BIG UNDERSTANDING

Feb 17th - Feb 18th 2016
Four Seasons Hotel Austin
Austin
About

Science is dramatically expanding our understanding of the world around us and thereby improving the technologies by which we advance human progress. Computing is being harnessed into that service in ways both straightforward (Big Data) and subtle, yielding Big Understanding through large scale simulation, complex statistical and logical reasoning, finding needles (e.g., long chains of cause and effect which form scenarios of interest) in haystacks of big data, and other means of doing what human computational and analytical skills cannot accomplish alone. Sixty years ago the referent of the word “computer” shifted from people to machines; in the coming years we may witness a sea change in which the primary meaning of “computer scientist” will be a program that designs and carries out experiments.

Agenda
Field Trip

Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) and University of Texas

Feb 19, 2016

TTI/Vanguard invites conference attendees to participate in an action-packed morning the day following the conference. Note that the Petawatt Laser tour has space limitations and can only accommodate three groups of 15 people. 

Register early to reserve your spot. The tour of the main University of Texas campus will include three sites of interest, each brighter than the last.

The field trip will begin at TACC, where the main attraction is the supercomputing facility per se, one huge room that houses 13 distinct supercomputing clusters; one—Stampede, composed of Dell servers—occupies fully half the space and ranked as high as number six on the Top500 list (2013).

  • We will learn about the distinct characteristics of the various versions of big iron within TACC and their particular applications and strengths.
  • We will see the novel mineral oil-based cooling system by Austin startup Green Revolution Cooling, which permits ultradense packing of servers, due to oil’s high heat capacity relative to air. Yes, they submerge servers in vats of oil.
  • We will learn about the solar farm that will produce high-voltage DC power to keep the machines humming (and provide much-desired shade for TACC workers’ parking lot).

The tour of the main University of Texas campus will include three sites of interest, each brighter than the last.

  • First will be a visit to the inquiring minds of the Freshman Research Initiative. As we will have learned from program director Erin Dolan, freshmen and sophomore students are capable of conducting valuable research with proper mentoring and guidance. We will visit a select few in their labs to see and hear what they are doing to advance science.
  • Andrew Solis, the manager of TACC’s Visualization Laboratory, will demonstrate the various features of the Vislab, including (a) Stallion, the world’s second largest tiled display (328 mexapixels, 16x5-monitor array, supported by 20 Dell workstations, each powering four monitors), (b) Lasso, a 3x2-monitor array with 32-point multitouch capability, supported by a single Dell workstation, and (c) zSpace, a stereoscopic virtual holographic display; powered by an nVidia Quadro 6000, users will use a laser stylus to manipulate objects in an immersive, interactive 3-D environment.
  • Prof. Michael Donovan will provide a tour of the Texas Petawatt Laser, currently the highest peak power laser in the world and capable of inducing fusion. It is used to perform fundamental research into exotic states of matter with high energy densities and ultrahigh electromagnetic fields. In addition to enabling novel science, this facility is a marvel of engineering.
Venue

Four Seasons Hotel Austin

98 San Jacinto Blvd
Austin, TX 78701
+1 512.478.4500