as much as she likes exploring it. 

At SC15, most of the programs developed for students will be under a new umbrella – Student Programs. Can you tell us what that’s about? 
Essentially what we want to do is build a bigger student community at the SC conference, rather than having the students pocketed here and there, like in Student Volunteers and Experiencing HPC for Undergraduates. So we captured the pieces of the conference that students have been a part of to create a general student community. Then we plan to take that whole student community and plant it into the larger community. We’d like to make the student community more visible and encourage all attendees to mingle with each other. Ideally, at some session, a big group of students would show up and other attendees would wonder, “Who is that giant group?” We think if the students are more noticeable, they will become more engaged. 

What prompted this realignment?
A couple of things. Among the SC planning committee, we felt we weren’t doing a good enough job of integrating the students into the larger community. One of our concerns was about the next generation of HPC researchers – were there enough replacements coming up and how can we help them succeed? Another concern is that we want to make sure that students who attend SC remain engaged, that they submit posters and tech papers, as they continue in school and begin their careers.  
Students take on a variety of important roles at SC conferences
How will you know if this new approach is successful?   
We will submit a proposal to do a formal evaluation, hopefully over several years so we can continue to make improvements. We will also look for anecdotal data, such as asking students about their experiences. We also want to hear from other attendees about their experiences with the students, whether they served as a mentor, worked with a Student Volunteer, or whatever. 

You joined Sandia National Labs after 11 years as a professor at New Mexico State University. Based on that experience, how are you looking to make SC a richer experience for students? 
Well, I started out in industry as a rocket scientist, working for a division of McDonnell Douglas, so I come from a variety of different professional places. I hope we can let students know about the good parts and the not so good parts of various careers, so they can develop an idea of what to expect in each of those areas. We want to give them a balanced perspective. 
Jeanine Cook

You also received a Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering in 2008. What do you see as key factors for succeeding in those critical early years of a person’s career in HPC? 
My answer is that networking is very important. I kind of hate to say that, but I think it’s a big reason why I was successful. When you agree to give a talk here, attend a meeting there and serve on a committee over there, you meet a heck of a lot of people. So networking is super-important, just as being good at what you do is very important.

When I agreed to serve on panels, it wasn’t because I wanted to review a lot of proposals. You want to get people to know who you are and what you do. Then when they are putting together a proposal and wonder “Who does performance analysis, they think ‘Jeanine Cook does that.’”

But growing a network can be a painful process for students and people just starting out in their careers. That’s why it’s important for us to integrate them into the larger community. 

Looking back, was there one person who played a crucial role in your success? 
I don’t think there is just one person I can point to. It was a lot of people, which goes back to my networking comments. I met a lot of program managers and academics. Early in my career, because I made an effort to get to know a lot of other academics, they would tell me what to do and what not to do. Other women were often my biggest advocates, especially in academia. 

Now back to the present…what are you working on now? 
Holy-scamoley guacamole. I’ve got too many projects! My big project now is to define a beyond-exascale architecture. We’re looking at a processor in memory and storage type of solution. It’s not cmos-based. The goal is to define both the architecture and the programming model. We think it will have applications in areas other than scientific computing, such as neuromorphic systems.

Another big thing is understanding performance tool requirements for next-generation systems, like exascale. There are currently no tools to adequately measure performance at the exascale, so we’re looking at existing tools, then determining what tools we’ll need for next-generation systems and how we’ll build them. I love architecture, but I really love performance modeling and analysis. I like having lots of data, plotting it and figuring out what’s happening.

My other big project is Sandia’s Structure Simulation Toolkit. We have a team of amazing people and we’re trying to develop a framework for large-scale simulation of next-gen systems. At New Mexico State, I worked with a lot of grad students to create models of processors and we developed pretty accurate techniques. Now we are re-engineering them for large-scale modeling. 
Finally, I’m working with CAL, the Computer Architecture Lab project for DOE that’s developing abstract machine models. And I’m working on a resilience project, looking at what fails on current machines so we can try to get a handle on what will fail on next-generation systems. 
Jeanine on her horse "Ringo Star".
Some of your colleagues have commented on your intense focus once you get rolling on a project. What do you do to get away from it all? 
Eat chocolate and drink Pinot Grigio. Actually, riding my horse is my number one thing to do for fun. He’s the most beautiful, cutest horse on the face of the Earth. You will find no cuter horse. He’s a Tennessee Walker and his name is Star’s Red Ringo, but we call him Ringo Star. The beautiful thing is that from our house, you can ride for 100 miles on public lands. If you stand in our driveway and do a 360, every mountain you can see, I’ve been to the top of. Riding in the desert is fun, but the mountains are even funner.

