Supercomputing in Pennsylvania

PSC provides education, consulting, advanced network access and computational resources to scientists and engineers, teachers and students across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

3ROX:Network for Education

The Three Rivers Optical Exchange (3ROX) provides research and education network service to seven Intermediate Units in western Pennsylvania that serve 116 school districts, more than 600 schools, 21,000 teachers and 300,000 students. 3ROX links these schools, teachers and students to a global community of people and ideas.

Research & Training in Pennsylvania

Shared Memory Poker

Using PSC’s Blacklight system, Carnegie Mellon computer science professor Tuomas Sandholm and his Ph.D. student Sam Ganzfried did well at Toronto in July — the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) annual Computer Poker Competition. In recent years, poker has emerged as an AI challenge similar to that served for many years by chess, but more demanding. “In poker,” says Sandholm, “a player doesn’t know which cards the other player holds or what cards will be dealt in the future. Such games of incomplete information are much harder to solve than completeinformation games.”

Sandholm’s field, game theory, in which his work is internationally recognized, describes conflict in which the payoff is affected by actions and counteractions of intelligent opponents. Like many games, poker can be formulated mathematically, but the formulations are unimaginably huge. Two-player nolimit Texas Hold’em poker has a “game tree” of about 1071 nodes, hence the usefulness of large amounts of memory. At Toronto, running with Blacklight, the Sandholm group’s poker-playing agent finished second in the instant runoff scoring for two-player no-limit Texas Hold’em.

PSC’s new disk-based data storage, the Data Supercell, implemented with support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. Pennsylvania organizations using the Data Supercell include the National Energy Technology Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University, the Software Engineering Institute, the University of Pittsburgh Developmental Biology Program, and Drexel University’s Design Arts Group.

Continuing a long-standing relationship with Lehigh University, PSC in March did a half-day workshop on parallel programming of multi-core computing systems. PSC scientist John Urbanic presented material on programmerfriendly standards (OpenMP and Open ACC) to 35 students as part of Lehigh’s annual HPC Symposium.

In June, PSC scientific co-director Ralph Roskies and PSC director of networking Wendy Huntoon addressed information officers and other leaders of the 14 universities of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Their presentation highlighted how computational science and cyberinsfrastructure are changing research and outlined possible collaboration between PSC and PASSHE universities.

As part of a program sponsored by PAIUnet, Pennsylvania’s statewide, high-speed educational network, PSC in March helped to develop and coordinate a data-modeling session for high-school students taking part in the state-wide Marcellus Shale Project. Also, through its BEST and CAST programs (see pp. 8-9), PSC provides continuing training and curriculum materials for western Pennsylvania high-school math and science teachers.

Pennsylvania Research Innovation
Several projects in this booklet highlight research in Pennsylvania enabled through PSC:
Bright Lights, Big Cosmos: Astrophysicists at Carnegie Mellon University are simulating the period in the evolution of the Universe when stars, galaxies and black holes first appeared (p. 40).
Modeling Aortic Aneurysms: Drawing on data from Allegheny General Hospital, biomedical engineers are modeling aortic aneurysms so that it will be possible to better guide decisions on when surgery is required (p. 44).
When Small Worlds Collide: A Lehigh University physicist is calculating spin properties of molecules that could help lead to quantum computing, much faster than today’s supercomputers (p. 45).
Fighting Dengue Resurgence: Researchers at PSC and the University of Pittsburgh are developing tools to help public-health decision makers intervene effectively to stop the world-wide spread of dengue fever (p. 47).

Supercomputing Provided to Pennsylvania Organizations
From July 2011 through June 2012, PSC provided more than 7.8 million processor hours to 917 individual Pennsylvania researchers from 40 institutions. The following Pennsylvania corporations, universities, colleges and K-12 institutions used PSC resources during this period:

Albright College 

Allegheny General Hospital 

Allegheny-Singer Research Institute 

Bryn Mawr College 

Carnegie Mellon University 

Cedar Crest College 

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania 

Community College of Allegheny County 

Dickinson College 

Drexel University 

Duquesne University 

Dynamix Technologies 

Frazier School District 

Grove City College 

Haverford College 

Indiana University of PA, all campuses 

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania 

Lehigh University 

Life Technologies 

Lock Haven University 

Marconi Services 

Oakland Catholic High School 

Our Lady of Sacred Heart High School 

PA CYBER Charter School 

Pennsylvania State University, all campuses 

Pittsburgh Public Schools 

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center 

Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania 

Slippery Rock University 

Swarthmore College 

Temple University 

Thomas Jefferson University 

University of Pennsylvania 

University of Pittsburgh, all campuses 

University of the Sciences in Philadelphia 

Upper St. Clair High School 

Ursinus College 


Wilkes University 

Winchester-Thurston School