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January 1993

Pittsburgh Workshop Spotlights Computing Issues in the Grand Challenge Problems

On May 4-7, 1993, the second annual Workshop on Grand Challenge Applications and Software Technology was held in Pittsburgh, PA. The workshop was organized by a committee of representatives from a number of funding agencies, including ARPA, DOE, EPA, NASA, NIH, NIST, NOAA, NSA, and NSF.

More than 250 researchers from universities and national laboratories attended the workshop. The objective was to bring together grand challenge applications research groups and software technologists supported under the federal High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) program. The two groups discussed computational science research issues and approaches, identified major technology challenges facing users and providers, and refined software technology requirements for developing grand challenge applications. There was a strong multidisciplinary flavor to all the technical discussions.

The workshop progressed from introductory presentations by the applications groups on the first two days, to intense working groups of applications researchers and software engineers on the third day, to wrap-up sessions on the fourth day. The last day's talks summarized common themes and suggested directions for future grand challenge support.

A broad range of research interests covered by the grand challenge program were exhibited at the workshop through presentations from representatives of universities, national laboratories, and funding agencies. Five areas of research were covered: environmental and earth sciences; computational physics; computational biology, chemistry, and material sciences; computational fluid and plasma dynamics; and applications of artificial intelligence.

In accordance with the workshop's objective, the working group discussions placed a heavy emphasis on the computational issues involved with successfully solving grand challenge problems. Participants discussed issues in I/O, data and file systems, parallel programming paradigms, performance characterization and evaluation of MPP applications, and program development tools. There were also discussions on multidisciplinary applications, algorithms, visualization, and the national HPCC infrastructure.

The workshop pointed out new directions for computer science researchers, including the development of new software that is needed by grand challenge researchers. "It was clear from the beginning of this workshop that computing has become a key part of the Federal government's science and technology policy," said CRPC researcher Geoffrey Fox. "This has especially been the case for the grand challenge projects."

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