Monday, August 31, 2015

SC15 Workshops More Vibrant than Ever!

The SC15 Workshops program has broken the record for the largest number of workshops since its inception, and will be as vibrant as ever. The Workshop program includes 22 full-day and 20 half-day workshops distributed across Sunday November 15, Monday November 16, and Friday morning of November 20. The high-value workshops selected this year by a rigorous peer-reviewed process focus on in-depth presentations, discussion, and interaction on topics of interest to the HPC community.

“The diverse set of topics featured at the SC15 workshops this year is unique to no other conference” said Workshops Chair Michela Taufer (University of Delaware). “Long time hosted workshops with an exciting and well-established audience will be held side by side with newer workshops on emerging topics. For example workshops like DISCO and VHPC are in their 10th edition, while many new workshops are responding to demands for the exascale era, like the new 1st. Numerical Reproducibility at Exascale workshop.”

Attendees can indeed choose among workshops that target technical HPC aspects associated to e.g., irregular applications, architectures and algorithms, such as IA^3, participate in the discussion about educational techniques for fostering parallel programming in undergraduate and graduate curriculums, learn more about the challenges that face women in HPC, or appreciate how HPC is revolutionizing applications all over the sciences with, for example, new computational approaches for cancer.

“While several workshops are wrapping up their program, others are still collecting paper submissions and can serve as a great target for new attendees to present their work at SC15 for the first time” said Workshops vice-Chair Trilce Estrada  (University of New Mexico). The SC15 workshop webpage provides the complete list of workshops. Authors looking for a home for their work can learn more about individual workshops’ scope and URL by clicking on particular workshop names in the program.

“This year, we wanted to encourage attendees to participate in several workshops, across the three days, by introducing a single, small fee of $40 for students and $90 for regular attendees. This pass has to be added to their technical program registration” said the Technical Program Chair Jeffrey Vetter (ORNL). “We hope many colleagues who register for the regular technical program will take advantage of this new opportunity,” he added.

There are no doubts that workshops at SC15, with their rich programs, will complement the overall SC15 Technical Program events, expanding the knowledge of their attendees on subject areas, and extending the HPC impact with greater depth of focus. Register before October 15 and enjoy any workshop at SC for the new single, small registration fee!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Science Advocate and Emmy Award Winning Actor Alan Alda to Open SC15

Alan Alda is the SC15 Keynote Speaker.
SC15 announces that noted science communicator and award-winning actor Alan Alda will discuss the role of science in our society and the intersection of science and computing as he delivers the keynote address November 17, 2015 in Austin, TX (USA).

“High performance computing has a transformational impact on science in our society,” observes SC15 general chair Jackie Kern, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. “For decades scientists and engineers have relied on high performance computing to advance the state of the art in diverse fields ranging from healthcare and automotive safety to renewable energy."

She continues, "Computing is now fully integrated into the scientific discovery process, an equal partner with theory and experiment in improving the quality of life for all members of our global society. Mr. Alda’s focus on communicating the benefits of science to the public—and how we can all do this more effectively—makes him uniquely positioned to help SC continue to bridge the gaps in science understanding and highlight our role in the discovery process.”

Mr. Alda—actor, writer, science advocate, and Visiting Professor at Stony Brook University—will share his passion for science communication and its importance, drawing on his personal experiences including his 11 years as host of the TV series Scientific American Frontiers. Throughout his 40-year career, he has won seven Emmys, six Golden Globes, and three Directors Guild of America awards for directing. Alda also hosted the 2010 PBS mini-series The Human Spark and wrote Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie, a play about the personal life of the great scientist who discovered radium. He teamed up with PBS again in 2013 for Brains on Trial, a neurological look at brains in the court room.

A recipient of the National Science Board’s Public Service Award, Alda is a visiting professor at and founding member of Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, where he helps develop innovative programs on how scientists communicate with the public. He is also on the Board of Directors of the World Science Festival.

About SC15
SC15, sponsored by ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) and IEEE Computer Society offers a complete technical education program and exhibition to showcase the many ways high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis lead to advances in scientific discovery, research, education and commerce. This premier international conference includes a globally attended technical program, workshops, tutorials, a world class exhibit area, demonstrations and opportunities for hands-on learning. For more information on SC15, please visit, or contact for more information.

