Andrew Lumsdaine

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The Indiana University Center for Research in Extreme Scale Technologies (CREST) recently received a $1.9 million award to lead the computer science team of a new collaborative research project with the University of Notre Dame and Purdue University.

CREST will work to develop the execution model, software and programming methods for scientists using computer simulations to study how shockwaves travel through reactive materials. CREST will be a subcontractor for Notre Dame, whose Center for Shock Wave-processing of Advanced Reactive Materials has been named a US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Single-Discipline Center – which comes with $1.6 million funding a year for five years under the Predictive Science Academic Alliance Program II (PSAAP II). Purdue experimental physicists will test the accuracy of the computer simulation models.

Hear Thomas Sterling and Andrew Lumsdaine discuss the award.

“This project is exciting on many levels,” said Andrew Lumsdaine, CREST director, professor in the IU School of Informatics and Computing (SOIC) and principal investigator and overall computer science lead for the IU award. “It’s a rare opportunity to close the loop between creating mathematical models and computations to predict scientific phenomenon, and discovering just how accurate these predictions are in real-world situations. It’s also a substantial collaborative research project involving the three leading research institutions in Indiana.”

Thomas Sterling, CREST associate director and chief scientist, and professor in the IU School of Informatics and Computing, added, “We are eager to work with researchers to produce simulations that further scientific understanding of shockwave physics through reactive materials. This award is the single most important application challenge we have faced, and it really resonates with the class of computation we're doing.”

CREST’s mission is to transform dynamic, data-driven computing through the development and application of revolutionary high performance computing platforms. This work is crucial to the emerging field of predictive science, which uses computer simulations to predict the behavior of complex systems when routine, trial-and-error experiments are too time consuming, costly or risky. Many of the world’s most complex challenges – from developing lifesaving drugs and managing the US nuclear weapons stockpile to understanding climate change and creating clean energy sources – use predictive science.

Information gleaned from the PSAAP II project will have implications for a range of fields. “For me personally, as well as for IU and CREST, this award that will open our work up to a vast array of equally challenging engineering and scientific projects,” notes Sterling. “It’s exciting to know that the kinds of computations taking place in the PSAAP project will advance computational techniques for problems that affect all of humanity.”

As a research center affiliated with the IU Pervasive Technology Institute, CREST is focused on exploring the frontiers of exascale computing. Two of supercomputing's foremost thinkers, Andrew Lumsdaine and Thomas Sterling, both professors in the School of Informatics and Computing at IU Bloomington, lead CREST as director and associate director, respectively. Sterling also serves as CREST chief scientist.

About extreme scale and exascale computing
Today's most powerful computers consist of over a million processor cores and deliver performance on the order of 33 petaFLOPS sustained and 54 petaFLOPS peak. Exascale computers will offer nearly 100 times that performance for real-world applications like climate modeling, microbiology, nuclear reactor design, combustion and mechanical deformation. Extreme scale computing not only includes exascale computing, but also delivers performance gains for problems that today cannot scale anywhere near the maximum system size available.

About the National Nuclear Security Administration
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the US Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the US nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the US Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the US and abroad.

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