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Outreach and Knowledge Transfer

The research achievements of the Center for Research on Parallel Computation would not have a high impact without an active program of knowledge transfer. Knowledge transfer comes in several forms: technology transfer programs with industry, workshops and symposia, visitor programs, and the dissemination of software, online information, and publications.

Knowledge Transfer with Industry

Advanced scientific computing has expanded beyond its initial use in government laboratories and has been introduced to mainstream academia and industry. Through its role in developing innovative programming tools, software, and algorithms for high-performance parallel computing, the CRPC plays a very important part in maintaining American economic competitiveness in this key high-technology area. The tremendous computational power of parallel machines, used effectively with the right programming methods and applications software, will enable American industry to use supercomputers in ways never before possible.

A key component of the knowledge and technology transfer goal of the CRPC is the Parallel Computing Enabling Technologies project, otherwise known as PCE-TECH. Under the leadership of Geoffrey Fox, this project evaluates emerging "enabling technologies" for high-performance computing and assists with software development to integrate them into an industrial framework. The program puts a special emphasis on technologies relevant to the CRPC. For additional information on PCE-TECH, see page 46. Examples of other ways that the CRPC is actively involved with industry follow.

CRPC Management

Representatives from several companies with interests in high-performance computing serve on the CRPC External Advisory Committee (EAC)-a list of members can be found on page 20). EAC members provide suggestions for center research directions, attend and participate in CRPC workshops and annual meetings, and stay informed of center activities through newsletters and technical reports. CRPC researchers also have contacts with industry through collaborative work, which contributes to the research objectives of the center.

Corporate Affiliates and Industry Coalitions

CRPC corporate affiliate programs provide a direct exchange of technology with industry. In addition, the center participates in industry-wide coalitions and frequently has members on industry advisory boards. A major CRPC achievement in this area was organizing and sponsoring the High Performance Fortran Forum, which is developing a consensus on standards for a Fortran language for parallel computers. The MPI (Message Passing Interface) Forum was formed after the CRPC workshop, "Standards for Message Passing in a Distributed Memory Environment," to promote discussion within the parallel computing research community on the issues that must be addressed in establishing a practical and flexible standard for message passing that can be used on many different parallel machines.

ACTION-NYS is a program organized by Geoffrey Fox and other CRPC researchers at Syracuse University that introduces New York State companies to parallel computing by developing parallel applications for industry needs, providing access to NPAC parallel machines, and offering education and training in high-performance computing. The program is funded by New York State. In addition, CRPC researchers have worked with the Multidisciplinary Analysis and Design Industrial Consortium, a consortium of industry members that focuses on ways to achieve a truly multidisciplinary design optimization system for engineers.

Product/Technologies Impact on the Computer Industry

Manufacturers of parallel supercomputers who have credited CRPC research in the development of commercial products include: Intel (high-speed input/output interfaces, concurrent file systems, graphics library contents, file back-up hardware and software, and global communications functions); IBM (XL series of compilers for the RS/6000, CC++ software ported to workstations, utilization of novel architectures); Convex (interprocedural analysis and optimization used in the Applications Compiler); Thinking Machines (communications and eigenvalue computation routines in CMSSL product derived directly from CRPC differential equations work); and Hewlett Packard (CC++ software ported to workstations).

CRPC research on applications software has helped to develop the following technologies: oil reservoir simulators implemented on parallel machines manufactured by Cray, nCUBE, MasPar, and Thinking Machines; software for Kodak's Datatape Division to control a HIPPI hardware interface for their ID-1 tape drives; optimization software ported to Shell Development Company's parallel machine; optimization software at Boeing for flexible manufacturing methods; and codes for computational fluid dynamics and aircraft structural analysis developed in collaboration with NASA Langley Research Center.

Impact of the CRPC on Standards for the Computer Industry

The CRPC has contributed to the development of industry standards for parallel computing. By leading the effort to develop an informal standard for High Performance Fortran, the CRPC is helping computer hardware manufacturers to increase the overall acceptance of parallel computing. The High Performance Fortran Forum has served as a model for academic-industry collaboration on pre-competitive research, such as the ongoing effort to standardize message-passing interfaces.

Geoffrey C. Fox is an internationally recognized expert in the use of parallel architectures and the development of concurrent algorithms. He is also a leading proponent for the development of computational science as an academic discipline and a scientific method, and for knowledge transfer to industry. He directs the computational science program at Syracuse University, which offers undergraduate and graduate concentrations. His research on parallel computing has focused on the development and use of this technology to solve large-scale computational problems. Geoffrey Fox directs ACTION-NYS, which is focused on accelerating the introduction of parallel computing into New York State industry. His research experience includes work at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory. He has served as Dean for Educational Computing and Assistant Provost for Computing at Caltech. He co-authored Solving Problems on Concurrent Processors and edits Concurrency: Practice and Experience and the International Journal of Modern Physics.

Workshops and Symposia

Knowledge of CRPC activities is widely disseminated through the participation of center researchers in professional conferences, including those sponsored by ACM, IEEE, SIAM, and other organizations. CRPC researchers have served as organizers, program chairs, and section leaders for these conferences, along with representing the CRPC in panel discussions, papers, posters, and mini-symposia.

CRPC-sponsored workshops have been particularly effective in introducing new research methods and technologies in parallel computing by addressing targeted audiences from industry, academia, and government.

