News & Publications

Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies Day Proclaimed in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County

Parallel State Proclamations Also Recognize PSC Founders' Legacy of Service and Discovery

Feb. 16, 2018

By proclamation of the mayor and the county executive, today is Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies Day in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Mayor Peduto and County Executive Fitzgerald recognized the now-retired scientific directors of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) for their service to the city’s and county’s technical base and scientific progress over 30 years.

On Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, respectively, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives voted on proclamations similarly recognizing the pair.

“What Mike and Ralph created in PSC has stood the test of time, providing lasting value to the national science community,” said Nick Nystrom, PSC’s Interim Director. “Their vision led to a wealth of discoveries that expanded human knowledge and improved the way we live and work.”

PSC began in 1986 as a fortuitous confluence of expertise. Levine, a physicist at Carnegie Mellon University, and Roskies, a physicist at the University of Pittsburgh, needed bigger and better computers to help them carry out the complex calculations they needed for their work in quantum dynamics.

They had, they soon found, plenty of company among their fellow faculty members. The need was there for a supercomputer, and a supercomputing center, that served the scientists of Pittsburgh and beyond. When the National Science Foundation put out a call for researchers willing to take on the responsibility of building and forming such a center, Levine and Roskies, with the help of James Kasdorf of Westinghouse, took up the challenge. Levine and Roskies would direct the new center; Kasdorf would run the day-to-day operations of its machines.

Working with leading-edge suppliers, the team designed and built 19 highly advanced and productive high-performance computing systems. PSC earned a reputation for designing, acquiring, installing and deploying systems that were “serial number 1 or 2” or the first to ship to a customer or completely unique, making them highly productive scientific instruments. Today’s systems at PSC are combining high performance computing, artificial intelligence, and Big Data to help researchers in the “hard sciences” as well as biology, social science and the digital humanities who never before needed computers.

Starting with the delivery of PSC’s first Cray X-MP/48 supercomputer in 1986, the center’s founders together created an environment for innovation at each stage, from winning that first grant to hiring key people with unique skills, and then empowering them to make innovative contributions. They fostered a community of scientific and computing researchers that enable scientific discovery by re-thinking the architecture and software of the systems they make available.

Tonight in a private event, PSC will honor Levine, Roskies and Kasdorf for their legacy of service and discovery.

CMU Group Describes "Superhuman" Poker AI in Science

Libratus Used PSC's Bridges to Formulate Its Strategy in Contest with Best Human Players

Dec. 18, 2017

In a paper published online yesterday by the journal Science, Tuomas Sandholm, CMU professor of computer science, and Noam Brown, a PhD student in the Computer Science Department, detail how their AI achieved superhuman performance at Heads-Up, No-Limit Texas Hold'em poker. "Libratus" beat four of the world's best human players by breaking the game into computationally manageable parts and, based on its opponents' game play, fixing potential weaknesses in its strategy during the competition. Libratus used PSC's Bridges system to play and to formulate its strategy.

Earlier this month, another paper by Sandholm and Brown about Libratus took one of three best paper awards at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS 2017) conference in Long Beach, Calif.

Read more.

Read more about the NIPS award.

Read the Science paper

CMU, PSC and Pitt to Build Brain Data Repository

$5M Grant from the National Institutes of Health Will Help Promote Open Data in Neuroscience

Dec. 7, 2017

Researchers with Carnegie Mellon’s Molecular Biosensor and Imaging Center (MBIC), the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) and the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Biological Imaging (CBI) will help to usher in an era of open data research in neuroscience by building a confocal fluorescence microscopy data repository. The data archive will give researchers easy, searchable access to petabytes of existing data.

Read more: CMU, PSC, Pitt Building...

PSC-Led Flu Vaccine Research Wins International Supercomputing Award

Nov. 14, 2017

Research on the best strategies for offering flu vaccinations to the public at PSC, the University of Pittsburgh and Soongsil University in the Republic of Korea has won a 2017 Innovation Excellence Award from the Hyperion Research User Forum Steering Committee. Hyperion Research, the world’s most respected high-performance-computing (HPC) industry analyst group for more than 25 years, presented the award at the SC17 supercomputing conference in Denver, Colo.

Read more: PSC-Led Flu Vaccine...

HPC RCA ECA 17 Banner

PSC Wins a Record Five HPCwire Readers’, Editors’ Choice Awards

Annual Awards Recognize Leaders in the Global High-Performance-Computing Community

Nov. 13, 2017

PSC has been recognized with a best-year-ever five HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Awards at the 2017 International Conference for High-Performance Computing (HPC), Networking, Storage and Analysis (SC17), in Denver, Colorado. HPCwire, the leading trade publication in the supercomputing community, announced the list of winners at the HPCwire booth at the event, and on the HPCwire website, located at

Read more: PSC Wins Record Five...

PSC to Host WVU Cluster

Oct. 10, 2017

A three-year National Science Foundation grant totaling nearly $1 million will let West Virginia University (WVU) develop its next-generation high-performance computing cluster to advance research in an array of fields, from drug delivery to genomics and astrophysics.

Read more: PSC to Host WVU Cluster

Nick Nystrom Appointed Interim Director of PSC

July 27, 2017

Nick Nystrom, senior director of research at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), has been appointed interim director of the center. Nystrom succeeds Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies, who have been co-directors of PSC since its founding in 1985.

During the interim period, Nystrom will oversee PSC’s state-of-the-art research into high-performance computing, data analytics, science and communications, working closely with Levine and Roskies to ensure a smooth and seamless transition.

Read more: Nystrom Named Interim...

The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread?

Zebrafish Study Reveals First Fine Structure of a Complete Vertebrate Brain

May 10, 2017

Zebrafish larva head in cross-section. Note this isn’t a single electron microscope image, but many thousands of slices seen on edge. The large black circle is the eye, the big darker gray shape at top the brain. You can also see the nose (black crescent at right), the ear (black crescent near center) and several vertebrae (center bottom).


Why It’s Important

Every thought, every feeling, every sensation—and every behavioral illness—ultimately depends on how our brains work. Despite decades of stunning advances in imaging the brain and measuring its activity, though, we still don’t understand how even a simple vertebrate brain works.

Enter the zebrafish larva. Small and transparent—yet able to swim freely and even hunt small prey—these baby fish have long been studied by researchers to understand how their tiny brains generate behaviors. David Hildebrand, working in

the laboratories of Florian Engert and Jeff Lichtman at Harvard University, took this work a step farther, creating electron microscopic images of the zebrafish brain cut
into tens of thousands of slices.

With the help of co-author PSC’s Art Wetzel, they led an international collaboration that used these images to reconstruct specific nerve cells that spanned nearly the entire larval zebrafish brain. The hope is that this kind of thorough “nano-scale” imaging will make it possible to

extract the brain’s complete “wiring diagram.” While this work has only just begun, it may eventually shed new light on past studies of zebrafish behavior—and point the way toward a better understanding of more complex brains, such as ours.

Read more: First Fine Structure of...

PSC Media Contacts

Media / Press Contact(s):

Kenneth Chiacchia
Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

Vivian Benton
Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

Website Contact

Shandra Williams
Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

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