FROM THE DIRECTOR

Welcome to the second issue of PSC Science Highlights. 

I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies, whose vision created PSC and then sustained it for more than three decades. Through their leadership and with the continuing support of PSC’s outstanding staff, PSC is known for its commitment to science and to users. I look forward to building on the remarkable foundation Mike and Ralph established, both continuing PSC’s excellence in leadership computing and folding in emerging fields, such as artificial intelligence (AI), as we’ve already begun with Bridges. I also look forward to working even more closely with both Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. 

I’m happy to report that Bridges successfully passed its first operational review, earning high marks in user satisfaction and scientific achievement. Bridges now supports more than 1,000 projects and 4,000 users. 

Researchers nationwide are using Bridges for research, collaboration and education. For example, in education, Carnegie Mellon’s Deep Reinforcement Learning course last spring made the system available to about 200 students. And in international research collaboration, the 2017 Jelinek Summer Workshop on Speech and Language Technology (JSALT) consisted of a two-week summer school followed by a six-week workshop, bringing together about 60 experts from around the world to develop AI approaches to language processing. 

You can read more about research enabled by Bridges in this issue. I’d also like to share an update on a story in our last (Spring 2017) issue, about the AI program Libratus, developed by Prof. Tuomas Sandholm, which ran on Bridges. Libratus made history in artificial intelligence by defeating some of the best poker players in the world at heads up, no-limit Texas Hold’em. A further refinement of Libratus, named Lengpudashi, or “Cold Poker Master,” reinforced the value of strategic reasoning at an exhibition in China. Strategic Machine Inc. has licensed Libratus to target a broad set of applications such as business strategy, cybersecurity and medical treatment planning, demonstrating transition from AI research to commercialization. 

Up to 10 percent of Bridges’ capacity is available to industry to foster discovery and innovation. In addition to making the system available to researchers across the country for academic research under the usual XSEDE allocation system, we are pursuing avenues by which Bridges can advance the private sector under these discretionary allocations. 

We’re amplifying our focus in two timely and vital areas. PSC’s new Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Group, led by Paola Buitrago, addresses the convergence of HPC, AI and Big Data for Bridges and beyond. The new AI & BD Group will keep PSC at the forefront of the rapidly evolving and increasingly ubiquitous field of AI, spanning hardware, software, algorithms, research, education and industrial outreach. Our Computational Biology Group, led by Phil Blood (who is also principal investigator for PSC’s Anton 2 project), now encompasses Biomedical Applications and Public Health Applications, to enable a unified strategy across the life sciences. Significantly, PSC, with CMU and Pitt, was recently awarded $4.8 million by NIH to establish an archive for confocal fluorescence microscopy brain data. 

Finally, I would like to acknowledge all our funders, especially the NSF, the NIH and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I’d also like to thank our staff for the superlative work that made all these successes happen. 

Nicholas A Nystrom signature

Nicholas A. Nystrom

Interim Director