Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Posted on behalf of Ben Payne

Greetings from Catania!

I'm posting this on behalf of Ben Payne, graduate student research assistant from the University of Missouri, USA:

My name is Ben Payne (see Bio). I'm blogging from Sicily for the week. I'll be discussing my observations. To start, an overview of the event I'm attending.

What: Summer school on High Performance Computing (HPC)
Where: Acireale, Sicily, Italy
When: October 4-7, 2010
Who: graduate students and post docs from Universities of the United States and Europe, listening to presenters. Speakers are experts and leaders in the HPC field from Europe (DEISA) and the United States (Teragrid).

First, let's define what HPC is. For us, HPC means scientifically-oriented computation which takes a lot of math operations. Generally, this means projects which run on systems larger than the normal desktop. And by larger, I mean up to 300,000 CPUs on the top systems.

We, the students, are interested in making sure we are using the computational resources as efficiently as possible. The faster we get work done, the more results we can accomplish.

My background is in parallel Fortran 90 using MPI on Teragrid's Ranger. I use SVN for version control, and maintain Trac wiki and Mediawiki servers for documentation. Thus, one of the topics of converstation I like to raise is to see how others are managing their software development. Sometimes Physicists could learn from the "best practices" of their Computer Science counterparts. Happily, there are a significant number of CS students here at the conference.

We also discuss parallelization strategies. Although our specific problems may not be similar, we are all here for HPC.

Disclosure: I am attending the conference hosted by Teragrid and DEISA. The trip, accommodations, and meals are paid for by the hosts. Although I will try to maintain an unbiased opinion, keep these facts in mind.

Ben Payne's Bio:

I am a graduate student research assistant at the University of Missouri, Rolla (now called Missouri University of Science and Technology) in the United States. I am a research assistant (no teaching) for Dr Alexey Yamilov. We work with light propagation through disordered media in metallic waveguides. We start from Maxwell's equations and use the transfer matrix method to determine transmission and the field inside the waveguide.

While procrastinating research, I enjoy flying, skydiving, SCUBA diving, skiing, mountaineering, downhill and trials biking, and generally exciting activities. I also am distracted by reading science fiction and participating in issues around computing (IT administration and user interaction).

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