Foreword from the Directors

Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies

Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies
PSC co-scientific directors.

We’re glad once again to present some of the year’s accomplishments at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC). It’s been gratifying to see our center’s vision for the importance of shared memory bear fruit, as Blacklight — the world’s largest shared-memory system, now in its second year — has proven its value across a range of fields. We’re pleased also to highlight our innovative disk-based, data-handling system, the Data Supercell, and a new system, Sherlock, specialized for graph analytics.

Our biomedical program is extended with new funding, which includes a $1.1 million two-year extension for our Anton program. This collaboration with D. E. Shaw Research has already produced remarkable new insights in protein function.

In genomics, Blacklight is helping to open the possibilities of next-generation sequence data in new areas of research — behavioral genomics and metagenomics — that didn’t exist a few years ago. Through XSEDE’s Extended Collaborative Support Services program, PSC scientist Phil Blood has provided nearly every software tool used in assembly and analysis in pre-compiled form, enhancing the advantages of Blacklight’s large shared memory for this work.

Computer trading on Wall Street — and the concerns it raises for U.S. financial systems — has been grabbing headlines, with media interest heightened by this year’s Facebook IPO difficulties. Large-scale data analysis by Mao Ye and colleagues yielded findings that illuminate these concerns. This work — enabled by Blacklight and Gordon at the San Diego Supercomputer Center — has caught the attention of policy-makers, including testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee.

The Los Angeles region has taken a lead among U.S. metropolitan areas in planning to face the social changes accruing with climate change. With Blacklight handling a large part of the computing, Alex Hall and his colleagues produced a first-of-its-kind study that quantifies the local effects of global climate change, laying the groundwork for regional planning to help the community adapt to these changes.

Blacklight also has proven to be powerful in cosmological modeling, with very large-scale work investigating the Universe’s phase change from “the Dark Ages” to reionization, and in quantum chemistry, with modeling of “conjugated polymers” that hold potential to revolutionize semiconductors.

PSC continues to be a resource for research and education in Pennsylvania. Our networking group serves the Pennsylvania-West Virginia region and carries out nationally recognized research in next-generation Internet resources. Along with advancing technology, we also help to educate the upcoming generation of scientists and science-literate citizens.

Our staff — second-to-none in talent and experience in high-performance computing — makes all this possible. We’re grateful for support from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and many others.