Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies Day Proclaimed in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County

Parallel State Proclamations Also Recognize PSC Founders’ Legacy of Service and Discovery

Feb. 16, 2018

By proclamation of the mayor and the county executive, today is Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies Day in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Mayor Peduto and County Executive Fitzgerald recognized the now-retired scientific directors of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) for their service to the city’s and county’s technical base and scientific progress over 30 years.

On Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, respectively, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives voted on proclamations similarly recognizing the pair.


“What Mike and Ralph created in PSC has stood the test of time, providing lasting value to the national science community,” said Nick Nystrom, PSC’s Interim Director. “Their vision led to a wealth of discoveries that expanded human knowledge and improved the way we live and work.”

PSC began in 1986 as a fortuitous confluence of expertise. Levine, a physicist at Carnegie Mellon University, and Roskies, a physicist at the University of Pittsburgh, needed bigger and better computers to help them carry out the complex calculations they needed for their work in quantum dynamics.

They had, they soon found, plenty of company among their fellow faculty members. The need was there for a supercomputer, and a supercomputing center, that served the scientists of Pittsburgh and beyond. When the National Science Foundation put out a call for researchers willing to take on the responsibility of building and forming such a center, Levine and Roskies, with the help of James Kasdorf of Westinghouse, took up the challenge. Levine and Roskies would direct the new center; Kasdorf would run the day-to-day operations of its machines.

Working with leading-edge suppliers, the team designed and built 19 highly advanced and productive high performance computing systems. PSC earned a reputation for designing, acquiring, installing and deploying systems that were “serial number 1 or 2” or the first to ship to a customer or completely unique, making them highly productive scientific instruments. Today’s systems at PSC are combining high performance computing, artificial intelligence, and Big Data to help researchers in the “hard sciences” as well as biology, social science and the digital humanities who never before needed computers.

Starting with the delivery of PSC’s first Cray X-MP/48 supercomputer in 1986, the center’s founders together created an environment for innovation at each stage, from winning that first grant to hiring key people with unique skills, and then empowering them to make innovative contributions. They fostered a community of scientific and computing researchers that enable scientific discovery by re-thinking the architecture and software of the systems they make available.

Tonight in a private event, PSC will honor Levine, Roskies and Kasdorf for their legacy of service and discovery.