About ACM
ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Finalists Compete for Prestigious ACM Gordon Bell Prize in High Performance Computing

Winners to be announced at SC15 in Austin, TX (USA)

Austin, TX (USA) –  August 20, 2015 – Five outstanding research efforts in high performance technical computing have been selected as finalists in supercomputing’s most prestigious competition, the ACM Gordon Bell Prize in High Performance Computing. The $10,000 prize will be presented to a single winner during SC15 in Austin, TX (USA).

The Gordon Bell Prize recognizes the extraordinary progress made each year in the innovative application of parallel computing to challenges in science, engineering, and large-scale data analytics. Prizes may be awarded for peak performance or special achievements in scalability and time-to-solution on important science and engineering problems. Financial support of the $10,000 prize is made possible by Gordon Bell, a pioneer in high-performance and parallel computing and past winner of the IEEE Seymour Cray Award for his exceptional contributions in the design of several computer systems that changed the world of high performance computing.

Gordon Bell prize finalists are selected by a committee comprising past Gordon Bell winners, as well as leaders in the field of high performance computing. Solving an important scientific or engineering problem in HPC is important, but scientific outcomes alone are not sufficient for this prize—finalists are selected from submissions that describe the innovations of the project, detail the performance levels achieved on one or more real-world applications, and outline what the implications of the approach are for the broader HPC community.

“The task of selecting this year’s finalists was difficult, but rewarding,” notes co-chair of ACM’s Award committee, Cherri M. Pancake of Oregon State University. “Each year the Bell submissions reflect the very best of what is happening in the high performance computing technical community and the progress that has been made in applying these remarkable computing resources to society’s most challenging problems.”

This year’s finalists represent the broad impact that the field of high performance computing has across the many disciplines of science and engineering:
  • “Massively Parallel Models of the Human Circulatory System,” with research led by Amanda Randles of Duke University and a team of collaborators from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and IBM (abstract)
  • “The In-Silico Lab-On-A-Chip: Petascale And High-Throughput Simulations Of Microfluidics At Cell Resolution,” led by Diego Rossinelli of ETH Zurich and an international team of researchers from Brown University, the University of Italian Switzerland, the National Research Council of Italy, NVIDIA Corporation, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (abstract)
  • “Pushing Back the Limit of Ab-initio Quantum Transport Simulations on Hybrid Supercomputers,” led by Mauro Calderara with a team from ETH Zurich (abstract)
  • “Implicit Nonlinear Wave Simulation with 1.08T DOF and 0.270T Unstructured Finite Elements to Enhance Comprehensive Earthquake Simulation,” led by a team that includes the University of Tokyo, RIKEN, Niigata University, the University of Tsukuba, and the Research Organization for Information Science and Technology (abstract)
  • “An Extreme-Scale Implicit Solver for Complex PDEs: Highly Heterogeneous Flow in Earth’s Mantle,” led by Johann Rudi from University of Texas at Austin and a team that includes IBM, the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, and the California Institute of Technology (abstract)
One of these submissions will be announced as the winner of the 2015 Gordon Bell Prize during SC15 on Thursday, 19 November.

The 2014 ACM Gordon Bell Prize for best performance of a high performance application went to “Anton 2: Raising the Bar for Performance and Programmability in a Special-Purpose Molecular Dynamics Supercomputer,” from author David E. Shaw and collaborators at D.E. Shaw Research, part of the proceedings of SC14 and available in the ACM Digital Library.

Brief Q&A with SC15 Exhibits Chair Trey Breckenridge

SC15 Exhibits Chair Trey Breckenridge
The following is a brief Q&A with SC15 Exhibits Chair Trey Breckenridge, Director of High Performance Computing at the Mississippi State University (MSU), High Performance Computing Collaboratory (HPC2).  He has over 22 years of professional experience in high performance computing and computer support. 

His hobbies include aviation, hunting, and golf. He is a former commander of the Civil Air Patrol's Golden Triangle Composite Squadron and currently holds the Director of Flight Operations and Director of Information Technology positions for the Mississippi Wing. He is also an active member of the local branch of the Rotary Club.

How many exhibitors this year/or total # of exhibit space?
We are expecting another sold-out Exhibition this year as we are running ahead in terms of booth space served by the industry and we are tracking ahead in terms of quantity of companies participating. We are expecting approximately 350 exhibiting organizations. The only reason we won't set a record is because we simply won't have any physical space left.

