New Advanced Computing Institute Bolsters NW Big Data Cluster

1/9/13Follow @bromano

The burgeoning big data cluster in Washington is getting a boost with a new partnership between the University of Washington and the federal government’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

They are forming the Northwest Institute for Advanced Computing, based at the UW. Experts from the UW and PNNL will research system design, data-driven science, modeling, and simulation, and provide training in the computational tools necessary to work with the data proliferation sweeping across many fields.

“Computing has transformed science, engineering and society in remarkable ways,” says Doug Ray, associate director of PNNL’s Fundamental & Computational Sciences Directorate. “But as huge amounts of new data are generated daily by scientific instruments and household electronics, new technologies and approaches are needed to give that information more meaning.”

Ed Lazowska, a top UW computer science professor, says the university and PNNL “have significant and complementary strengths,” including engineering, applied math, computer science, and high-performance computing system design and evaluation.

“Together we’ll be able to do amazing things,” Lazowska says.

The institute also promises to help produce more computer science graduates with in-demand skills, feeding a hungry private sector of local big data companies such as Decide and Tableau Software, whose CEO recently lamented the shortage of talent. Longer-term plans include collaboration with private big data companies in the area.

PNNL is paying for the institute’s co-directors: Vikram Jandhyala (pictured above at left), UW electrical engineering chairman and director of the Applied Computational Engineering Lab; and Moe Khaleel (above right), a PNNL fellow and director of its Computational Science and Mathematics research division.

About 10 PNNL researchers are expected to be in Seattle, participating in the institute, by the end of 2013, along with at least a dozen UW faculty, mostly affiliated with the eScience Institute. The new group will make use of existing computational resources, such as the eScience Institute’s Hyak supercomputer, and the Olympus supercomputer at PNNL.

The institute and its participating researchers will submit proposals for funding from other agencies.

Research focus areas will initially include analysis of large graphs, smart grid simulation, and cloud computing encryption. The participating institutions’ existing research strengths also point toward possible work on climate modeling, astronomy, chemistry, physics, and molecular science.

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

By posting a comment, you agree to our terms and conditions.