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School of Informatics and Computing, Pervasive Technology Institute shine at XSEDE16 Conference

Craig Stewart's Jetstream team takes home "best technical paper" award, while Scott McClary earns “best student paper” honors

(This article originally appeared on the School of Informatics and Computing website:

Two members of the School of Informatics and Computing community earned best paper honors at the prestigious eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) 2016 Conference in Miami, Fla., July 17-22.

SoIC computer science graduate student and Indiana University’s Pervasive Technology Institute intern Scott McClary became the first IU student to earn “best student paper” honors at the conference as co-author of “Improving the Scalability of a Charge Detection Mass Spectrometry Workflow.” Meanwhile, Adjunct Professor of Informatics andIU Pervasive Technology Institute Executive Director Craig Stewart and his colleagues won the prestigious Phil Andrews Memorial Best Technical Paper award for their paper “Jetstream – performance, early experience, and early results.”

McClary’s award was earned through collaboration with Holgar Brunst of the Technische Universitaet Dresden and former visiting scientist at IU’s PTI, who was the first author of the paper. McClary and his group developed a technique that optimized the workflow of an application called Charge Detection Mass Spectrometry by improving both the latency and throughput of the CDMS app. The performance improvements enabled high efficiency and scalability across IU’s Advanced Cyberinfrastructure resulting in an application that could run up to 25 times faster.

“I took the CDMS application and modified it to work on the supercomputers,” McClary said. “Then I optimized it to move it down from six hours to about 10 minutes of runtime.”

McClary, who also graduated with a degree in mathematics, used his time as an intern with the IU’s University Information Technology Services (UITS) Research Technologies team to develop the optimization technique and conduct research with full-time professional programmers at PTI solving important performance problems. He also worked with Benjamin Draper, a graduate student in the IU Department of Chemistry, and PTI’s Robert Henschel and Abhinav Thota on the paper.

McClary’s process includes having researchers run an experiment on their own computers before sending him the application. He then installs the app on one of IUs’ three supercomputers and performs an analysis to optimize the app’s efficiency.

“After I make performance improvements, I must ensure the application is still producing accurate and reliable results," McClary said. "Then, I teach the researchers how to run their application on the supercomputer as part of their everyday workflow.”

Stewart and his colleagues focused on the Jetstream system, which will deliver cloud-based research support to the national research community. The project, which is funded by the NSF, will for the first time put the power of high-performance computing via a cloud-based, on-demand system in the hands of researchers via their laptop or desktop computers.

“The Jetstream system and the award for this paper would not have been possible without the intellectual leadership of SoIC and the partnership of IU Pervasive Technology Institute that brings together IU’s many strengths in cyberinfrastructure,” said Stewart, who earned best technical paper honors at the conference for the second consecutive year. “We have established best practices in deploying a new innovative computing system for use by the U.S. research community.”

Other SoIC faculty members involved in the project include Distinguished Professor of Information Science Katy Börner and Professor of Informatics and Computing Beth Plale, as well as Fengguang Song of the Computer & Information Science Department of IUPUI (part of the Purdue School of Science). The project is part of a five-year, $11 million NSF grant to create, implement, and operate the system, and is based upon work under NSF Award 1445604, “High Performance Computing System Acquisition: Jetstream—A Self-Provisioned, Scalable Science and Engineering Cloud Environment.”

Institutional partners funded by NSF to operate Jetstream include the Indiana University Pervasive Technology Institute, the University of Texas at Austin Texas Advanced Computing Center, the University of Arizona, the University of Chicago Computation Institute, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Cornell University. Collaborating partners are Jackson State University, the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the Odum Institute at the University of North Carolina, and the University of Hawai’i. Vendor partners include Dell Inc. and Mathworks.

PTI has also supported Jetstream implementation and related activities. It is supported by Indiana University and has received major support from the Lilly Endowment Inc. PTI is a collaborative organization involving the Office of the VP for Information Technology, the Research Technologies Division of UITS, SoIC, the Maurer School of Law, and the College.

“The awards garnered by Craig and Scott showcase the research strength and intellectual leadership of SoIC and Indiana University,” said SoIC Dean Raj Acharya. “Their efforts show once again that SoIC remains on the cutting edge of the ideas and work that will shape the future of technology.”

The XSEDE is the largest NSF-funded cyberinfrastructure service and support organization in the United States. To learn more about Jetstream and to sign up for an account, go to