Sometimes we come across old graves or graveyards. One time we were at Fort Mason, which was a fort on the old Butterfield Trail, and my husband plopped me down near the old trash pit. I found some old nails and pieces of old plates, but I’d really like to find an old relic, like the 132-year-old Winchester rifle someone recently found resting against a tree in Utah. That would be so cool to find something like that.

One of Jeanine's favorite activities.
With SC15, the conference returns to Austin. When you were there for SC08, you got a speeding ticket inside the convention center. Would you care to explain that? 

No comment.

One final question. You’ve been known to ask people “Who’s your momma and where’d you come from?” How would you answer that? 
I’m a Michigan State University baby, born in Lansing where my dad was earning his Ph.D. in physics. He then got a job with the National Bureau of Standards and we moved to Maryland. He then got a job as a government contractor and we moved to Colorado. I loved Colorado until it got too crowded, so I ran away to New Mexico in 1996 and finished my Ph.D. I got a job here, my husband got a job here, and here we are.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

LA Times Profiles How HPC is Transforming Hollywood

In a recent LA Times profile, Disney Animation is using supercomputers to make some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters and Oscar winners. According to the LA Times, in the making of "Big Hero 6," Disney Animation built a supercomputer that is roughly the same size as those operated by the Center for Computational Sciences at Japan's University of Tsukuba and the National Super Computer Center in Hunan, China, according to website, which ranks the largest supercomputers in the world.

"They actually run quite complex physics models [on supercomputers]," said Wilfred Pinfold, a supercomputing expert, and the SC15 HPC Matters chair. "If you actually run a physics model, you can sort of judge the math and … things are much more realistic.”

Click here to read the entire article.  The HPC Matters video with more details is also available below:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

SC15 to Strengthen, Enhance Programs for Students, Early Career Researchers

Student volunteers play a variety of important roles before and during the conference.

Revamped programs aimed at increasing diversity and supporting younger researchers at various career stages

For the past 15 years, the annual SC conference has welcomed hundreds of students to the week-long conference held every November, providing an entry into the community of high performance computing and networking. For SC15 in Austin, the student programs will be coordinated as a broader program to recruit a diverse group of students, ranging from undergrads to graduate students, as well as researchers who are in the early stages of their careers after graduating.

Through various programs, students can get their first introduction to supercomputing, compete in a grueling contest to assemble and run a computing cluster, learn about career options from mentors, present their research through posters and presentations, and participate in professional development sessions. For the first time, a focused program is also planned for early career scientists.

“The SC conference has a strong track record of supporting students and striving to increase the number of students from under-represented groups, which is critical for our community,” said SC15 General Chair Jackie Kern, leader of an IT department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “To build on our past successes and create a more cohesive student program, I am very happy to say that Jeanine Cook of Sandia National Laboratories has agreed to chair our student programs.”

Cook’s experience gives her strong qualifications for the tasks ahead. She was an associate professor at the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at New Mexico State University for 11 years. In 2008, she was a recipient of the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The award was presented to Cook by President George W. Bush during a White House ceremony. In 2013, Cook accepted an offer to join the staff at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque. She has also helped organize student programs at SC conferences since 2008.

“The SC15 theme is ‘HPC Transforms’ and we’re looking to do as much as we can so that our student attendees’ ideas about school and careers are also transformed,” Cook said. “In my 10 years as a professor, I saw many times how just the right opportunity or word of encouragement could have a powerful effect on a student’s career choice and development. At SC15, we want to provide that kind of inspiration to as many students as possible.”

Here is a look at the various components of the SC15 Student Program:

Student Volunteers: Launched at SC99, Student Volunteers often serves as a way to introduce computer science students to the field of high performance computing. In exchange for helping with administrative tasks, students can attend technical sessions and learn from leading vendors and research organizations. New for SC15: Student Volunteers program will be significantly increased in size and scope with the goal of attracting a broader, more diverse group, helping them come together as a community and spend more time experiencing the conference technical and interacting with other attendees. Applications for Student Volunteers open March 16, close June 1.

Student Cluster Competition: The Student Cluster Competition was created in 2007 to introduce the next generation of students to the high performance computing community and gives teams of students hands-on experience. In this real-time, non-stop, 48-hour challenge, teams of undergraduate and/or high school students will assemble a small cluster on the SC15 exhibit floor and race to demonstrate the greatest sustained performance across a series of applications. Over the last couple of years, the competition has drawn teams from around the world, including Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Germany, Russia, Taiwan and the USA. Applications are now open, but close April 17.

HPC for Undergraduates: HPC for Undergraduates was launched at SC12 and then extended for three more years. The idea of providing a focused program integrated with the main technical program has proven successful. New for SC15: The program plans to introduce a focused Mentor/Protégé component. The HPC for Undergraduates program will form the basis for a new HPC for Early Career Researchers program Applications open March 16, close June 1.