The Exhibition will feature leading companies from at least 25 countries and 60 first-time exhibitors.
How does this compare to previous SC's at this point in the calendar year?
We are tracking ahead in nearly every category as compared to any previous year. What this means is the attendee will see a full breadth of the industry represented in the Exhibition. Nowhere else will they find the industry’s leading companies demonstrating the latest innovations in HPC, networking, storage, and related areas.  No other event provides such extensive, targeted opportunities for in-depth interaction with the leading companies in the field.

What is the country breakdown and how many are first-time exhibitors?
The Exhibition is truly global as we have exhibiting organizations from 25 countries with more than one-third being located outside the United States. We are also seeing new companies being represented and we are expecting 60 or more to make their debut at SC15.

What type of synergy is there between the Research exhibitors and the Industry exhibitors?
The SC exhibit floor balances corporate exhibits with a showcase for innovative applications of high performance computing, networking, and storage from research institutions – universities, national laboratories, and nonprofit research centers.  These scientists and engineers display the latest advances in computational modeling, imaging, visual analysis, and data technologies, often partnering with industry exhibitors to showcase how particular products can achieve new research discoveries.
Breckenridge suggests building a strategy for maximizing time on the exhibit floor.
Any tips on how to best plan your time on the exhibit floor?
Know which booths you want to visit in advance by reviewing the online exhibitor list. Which vendors will help you the most? Where are they located on the exhibit floor? Review the list of presenters at the Exhibitor Forum. If possible, set up advance appointments to meet some of the exhibitors. You may also want to determine a logical route of getting around the Exhibition.

Austin is considered by many as one of the United States' technology hubs.
Why is Austin such a great SC location?
Austin is also known as  the "Silicon Hills" of the United States and is home to a diverse group of technology companies as well as some leading academic institutions.  Plus, its eclectic blend of culture, music, and beautiful geography further add to its attraction. And, it is a very welcoming city and they highly value our exhibitors and our attendees.

How did you get started as a volunteer with SC?
My first exposure to SC was in 1995 as an exhibitor.  At that conference, I provided technical support for the Mississippi State University booth as well as for MSU’s participation in the SC’95 Global Information Infrastructure (GII) testbed where we showcased an interactive, 3-D scientific visualization and virtual reality capability utilizing an experimental, high-performance wide-area network. That effort provided me with an opportunity to work with numerous SC volunteers in Exhibits, SCinet, and the Technical Program. 

The experience had an incredibly positive impact on me, both professionally and personally, and set into motion a strong desire to be more involved with the conference.  In 2006 I was given an opportunity to participate as a committee volunteer and I’ve continued to volunteer since then.

What past positions have you held and what keeps you coming back as a volunteer? 

In 2006, I began my committee involvement as a member of the security team within the Infrastructure group.  Since then I’ve held the positions of Security Chair, Space Chair, Deputy Infrastructure Chair, Infrastructure Co-chair, SCinet Chair, Executive Director to the General Chair, and of course, this year I am the Exhibits Chair.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the work and challenges associated with each of these roles, and my involvement with SC has allowed me to meet and work with a lot of great people from the supercomputing community - many of which I now consider to be personal friends.  But what brings me back as a volunteer year-after-year is the reward of seeing the result of the hard work from the volunteers and the success of each SC conference.

Given your long successful track record in the industry, what advice do you have for someone who is just starting out?
You should not start off with a narrow focus; be as broad as you can and explore complementary areas.  With the rapid integration of complex technologies, the additional knowledge gained by understanding those complementary areas will be a huge advantage down the road.   I would also suggest finding a mentor who you can emulate and learn from - the SC Mentor-Protégé Program is a good place to start.  I’ve had three in my professional career and owe any success that I’ve had to them.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Scientific Visualization Deadline Extended to August 21st

SC15’s Visualization and Data Analytics Showcase Program provides a forum for the year's most instrumental movies in HPC.  Six finalists will compete for the Best Visualization Award, and each finalist will present his or her movie during a dedicated session at SC15 in a 15-minute presentation. Movies are judged based on how their movie illuminates science, by the quality of the movie, and for innovations in the process used for creating the movie.

Review and selection process:
Submissions needed to include a movie (up to 250MB in size) and a short paper (up to four pages including references).  The short paper should describe the scientific story conveyed by the movie, how the visualization helps scientific discovery, and the "state-of-the-practice" information behind making the movie.

Each submission will be peer reviewed by the Visualization and Data Analytics Showcase Committee. Criteria for revision include:
  •     Compelling visualization

  •     Visualizing data involving HPC in a significant way (whether through simulation or data analytics)

  •     Meaningful and compelling science story

  •     Description of visualization techniques necessary to accomplish the movie
Finally, submissions should support SC15's overall theme "HPC transforms.”

