Jack Dongarra Emphasizes Research in High-end Math

Jack Dongarra, co-chair of the recently-released Department of Energy report on exascale computing, emphasizes that research into high-end mathematics is needed to keep the United States competent in cutting edge computing research.

Exascale computing (capable of one quintillion floating point operations per second) will enable us to solve problems in ways that are not feasible today and will result in significant scientific breakthroughs,” Dongarra said to The University of Tennessee’s Tennessee Today. “However, the transition to exascale poses numerous scientific and technological challenges.” (more…)

The Exascale Math Report Is Out

The Exascale Math Report Is Out

Karen Pao (US Department of Energy) writes: 

Almost 18 months ago, Bill Harrod (my boss) and I discussed what more needed to be done in mathematics for the era of extreme-scale computing. We had already started a modest program named “RX-Solvers” to look at fault-tolerant algorithms. As the three ASCR Exascale Co-Design Centers (exmatex.org, cesar.mcs.anl.gov, and exactcodesign.org) work to influence future computer architectures and consider the tradeoffs, more computational scientists have begun to realize that  it may be impossible to “port” codes to the future computers:  algorithms and the machines have been ill-suited for each other for a long time now; a new execution model may be required; and new algorithms for the new systems would need to be designed, implemented, and analyzed. Thus the Exascale Mathematics Working Group (EMWG) was born.  You can learn more about the EMWG – and read the report here.

A lot of work has gone into organizing the huge volume of materials the EMWG has processed into a coherent report.  As stated in the Summary, this report is a “synthesis of the perspectives” of over seventy members of the applied mathematics community on research gaps, approaches, and directions “into an integrated outlook on the applied mathematics research necessary to achieve scientific breakthroughs using exascale systems.”  Section 3 briefly lays out the hardware challenges that open up new avenues in mathematics research. My fellow mathematicians will find Section 4 creatively organized, comprehensive but with sufficient depth, touching on a wide variety of topics relevant to solving worthy problems on a computer – and always bringing out what’s important!  Section 5, in particular Section 5.3, talks about the dependencies on efforts outside of mathematics: in the era of extreme-scale computing, no one person can do it alone, and mutually-beneficial collaboration is the key to success.  And, of course, do not miss Section 6: Common Themes, Findings, and Recommendations. (more…)

Sparse Matrices and the London Electronic Music Scene

Sparse Matrices and the London Electronic Music Scene

Tim Davis (University of Florida) writes:

Last November, sparse matrices came together with electronic music to appear on billboards around London. What do sparse matrices have in common with the electronic music scene, you might wonder? The image on the billboards came from an algorithm I had created to translate music into visual art via a simple set of mathematical rules implemented in MATLAB. The story of how I stumbled upon this hobby of creating art with math began with my day job.  I create sparse matrix algorithms and have authored a SIAM book on the topic. The sparse matrix collection I curate is widely used by algorithm developers for benchmarking. (more…)

Industry Members Manufacture Ideas for SIAM

Industry Members Manufacture Ideas for SIAM

Thomas A. Grandine (Boeing Company) writes:

During the fall of 2013, SIAM canvassed its industrial members to get a better sense of the demographics and mood of this important segment of our membership.  Of the 665 surveys sent out, 130 (19.5%) were returned, very close to the 20% target that is typical for surveys of this type.  The results of that survey are available to read and digest.  While the results of the survey were in many respects unsurprising, a few unexpected results did present themselves.  Among the findings that startled me:

  • Fully one third of all employers reimburse their employees for their SIAM membership.  I had expected a much lower number and am very pleased to be wrong.
  • Of survey respondents, fewer than 5% are women.  This is considerably lower than for SIAM as a whole.
  • Fewer than 10% of the respondents have published an article in a SIAM Journal in the past six years.  I’m surprised that the number is so small.  That said, I’m also part of the guilty majority.
  • More than half our industrial members have not attended a SIAM conference in the past six years.
  • Almost 80% of our industrial members have had no role in a SIAM conference presentation in those six years. (more…)

Vortices Welcome, Polar or Otherwise

Vortices Welcome, Polar or Otherwise

Richard O. Moore (New Jersey Institute of Technology) writes:

The stated goal of SIAM Activity Groups (SIAGs) is to “provide a more focused forum for SIAM members interested in exploring one of the areas of applied mathematics, computational science, or applications”. SIAM’s new blog space seems the perfect venue for some casual exploration of these areas, starting with crude sketches of their domains. As the Secretary for the SIAG on Nonlinear Waves and Coherent Structures, I’ll try to wrap my arms around this fraught task.