The Mentor/Protégé Program also started at SC09 as part of the Broader Engagement program, matching students with volunteer mentors prior to the conference. The program, which aims to match protégés and mentors with similar technical backgrounds, will continue at SC15.

The ACM Student Research Competition Posters: This technical poster program provides an introductory route for students to begin presenting their research to the broader community. The student poster competition will again be part of the Technical Program at SC15. Participants in the SC15 Student Programs will be encouraged to attend the poster presentations to begin thinking about their own participation at future conferences. Submissions open Feb. 16, close July 31.

The Student-Postdoc Job & Opportunity Fair was first held during SC09 and has continued to grow. Interested students can meet with leading exhibitors and have the opportunity to submit their resumes in advance to introduce themselves. The job fair will be part of the Student Programs at SC15.

The Doctoral Showcase debuted at SC07 as a venue to showcase research by students earning Ph.D.s in fields related to high performance computing. At SC15, It will be part of the Technical Program with active support from Student Programs and participants will be encouraged to network with Student Program attendees. Submissions open Feb. 16, close July 31.

“By slightly adapting some of the programs, we aim to give students a better foundation for making the most of their week at the conference,” Cook said. “By having more focused interactions with their peers, with mentors and potential employers and members of the global HPC community, we believe we will also provide them with experiences and knowledge that they can use in planning their own career paths.”

Dr. Ing. Bernd Mohr Selected as one of HPCwire’s 2015 “People to Watch"

Dr. Ing Bernd Mohr
Dr. Ing. Bernd Mohr, SC17 General Chair, has been named one of the “People to Watch” in High Performance Computing (HPC) for 2015 by HPCwire, an online news portal that covers supercomputing. Each year, HPCwire recognizes a small group of individuals that are the best and brightest minds in HPC whose hard work, dedication, and contributions reach far beyond HPC and shape the direction that technology is taking us.

Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

SC15 Announces Student Cluster Competition Details

Last year’s overall SCC winner was the team from University of Texas – Austin – pictured here with SCC14 co-chairs Dustin Leverman (far left) and Barbara Chapman (far right) .
SC15 is excited to hold another nail-biting Student Cluster Competition, or SCC, now in its 9th year, as an opportunity to showcase student expertise in a friendly yet spirited competition. Held as part of SC15 Student Programs, the SCC is designed to introduce the next generation of students to the high-performance computing community. Over the years, the competition has drawn teams from throughout the United States and around the world.

In this real-time, non-stop, 48-hour challenge, teams of undergraduate and/or high school students assemble a small cluster on the SC15 exhibit floor and race to complete a real-world workload across a series of applications and impress HPC industry judges. In the competition, teams of six (6) students partner with vendors to design and build a cutting-edge cluster from commercially available components that does not exceed a 3120-watt power limit (26-amp at 120-volt), and work with application experts to tune and run the competition codes.

More information about this year’s competition can be found here:Competition Rules & Submission Guidelines and Competition Applications

Important Dates
Team submissions to compete in the SC15 SCC will be accepted from February 2, 2015 - April 17, 2015. Notifications of team acceptance into the SC15 SCC will go out the week of May 11, 2015.

Team submissions must be completed here.

NOTE:  Teams that are accepted to the competition will need to submit a final architecture proposal by October 2, 2015 through the submission site.

Contact the organizing committee here: 

Frequently updated information about the competition details can be found here.


The SCC is funded by the SC conference and by generous sponsors who understand the importance of building the next generation of HPC.  If you are interested in sponsoring the SCC, please contact us for sponsorship levels and benefits.  Sponsorship levels range from $5,000 to $25,000.

SC15 Announces New Test of Time Award Details

The SC Test of Time Award (ToTA) Committee is soliciting nominations for this year’s Test-of-Time Award to be given at the SC15 conference in November in Austin, Texas.  The ToTA recognizes an outstanding paper that has deeply influenced the HPC discipline. It is a mark of historical impact and recognition that the paper has changed HPC trends.

The award is also an incentive for researchers and students to send their best work to the SC conference and a tool to understand why and how results last in the HPC discipline.  Papers that appeared in the SC conference series are considered for this award.  A paper must be at least 10 years old, from 1988 to 2005, inclusive; papers from 18 years of conferences are eligible.


Which papers are eligible for the 2015 SC ToTA?
Only papers published at SC conferences between 1988 - 2005 inclusive. The complete SC proceedings can be found by clicking here.

Who can nominate a paper?
Anyone can nominate a paper except the author or co-author of the nominated paper.

Is there a limit on the number of papers one person can nominate?
Yes. One can nominate up to five papers from all eligible papers. These five papers can be published at any eligible year.

When is the last day to submit a nomination?
Nominations must be received by March 31, 2015.

How should a nomination be submitted?
 Nominations must be submitted by clicking here.