Web Submissions:

Email contact:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Doctoral Showcase Deadline Extended to Aug. 21st

As part of the SC15 Technical Program, the Doctoral Showcase provides an important opportunity for students near the end of their Ph.D. to present a summary of their dissertation research in the form of short talks and posters.  Unlike technical paper and poster presentations, Doctoral Showcase highlights the entire contents of each dissertation, including previously published results, to allow for a broad perspective of the work.

Submissions will be accepted for the Dissertation Research Showcase track for Ph.D. students who will be graduating in the next 12 months. This track provides a venue for Ph.D. students to present a summary of their latest and systematic dissertation research. It provides an opportunity to educate junior graduate students working in high performance computing areas. This program also provides an ideal opportunity for prospective employers in academia, research laboratories and industry to interact with prospective Ph.D.s.

More information, click here.

Make A Difference: Volunteer for the SC15 Mentor-Protégé Program

Mentor Jim Ahrens of Los Alamos National Laboratory meets with his protégé, Maria Ruiz, at SC14.
When you register for SC15, consider signing up as a mentor to help students get the most out of the conference and make a difference in their careers. Protégés are from the Student Volunteers, HPC for Undergrads, Student Cluster Competition and Doctoral Showcase programs. The suggested commitment for mentors and protégés is a pre-conference email or phone contact, attendance at the Mentor-Protégé Program Mixer from 3:30-5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16, and another meeting during SC15.

Maria Ruiz
Thanks to the SC14 Mentor-Protégé Program, University of Delaware Ph.D. Student Maria Ruiz gained valuable experience by attending the 2015 Data Science at Scale Summer School at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Following that program, she was able to continue working with her SC14 mentor Jim Ahrens, who leads the Data Science at Scale Team in the Applied Computer Science group at LANL.

Ruiz first met Ahrens at the Mentor-Protégé Program mixer held at the beginning of SC14. Ruiz said she was thrilled to have a mentor who is engaged with related research and understands it well enough to discuss advanced topics in the field. As her mentor, Ahrens was impressed by Ruiz’s enthusiasm and knowledge. He helped orient her to the conference and suggested names of people she should meet. Later that week, Ruiz attended some of Ahrens’ conference talks and followed up by sharing her resume, which led her to LANL this summer.

Because it’s difficult to find mentors in a specific field from outside of your university, Ruiz said that the SC Mentor-Protégé experience fostered new connections that will ultimately help her make a greater research impact and open up more opportunities in the future. From Ahrens’ perspective, the connection was a win-win, because he found a capable student for his summer program whom he may not have met otherwise. He felt fortunate for having the opportunity to guide Ruiz’s conference experience and is excited that she is planning to contribute to and participate in SC15 this year.

For more specifics on getting involved, click here.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Historical Perspective: Getting to Know the SC Perennials

The SC Perennials is a name affectionately given to the 18 hardy individuals who have demonstrated an unswerving commitment to the HPC community, having attended all 27 of the SC conferences, starting with SC88.  The Perennials just keep coming back – year after year after.

Just as a point of reference, we refer to SC15 as the 27th annual SC conference, but for these individuals, it will actually be their 28th consecutive appearance.

The SC Perennials have seen a lot of change over the years and their contributions, past and present have helped the SC conference in many ways - from program responsibilities to committee roles to evangelizing the importance of HPC.  Their roles in the community and their years of volunteer service on various conference committees is noteworthy.  Some of the names on this list need no introduction – you will recognize them as HPC community legends.

That first event, SC88, which featured a keynote from Seymour Cray, had 1,495 attendees, 36 exhibitors and used a small hotel ballroom for the exhibit hall. This year, at SC15, we anticipate more than 10,000 attendees, more than 350 exhibitors, and we’ll be occupying more than 140,000 sq. ft. of exhibit hall space.

Leading up to SC15, we’ll be posting a series of articles based on interviews with the SC Perennials in which we’ll share some of their favorite memories, discuss some of the SC conference highlights over the years, and bring you an entertaining perspective on many “cool” things to know about the history of this amazing conference.

We hope you enjoy this rare treat of getting to know some more about the SC conference history, as well as getting to know this group of colorful, dedicated SC conference attendees.

