Archive for May, 2005

The Semantic Grid

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

Widespread talk of the Semantic Grid seems to have cooled over the last couple of years. However, it is still under active development and moving along nicely. The formal effort began in 2001 as part of the e-Science program in the UK to reach a goal of semantic interoperability with an infrastructure

where all resources, including services, are adequately described in a form that is machine-processable….the Semantic Grid is an extension of the current Grid in which information and services are given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation (from the Semantic Grid website).

Development seems to be gaining considerable speed as a greater number of research initiatives related to grid computing are underway. A good primer on the Semantic Grid effort can be found in this presentation (13 MB) given in Amsterdam in April by Dr. David De Roure, one of the lead researchers. Supercomputing Online also has a short piece about the effort.

It’s not all about the speed, but that helps

Friday, May 27th, 2005

Everyone has seen the IBM commercials that tout a computer’s ability to reconfigure itself depending on what it’s being asked to do. But such “on-the-fly” circuit changes aren’t just the vision of the corporate world. The academic sector is also a major partner in bringing such vision to reality by getting federal funding for just such research. In the latest edition of BusinessWeek Online, the article “Mighty Morphing Power Processors” points to the University of Texas and the Ohio Supercomputer Center as two institutions heavily involved. There is a lot at stake in this next generation, reconfigurable chip. The article states

IBM is hardly the only chipmaker chasing morphing semiconductors. Virtually every major supplier of so-called logic chips is working on some such notion, including Hewlett-Packard, Intel, NEC, Philips Electronics, and Texas Instruments. A dozen or more startups are in the race as well, including Velogix, picoChip Designs, and MathStar.


Grady Booch on life at IBM

Friday, May 27th, 2005

InfoWorld has published an interesting Q & A with Grady Booch, known as a co-creator of the unified modeling language (UML). In the interview, Booch fields several questions about a variety of topics, including parallelizing software and what happens when Moore’s law expires. Though towing the company line, Booch nevertheless shares his insight into future application development and open source issues as well.

Chronicle on a crisis

Friday, May 20th, 2005

Today’s Chronicle of Higher Education includes an article on the current budget situation for the centers program at NSF. (Free for a few days, then requires subscription.) It gets right to the point:

Many researchers warn that a crisis looms for academic supercomputing in the United States, largely because of what they see as the National Science Foundation’s failure to support the technology adequately…Even some advisers to the Bush administration have recently called on government agencies to develop a clearer road map for purchasing and operating cutting-edge supercomputers and for developing supercomputer software.

The usual suspects make their appearances including:

[A]cademic scientists worry that the changes in the mission of these centers and the NSF’s financing decisions could upend American supercomputing research. If none of the incumbents win a new contract from the NSF, building a new supercomputer center from scratch would not be easy or inexpensive, they say. It might not even be smart.

“You don’t build a highway and decide a few years later that you’re going to take it away,” says Kelvin K. Droegemeier, a professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma who relies heavily on supercomputers in his research.

Losing to your forward

Friday, May 20th, 2005

Most of you have probably already had this forwarded to your inbox, but transcripts of the testimony delivered by the likes of John Marburger and Anthony Tether to the House Science Committee last week are available online.

New contract, new direction?

Tuesday, May 17th, 2005

Today’s New York Times outlines Los Alamos National Laboratory’s up-for-grabs contract, a hot competition between the University of California system, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Several in the article worry that a shift from UC would lead to a shift away from science, technology, and innovation. “[T]he struggle is over Los Alamos’s mission - whether it should turn away from its traditional role as a center of scientific excellence toward a narrower one focused on weapons design and production, in essence a bomb factory,” says the Times.

The recruiting and staffing implications are huge according to Hugh Gusterson, an analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies the nation’s nuclear arms laboratories:

“If you’re trying to recruit a young Ph.D. from Princeton, and you tell them you’re working for the University of California and not a bomb shop, it really matters…People were just stricken,” he said. “They’re worried that Los Alamos will increasingly become a manufacturing facility. A lot of people were talking about early retirement.”

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