Director's Statement
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Dr. Jack Dongarra

In 2011, the Innovative Computing Laboratory is celebrating 22 years of leadership in enabling technologies for high performance computing. Looking back over the 22-year period, the evolution and growth of the technology for computing has been truly astonishing. In an environment where technology changes every 18 months, ICL cannot afford to stand still. In 1989 the speed of a supercomputer was measured in gigaflops and in gigabytes. Today our measures are petaflops for speed and petabytes for memory, a million-fold increase over the standards of two decades ago. The research that ICL has undertaken in the past decade has followed a natural progression and growth from our original tread of numerical linear algebra to performance evaluation, to software repositories, and to distributed computing.

This is an exciting time for computing as we begin the journey on the road to exa-scale computing. ‘Going to the exascale’ will mean radical changes in computing architecture, software, and algorithms – basically, vastly increasing the levels of parallelism to the point of billions of threads working in tandem – which will force radical changes in how hardware is designed and how we go about solving problems. There are many computational and technical challenges ahead that must be overcome. The challenges are great, different than the current set of challenges, and exciting research problems await us. ICL’s research agenda has never been stagnant; we have always taken leadership roles in enabling technologies for high performance computing.

The Innovative Computing Laboratory is prepared to address some of the most important computational scientific issues of our time. Our plans for the future are founded on our accomplishments as well as our vision. That vision challenges us to be a world leader in enabling technologies and software for scientific computing. We have been and will continue to be providers of high performance tools to tackle science’s most challenging problems, and play a major role in the development of standards for scientific computing in general.

We are building from a firm foundation. Over the past 22 years, we have developed robust research projects, attracted some of the best and brightest students and researchers, and created leading-edge research programs. The ICL staff’s ongoing ability to apply the latest technologies to provide advanced services and solutions for the scientific computing community underscores the ICL’s leadership role. Standards and efforts such as PVM, MPI, LAPACK, ScaLAPACK, BLAS, ATLAS, Netlib, NHSE, Top500, PAPI, NetSolve, Open-MPI, FT-MPI, the HPC Challenge Benchmark, and the LINPACK Benchmark have all left their mark on the scientific community. We can be proud of the recognition and use our tools receive. We are continuing these efforts with IESP, PLASMA, MAGMA, DAGuE, and MuMMI as well as other innovative computing projects.

We continue to grow in terms of the resources we have at our disposal. We have ongoing efforts to strengthen our organization and to ensure the proper balance and integration of research and projects. The pace of change will continue to accelerate in the coming years.

Advancing to the next stage of growth for computational simulation and modeling will require us to solve basic research problems in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at the same time as we create and promulgate a new paradigm for the development of scientific software. To make progress on both fronts simultaneously will require a level of sustained, interdisciplinary collaboration among the core research communities that, in the past, has only been achieved by forming and supporting research centers dedicated to such a common purpose. I believe that the time has come for the leaders of the Computational Science movement to focus their energies on creating such software research centers to carry out this indispensable part of the mission. I have every confidence that our community stands ready to step up again to this momentous new effort.

This is truly a time of great excitement in the design of software and algorithms for the next generation, perhaps a once in a life time opportunity, and we will be part of that continuing evolution of the high performance computing ecology.

During these exciting times, I am grateful to our sponsors for their continued endorsement of our efforts. My special thanks and congratulations go to the ICL staff and students for their skill, dedication, and tireless efforts in making the ICL one of the best centers in the world for enabling technologies.

- Jack Dongarra, Director of the Innovative Computing Laboratory