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Parallel Profile: Andrew White Feb 18



Deputy Division Leader of the Computing and Communications Division and Director of the Advanced Computing Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

When Andy White accepted a job at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in November 1979, he thought that he might work there for two or three years. Twelve years later, White is still there, having made a significant impact on the computational research activities of LANL and its Advanced Computing Laboratory (ACL).

White earned a doctorate in applied mathematics from Caltech in 1974. Within the first few years after his arrival at Los Alamos, LANL began its research efforts in parallel processing. A small group of researchers worked on prototype machines developed by Denelcor and Intel. These early machines, while invaluable from an architectural viewpoint, had software that was insufficient for realizing the capabilities of the machines.

Then a deputy leader of the group, White had a vision of expanding this research beyond its current scope. His interest was in providing an "open node," a place for people to do advanced computing in an open environment. The research effort needed expansion in terms of resources and visibility and an infrastructure was needed to support this open environment for visitors and collaborators.

Under the direction of White, the ACL was founded in 1989. The ACL resulted from a confluence of events including the introduction of LANL's Thinking Machines CM-2, the first massively parallel computer suitable for scientific problems. Other mitigating factors were an expanded national community in computational science and technological advances in related computational areas.

White explains that technological changes have profoundly influenced the direction of the ACL's research. "Very few people understand how to integrate all the pieces in advanced computing. Today's computing environment is very complex and it requires a team to put all those pieces together." The pieces include high-speed networks, high-performance data storage, data compression, and the development and efficient use of advanced architectures.

The ACL has become an experimental laboratory environment where scientists, engineers, and mathematicians can work to advance computing in an interdisciplinary fashion. "The ACL is in business to enrich computational science at Los Alamos," said White, "and to be a bridge to other centers of excellence."

One of those connections beyond LANL includes the ACL being one of six sites for the CRPC. As a member of the executive committee and a co-director of the CRPC's Differential Equations group, Andy White is an integral part of the ACL's participation in the CRPC. As a CRPC researcher, his interests are in adaptive and moving grid techniques and schemes, accurate finite difference (and element and volume) discretizations on irregular grids, high-performance computation and networking, and theory and simulation of nonlinear diffusive phenomena including diffusion in polymer entanglement networks and flow in porous media.

In addition to being co-director of the CRPC Differential Equations group, White is also a member of the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, manager of LANL's Applied Mathematical Sciences program, and on the editorial board of Concurrent Computation: Theory and Practice.

This article appears courtesy of CRPC, Rice University.

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