|Volume 7, Issue 1 -
From the Director
WORLD WIDE WEB FURTHERS CRPC MISSION
Guest Editorial by Geoffrey Fox, CRPC Executive Committee Member
The World Wide Web is a paradigm shift in computing that is impacting essentially all areas of industry and society. It is therefore not surprising to see the growing importance of the Web and its technologies to the CRPC.
The national collaboration between CRPC researchers makes extensive use of the Web, and we can expect this practice to grow as both commercial and research organizations deploy more and more sophisticated Web-based collaboration tools. These tools can exploit high-speed networks and advanced services, such as those now available on the NSF's experimental very high speed Backbone Network Service (vBNS). We can expect the CRPC to play a major role in defining the use of these tools to develop what CRPC External Advisory Committee member Bill Wulf terms a "collaboratory." Our involvement in developing Web collaboration technologies will increase as our work moves into the area of Problem Solving Environments (PSEs), which inevitably links programming and collaboration systems. One forefront of Web collaboration involves developments of the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) to support simulated virtual environmentsa computationally intense problem that will require the basic parallel computing technologies of the type developed by the CRPC.
Several CRPC projects are using Web technologies and enhanced Web servers to implement and enhance parallel computing tools. Examples include the use of advanced compilation ideas for the Java language, Web-based HPF compilation systems, and Java/VRML distributed or data flow computational models. Combining the CRPC-developed parallel computing technologies with the powerful information-processing capability of the Web certainly makes parallel computing more usable. For instance, linking the Web to computation allows attractive visualization of both science and engineering simulation results and real-time display and animation of performance data.
Outreach is a major CRPC thrust, and here the Web plays a role as the base information dissemination system for new educational initiatives from the K12 to supercomputer-user levels. The use of the Web as a technology base creates a more robust and rich environment than the current typical custom system used in parallel computing up to now. This will help fulfill the CRPC's mission of making parallel computing truly usable, as it will encourage commercial use of parallel computing and provide a sound business model for this area.
Many researchers in the CRPC expect that geographically distributed computing and collaboration will be a centerpiece of our future activities. This issue shows some of our initial steps in this remarkable new world.
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