Selection process 

SC ToTA committee will evaluate all submitted nominations and eligible SC papers to select the SC15 Test of Time Award.  The committee will produce an award citation and a $1,000 prize for the selected paper. ToTA Committee Member paper’s are not eligible for this award.

Who are the current SC15 ToTA committee members?
  • Jack Dongarra, co-chair
  • Mary Hall, co-chair
  • David Abramson
  • Bill Gropp
  • Michael Heroux
  • Liz Jessup
  • Rusty Lusk
  • Leonid Oliker
  • Padma Ragahavan
  • Yves Robert
  • Valerie Taylor
  • Mateo Valero

When will the award be announced and given?
The award will be presented to the authors of the selected paper at the SC15 conference in November in Austin TX. The authors will be asked to give a presentation in a non-plenary session (typically 45 minutes).

What does the award consist of?
An award certificate, $1,000, and peer recognition.

What is the deadline?
We invite anyone to submit a nomination by the deadline of March 31st, 2015. Please submit your nomination by clicking here.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

SC15 Chair Jackie Kern Explains How HPC is Transforming the World

SC15 General Chair Jackie Kern from the University of Illinois explains the vision behind this year's theme "HPC Transforms" and provides numerous examples of how HPC is transforming the world.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Call for Poster Submissions

SC15 poster submission is now open and is a great way to gain recognition for your work.
SC15 is soliciting submissions for posters that display cutting-edge research and work in progress in high performance computing, storage, networking and analysis. Posters provide an excellent opportunity for short presentations and informal discussions with Conference attendees.
Manish Parashar

“Posters are an excellent opportunity to present your work and get feedback and recognition from both your peers and industry experts,” said Manish Parashar, SC15 Posters Chair from Rutgers University.  “Furthermore it opens up doors for collaboration and can catapult a concept or work in progress to the next level.”

Posters will be prominently displayed for the duration of the Conference, giving presenters a chance to showcase their latest results and innovations. The presented posters will be digitally archived and made publicly available after the Conference. A Best Poster Award will be presented based on quality of research work and quality of poster presentation.

ACM Student Research Competition (SRC): SC15 will also host the ACM Student Research Competition (SRC). This competition will feature posters from undergraduate and graduate students showcasing original student research. An SRC poster may be authored by exactly one graduate student or up to 2 undergraduate students (optionally with the advisor). Student authors must be active ACM members.

Posters encourage sharing of ideas.
The ACM SRC pre-selection will happen during the poster reception and selected poster presenters will be given the opportunity to present their work in short talks on Wednesday. The ACM SRC committee will select a set of winners based on their poster content and presentation style. ACM’s SRC program covers expenses up to $500 for all students invited to the SRC.

Embedded Multimedia Content: This year, we are encouraging authors to explore the integration of remotely hosted multimedia elements accessible through embedded QR codes into the poster. The goal of the embedded multimedia elements should be to enhance the presentation of research in the poster. Such elements may include a video narration of the poster by the author, links to results, movies, graphics, datasets, codes, etc.

Often times posters encourage collaboration.
Note that extended versions of the poster or related publications will not be considered as acceptable multimedia elements in this context. The elements will be expected to be accessible using QR readers on smart phones and tablets (such as the reader included in the SC mobile app) during the Conference while the poster is displayed.

While the use of multimedia is not mandatory, creative multimedia integrations will be considered while evaluating posters for the Best Poster Award. Note that the Conference will not provide services or infrastructure for hosting the embedded content.

As in past years, SC15 is soliciting two different types of posters: (1) Regular Posters and (2) ACM Student Research Competition Posters. Submissions for either type of poster must include:
(1)    A 150 word abstract,
(2)    A draft of the poster, and
(3)    An up to 800 word extended abstract/summary (including references) in the SC15 technical paper format.

There are separate submission forms for the two different types of posters. A poster may only be submitted as one type. Posters are expected to be a single page of A0 paper size in portrait mode (841 × 1189mm/33.1 x 46.8 in).

All posters can be submitted in up to two of the following categories: Algorithms; Applications; Architectures and Networks; Clouds and Distributed Computing; Data Analytics, Visualization and Storage; Performance; Programming Systems; State-of-the-Practice; System Software; and Education.

For submission details, see the sample submission forms at the login page of the submission website.

SC15 Posters Chair
Manish Parashar (Rutgers University)

SC15 Posters Vice Co-Chairs
Dorian Arnold (University of New Mexico)
Michela Becchi (University of Missouri - Columbia)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

How SC15 is Transforming Student Lives

Attention students! Applications are now open for the #‎SC15‬ Student Cluster Competition. Show off your ‪#‎HPC‬ skills and apply here:

Still have more questions? Check out this video for some insights into how this competition transforms lives:

‪#‎STEM‬ ‪#‎TechEd‬ ‪#‎Compsci‬ ‪#‎HPCtransforms‬ ‪#‎HPCmatters‬