Many of us still regard John Scott Russell’s celebrated ride along the Union Canal as the birthing event of the field of nonlinear waves. Solitons (bright and dark), breathers, fronts, kinks, vortices, instantons—these localized phenomena continue to fascinate due to their sheer improbability in spatially extended systems, and due to the convenience they offer in quantifying behavior in an ostensibly infinite-dimensional model through a finite-dimensional dynamical system. (more…)

Cameras, Computation, and Big Data Offer New Insight in Sports

Cameras, Computation, and Big Data Offer New Insight in Sports

Davidson College’s Tim Chartier and Miles Abbett write:

For several generations, fans have been tracking statistics on their favorite sporting events from baseball to cricket to soccer.  While many college basketball teams continue to assign roles to their staff regarding such record-keeping, cameras and computers are logging a large amount of data, previously unimaginable in the NBA.

In the fall of 2013, the NBA signed a contract with STATS LLC to place SportVU cameras in every arena.  The cameras are generally perched in a stadium’s rafters, snapping 25 frames per second. The images feed into a computer that translates the pictures into a treasure trove of data. (more…)

SIAM Classics: Giving New Life to Treasured Texts

SIAM Classics: Giving New Life to Treasured Texts

SIAM Acquisitions Editor Sara Murphy writes:

For more than 25 years, SIAM has been publishing books in the Classics in Applied Mathematics series, and I’ve had the pleasure of working on the series with editor-in-chief Bob O’Malley and many hard-working editorial board members for 10 of those years.  Titles in the Classics series differ from the rest of SIAM’s book publications by having already gone through a first life with another publisher who ultimately declared them out of print and returned copyright to the author(s). We discover potential additions to the series mainly through members of the series’ editorial board and the SIAM readership suggesting out-of-print books that contain foundational content, explain a concept in a uniquely understandable way, or both. Fortunately for our readers, SIAM’s policy is to keep books perpetually in print, which means once a book has found its second home in the Classics series, the risk of it becoming unavailable again is gone.

As the publishing world has changed with the introduction of print-on-demand (POD) methods and e-books, finding new additions to the Classics series has become more difficult. Many of the large commercial publishers have stopped printing hard copies of older books but retain the copyright to them because they can produce one or a handful via POD or can post an ePub or PDF file online and still keep a book “in print” in a modern sense of the term. These newer formats keep valuable resources accessible in some manner to instructors, researchers, and students who want to use them.

(more…)

How to Organize a SIAM Minisymposium

How to Organize a SIAM Minisymposium

Tamara Kolda (Sandia National Laboratories) writes: 

Organizing a SIAM Minisymposium can seem like an intimidating endeavor, but it’s an opportunity to bring together researchers in your field. Moreover, you get to pick the speakers and the topic. It also helps for you to become better known within your field. I focus here on SIAM meetings, but the procedure is nearly the same for other meetings.

Step 1. Come up with a title and short description (6-8 weeks ahead)

The idea of a minisymposium is to bring together four talks on a common theme. Based on my very unscientific survey, I conclude that 99% of people do not read the minisymposium abstracts, so it’s nice to have a descriptive title that will attract the right audience. For those few who proceed to read the abstract, in 100 words or less you can flesh out the idea with a few more details. You’ll want to get your idea together about 6-8 weeks ahead on the minisymposium submission deadline (which is usually six months before the conference). (more…)

Finite or spotted – the answers

Des Higham (University of Strathclyde) gives us the answers to his puzzles from last week: 

Apologies if you wasted too much time on these, or if you don’t find yourself on the same wavelength as my answers.

Organisation?  Yes, I am in one (4)

“in” implies that the answer is in the clue and “organisation” is the definition. Answer: SIAM

Study new cars here (8)

“new” indicates an anagram and “study” is the definition. “cars here” gives the required eight letters. Answer: RESEARCH (more…)

Confessions of a Vice President At Large

Confessions of a Vice President At Large

Nick Higham (University of Manchester) writes:

At the end of 2013 I completed four years (two terms) as SIAM Vice President at Large (VPAL), which followed four years as an elected member of the Board of Trustees. In this post I will reflect on the experience and give some insight into the role.

First, a brief overview of SIAM governance. The SIAM Board and Council provide oversight and direction for SIAM, with the Council being concerned with academic matters and the Board with financial matters (though many aspects are considered by both). The high level operation of the society is the responsibility of the officers, some of whom are elected (President, Vice President at Large, Secretary) and some of whom are appointed, typically by the President with the advice and consent of the Council and Board. The 70 or so permanent SIAM staff in Philadelphia ensure the smooth, day-to-day running of the organization.

The SIAM by-laws state that there will be an elected position of Vice President and that this person will assume the duties of the President if the President is unable to serve and there is no President-Elect at the time (every year there is either a President-Elect or a Past-President). (more…)