Workshops and conferences with a technical focus include:

  • Computational Aspects of the Traveling Salesman Problem. The Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) is typical of a large class of "hard" optimization problems that have intrigued mathematicians and computer scientists for years. TSP involves finding the most economical route for a traveling salesman between many cities. This conference, organized by Robert Bixby, helped bridge the gap between researchers using search method algorithms and exact method algorithms.
  • Parallel Methods for Domain Decomposition and Multigrid Problems Workshop. Chaired by Mary Wheeler, this conference discussed developments in domain decomposition. For problems such as pressure velocity equations and transport equations, researchers use domain decomposition techniques to divide global problems into subproblems that can be solved in parallel.
  • Basic Linear Algebra Communication Subroutine (BLACS). Co-sponsored by the CRPC and the LAPACK Project, and organized by Jack Dongarra and Danny Sorensen, this meeting engaged researchers in a discussion of a proposed standard for communication software for linear algebra on distributed-memory architectures.
  • ParaScope Training Workshop. This workshop brought together researchers from industry, government, and academia to experiment with the ParaScope programming environment and critique its functionality.
  • Workshop on System Software and Tools for High Performance Computing Environments. Sponsored by nine federal agencies as a part of the Federal High Performance Computing and Communications Program, this workshop greatly influenced the agenda for software research in the High Performance Computing and Communications program. Several CRPC researchers led working group discussions on special topics during this workshop, which was organized by Paul Messina. The concept of programming templates that is being developed by the CRPC grew out of this workshop.
  • Joint MADIC/NASA Workshop on Multidisciplinary Design. CRPC researchers participated in this workshop to identify the technical barriers preventing the development of automated multidisciplinary design systems. The workshop proved to be an effective focal point for defining the development roles of the participants from industry, academia, and government, and led the CRPC Parallel Optimization group into new research in this area.
  • Sixth SIAM Conference on Parallel Processing for Scientific Computing. At this conference, the CRPC sponsored a mini-symposium that covered several research areas explored by center researchers, such as parallel Fortran languages, multidisciplinary optimization, parallel treecodes, parallel models for reservoir engineering and groundwater hydrology, and linear algebra. Jack Dongarra and Ken Kennedy gave invited presentations at the SIAM meeting on CRPC work in linear algebra and parallel Fortran, respectively.
  • CSCC Delta Applications Workshop. This workshop, held annually, is an opportunity for scientists to discuss the results of their research performed on the Intel Delta supercomputer, which is owned by the CSCC consortium in which the CRPC is a major participant.
  • SIAM Conference on Mathematical and Computational Issues in the Geosciences. Several CRPC researchers were involved in this conference, which had a heavy focus on parallel computing and featured presentations on computing applications in hydrology, reservoir engineering, porous media, seismic imaging, flow and transport, geochemical systems, oceanography, atmospheric science, and ecological characterization.
Several CRPC-sponsored workshops have addressed some of the social issues surrounding science. Sponsored in part by the CRPC, the "Changing Culture of Science: Bringing It into Balance" workshop explored several multicultural issues including racial and sexual stereotyping, family versus career choices, the value of a competitive environment, the "glass ceiling," and the interaction of science with the rest of society. The conference allowed a broad spectrum of science professionals to share personal experiences and reach a consensus on social issues related to science.

Some workshops have been so successful that they are held annually. For example, the Computational Science Workshops, held at Los Alamos National Laboratory, provide attendees with an advanced education in high-performance computing as it applies to computationally intensive scientific research. They are also given access to high-performance workstations and innovative computer architectures and are introduced to the newest advances in parallel algorithms, architectures, operating systems, distributed computing, parallel languages, and visualization tools.

Visitor Programs

Visitors from industry, government, and academic institutions spend time at CRPC sites, working on research projects with CRPC scientists. CRPC researchers also visit a number of industrial sites each year. These visits provide the initial contact needed to stimulate potential collaborations. For instance, CRPC collaboration with Boeing on multidisciplinary optimization was aided by some initial CRPC visits to Boeing's Computer Services division in Seattle, Washington.

Software, Online Information, and Publications

Another means of knowledge transfer is through public-domain software, technical reports, and publications. The CRPC has actively pursued this type of dissemination through the following:
  • Public Domain Software. Many CRPC-developed tools and algorithms can be obtained directly from Netlib and Softlib, electronic software distribution systems at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Rice University, respectively. In the first three years of the CRPC's existence, more than 1,300 codes were distributed. For instance, within the same time, LAPACK was distributed to more than 2,000 people.
  • Technical Reports. CRPC technical reports include timely research results in compiler technology, software developments, and applications. More than 300 CRPC technical reports are currently available and distributed to the scientific community. For information on obtaining a current list, see page 52.
  • CRPC Brochures and Newsletter. The quarterly newsletter, Parallel Computing Research, and up-to-date CRPC brochures help communicate the accomplishments of the CRPC, along with news of general interest to the parallel computation community.

Below: Eric Van de Velde (second from left) demonstrating EText to undergraduate and graduate students from the California Institute of Technology. EText, developed through the Parallel Paradigm Integration research thrust, helps people learn about parallel programming through the use of a browsing library of archetypes and applications. Students are actively involved in research, outreach, and knowledge transfer programs within the CRPC.

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