From the Interim Director

Welcome to the Fall 2018 issue of PSC Science Highlights!

fall2018 coverWe continue our ongoing project to make PSC ever more relevant, agile, and tuned to the needs of the scientific community. The past six months have seen us reorganize to better exploit our strengths and continue to lead in the HPC community.

Recognizing the vast strategic importance of artificial intelligence (AI) to science and society, we’ve created a new Artificial Intelligence & Big Data Group, directed by Paola Buitrago. This group will strengthen our AI environment for users; develop and disseminate best practices; enable and drive research; provide education and training; and foster collaboration. One important thrust of this work is to strengthen computational partnerships with regional corporate entities. We’ve already played a key role in significant progress in AI made by researchers at the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science—see the story in this issue on the paper in the prestigious journal Science describing their Libratus AI’s 2017 victory over some of the world’s best poker players. A more recent accomplishment was in the Big Data field. This issue includes a feature article on our role in providing GPU capability to the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, supporting the recent first detection of cosmic neutrinos by that facility. We also announce a new Big Data collaboration, with Fermilab’s CMS detector at the Large Hadron Collider.

To unify our research efforts and strategic planning in computational biology and public health, we’ve launched a new Computational Biology Group. The senior director of the new group, Phil Blood, will oversee PSC’s Biomedical Applications and Public Health Applications Groups. One major recent development in this sphere, also covered in this issue, was a collaboration with Pitt to create a Brain Image Library, led by Alex Ropelewski. This confocal fluorescence microscopic data library will give researchers easy, searchable access to petabytes of unique data. It is funded by National Institute of Mental Health as part of the federal BRAIN initiative. On the public health side, you can also read about how, with colleagues at Johns Hopkins, we released the HERMES public-health supply-chain modeling software for public use in April.

We have world-class teams of researchers in the above fields. We also remain a facility providing HPC systems to U.S. researchers (at no cost to them, it bears repeating). Thanks to a supplemental award from NSF, we are greatly enhancing PSC’s NSF-funded Bridges system with “Bridges GPU-AI,” a new resource configured to balance singular capability and substantial capacity. You can read more about this new resource in this issue.

Keeping PSC’s systems humming is the responsibility of Jason Sommerfield, who has been appointed director of our Facilities Technology Group. The group currently manages Bridges, Anton 2, Olympus, the Brain Image Library and integration and support for hardware infrastructure for groups at CMU, Pitt and other institutions. 

Finally, we maintain our award-winning STEM education efforts. Thanks to a grant from Microsoft, we’re continuing our GCode program to offer young women, particularly from under-represented communities, the opportunity to experience coding and think about it as a career path. Our ongoing program of HPC workshops for researchers and computing professionals continues as well.

We would like to acknowledge all our funders, especially the NSF, the NIH and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We’d also like to thank our staff for the superlative work that made all these successes happen.

 

Nicholas A. Nystrom

Interim Director