SC Perennials (listed in alphabetical order)
  • Mike Bernhardt / Intel
  • Bill Boas / System Fabric Works
  • Vito Bongiorno / Cray Inc.
  • Jim Bottum / Clemson Univ. / Internet2
  • Maxine Brown / Univ. of Illinois at Chicago
  • Jack Dongarra / Univ. of Tennessee and ORNL
  • John L. Gustafson
  • Fred Johnson
  • Anne Marie Kelly / IEEE Computer Society
  • John M. Levesque / Cray Inc.
  • Allen D. Malony / Univ. of Oregon
  • Kenichi Miura / NII / LBNL
  • Steve Poole
  • Ralph Roskies / Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
  • Horst Simon / LBNL
  • Burton Smith
  • Quentin F. Stout / Univ. of Michigan
  • Steve Wallach

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Meet the SC15 Student Cluster Competition Chair: Hai Ah Nam

The SC15 Student Cluster Chair Hai Ah Nam from Los Alamos National Laboratory.
In 1999, the Los Alamos National Laboratory's Hai Ah Nam left graduate school for a summer hiatus to take care of her ailing father and save a marriage that was cracking under the grad school pressure. The summer hiatus ended up lasting five years.

“I had a master’s degree in physics at that point,” Nam says, “but it wasn’t getting me anywhere in southern California. I went to work in the internet industry for a while and then taught high school math, but it wasn’t fulfilling that part of me that wanted to know more, do more.”

By now a single parent with an 18-month-old daughter, Nam sat down at her desk one evening and took stock.

“I felt nearly as lost as when I had first gone off to college,” Nam recalls. “I loved physics, but I did not see a path forward and needed to take a step back.”

Nam was at a turning point and in the end decided to join another graduate school, but this time a joint doctoral program in computational science through San Diego State University and Claremont Graduate University.

“Going back to school when everyone else was at least five years younger and didn’t have to rush home after classes to struggle with the joys of potty training was tough,” Nam notes with a smile. “I had to push down a lot of insecurities and convince myself that the sacrifice would pay off.”

While spending her summers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Nam was asked whether she would be interested in helping the 2007 Student Cluster Competition as a volunteer. Although she was not sure what the competition entailed or how to fit it into her busy schedule, she said yes and was glad she did. The initial yes ended up leading to a wide variety of professional development and networking opportunities, including staff positions at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and now Los Alamos, and a new husband to boot.

Nam with SCC co-chair Tiki Suarez-Brown and Awards Chair Jack Dongarra with the 2010 SCC winner, University of Texas at Austin.
Student Cluster Competition
Since volunteering for her first Student Cluster Competition, Nam has been an active member of the event’s organizational team and in 2010 served as that year’s Student Cluster Competition chair.

“Over 10,000 high-performance computing professionals and students from all over the world attend SC annually, which includes the Student Cluster Competition,” Nam explains. “Students from as far away as Australia, Colombia and China compete on the global stage to build and operate powerful cluster computers—smaller versions of high-capacity supercomputers—and everyone has a lot of fun.”

But offering chances to compete and have fun are only part of the event’s contributions.

“The Student Cluster Competition provides students with training beyond what they are able to get through their universities,” Nam says, “and they learn about new research, have a chance to network and get a taste of future career paths that they probably never even knew existed.”

Click here to read the full article.

Click here for more information about the Student Cluster Competition.

Article courtesy of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Focus on Austin: Take a Nature Break Minutes from Downtown

McKinney Falls State Park is a popular attraction close to downtown Austin.
Planning to bring your family with you to Austin or just want a quick get-away for yourself? The weather in Austin is beautiful, so why not head to a nearby park? A local favorite is the nearby McKinney Falls State Park.

Located just 13 miles southeast of downtown, McKinney Falls offers 726 acres of hiking and cycling trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, a campground, and Onion Creek for wading and rock skipping. If you bring kids, ask the park rangers for free Junior Ranger Explorer Packs so they can track and sketch animals, bugs and other wildlife.

The falls at McKinney Falls are considered one of the most impressive falls in the Austin area (based on the amount of rain the area has received.) The park’s trails are moderately long and easy enough for kids of all ages to walk and skip to their heart’s content. When the creek is low, everyone enjoy walking on the limestone creek bed.

McKinney Falls State Park is open daily, year-round from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. Free for kids 12 years and under, and only $6 for adults, it is a good option for an adventure with the family. Bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it!

McKinney Falls State Park
5808 McKinney Falls Parkway
Austin, TX 78744
Click here for the website.