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July 2016 — July 2016

How Art and Dance Are Making Computer Science Culturally Relevant (Jul 29, 2016)
This fall, my computer science class will follow the new AP Computer Science curriculum framework while also including culturally responsive instruction that makes use of students’ interests, community settings, and cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Some of the students enjoy freestyle rap and dance, so they will learn how to simulate or enhance their performances using code. Other students study drawing and painting, so they will learn how to use code to create their artwork. This approach is ...
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How To Launch Your Career In Computer Science While You're Still In High School (Jul 29, 2016)
When in high school and preparing for a career in computer science, a few things come to mind that might be helpful. First, you need to make sure that you can get into the major. That is an increasingly nontrivial challenge. If you get into elite schools like the Ivies or Stanford/Duke/MIT, you shouldn’t have a problem choosing your own major. But at many public universities, it is increasingly hard to get into CS because of the sheer demand by incoming undergrads. You need to make sure that y...
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New File System from PSC Tackles Image Processing on the Fly (Jul 28, 2016)
Processing the high-volume datasets, particularly image data, generated by modern scientific instruments is a huge challenge. Last week, a team of researchers from the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center reported a novel approach to coping with the data flood – the Virtual Volume File System (VVFS) – which they say significantly reduces storage capacity requirements and facilitates on-the-fly processing to minimize I/O traffic and latency limitations. Although the researchers developed VVFS cap...
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Decoding the Lack of Diversity in Tech Through Female Computer Science Programs (Jul 28, 2016)
The nonprofit organization Girls Who Code states that in middle schools, 74 percent of girls express an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), but when choosing a college major, only 0.4 percent select computer science. Growing up, I had always shown an interest in the sciences, but had never considered a career in computer science specifically because I had no prior exposure to the field. I thought that it would be too difficult to jump into, and it was dishearteni...
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Hey Robot, Shimmy Like a Centipede (Jul 27, 2016)
Centipedes move quickly. And when one is coming directly at you, you might not care to spend a moment pondering its agility. So perhaps our lack of understanding about just why centipedes move with such dexterity, even over obstacles, has been related to fear. But undeterred, researchers at Kyoto University have asked precisely this question, and have turned to computer simulations and ultimately robotics to find an answer. What they have uncovered is a surprising insight into the mechanics of l...
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How President Obama Shaped the Future of Digital Health (Jul 27, 2016)
A new leader of the free world will soon be voted into office. Shortly thereafter, he or she will begin a minimum four-year journey to steer the country toward prosperity, safety and global leadership. With many changes undoubtedly coming, let’s take a look at the technological impact of one of the biggest initiatives that President Obama has championed: healthcare reform. Whatever your stance on the Affordable Care Act, there’s little doubt that it has been responsible for ushering into the...
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Atom-sized Storage Could Change the Face of Data and Memory (Jul 26, 2016)
The secret to our data storage woes could be an atom or, more precisely, a grid of them. Atoms, the smallest building blocks in nature, have their appeal as a storage medium. We certainly need a new storage paradigm. Something that takes up considerably less space than the current large-scale solution: data centers. Dotted throughout the world, data centers are like highly organized versions of our basements, crammed full of stuff we only occasionally access, but still consuming vast amounts of ...
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New Remote-controlled Microrobots for Medical Operations (Jul 26, 2016)
For the past few years, scientists around the world have been studying ways to use miniature robots to better treat a variety of diseases. The robots are designed to enter the human body, where they can deliver drugs at specificlocations or perform precise operations like clearing clogged-up arteries. By replacing invasive, often complicated surgery, they could optimize medicine. Selman Sakar teamed up with Hen-Wei Huang and Bradley Nelson to develop a simple and versatile method for building su...
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Keeping Big Data Cool at SDSC (Jul 23, 2016)
When most people think of a supercomputer center, they may think of one massive computer performing a single task. Inside the data center at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California San Diego, however, there are several large supercomputer systems, each performing multiple tasks simultaneously across a wide range of science domains. Keeping SDSC’s main data center cool enough so that its Comet and Gordon supercomputers, among smaller clusters, don’t overheat ...
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Big Data and Its Developer Fallout (Jul 23, 2016)
As the internet social turf wars continue to mature, the land grab is becoming much better understood. With a few companies controlling 95 percent of the social data, the internet is more closed and much more controlled than ever before. The term (and concept behind) big data has been thrown around a lot over the past 15 months. What I’m referring to here is user data, primarily from social businesses that can be leveraged to build other apps and businesses if done within the confines of a com...
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Hanging Out with Anki's Cozmo, the Toy Robot Putting AI at Our Fingertips (Jul 22, 2016)
When playing with Cozmo, Anki’s palm-sized artificial intelligence robot, it’s easy to forgot all of the engineering and software running behind the scenes. Every action, from Cozmo’s audible chirps of victory when it wins a game to its childlike mannerisms when it recognizes your face, conceals tens of thousands of lines of code. When the product launches this October, Anki hopes consumers won’t think of its AI robot as undecipherable technology. Instead, the company wants people to won...
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ASC15 Rewrote the World Record (Jul 22, 2016)
A new world record was set by the Huazhong University team at the Student Cluster Competition at ISC 2016. Using Nvidia Tesla K80 GPUs, the team recorded 12.56 teraflops on the LINPACK benchmark, while staying within a 3-Kw power consumption limit. This is the third straight time the Tesla K80 has been used to break this record since the GPU was launched a year and a half ago. A team from Zhejiang University, of China, set the previous mark, at the Asia Supercomputer Community 2016 challenge in ...
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3-D Simulations and NASA Supercomputer Advance Research of the Origin of Stars (Jul 21, 2016)
What processes are involved in the formation of individual stars and stellar clusters in our own galaxy and other galaxies? Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are using NASA's most powerful supercomputer, Pleiades, to create unique star-formation simulations to answer this fundamental scientific question. Like something from a video game, the simulations zoom through the entire evolution of young star clusters. A giant cloud of inter...
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Genomic Sequencing at Children’s Mercy: Saving Time to Save Lives (Jul 21, 2016)
Genomic sequencing – that is, rapid sequencing – is instrumental to diagnosing and treating critically ill patients, and managing the high data volumes involved in genomics is essential to the process. Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO, operates what it says is the world’s first whole genome sequencing center in a pediatric setting, where physicians, clinical laboratory scientists, molecular geneticists, bioinformaticians and software engineers work to sequence and analyze rar...
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Black Hole Jet Discovery (Jul 20, 2016)
Using supercomputing resources provided by the National Science Foundation’s eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) and the Savio computer at UC Berkeley, Alexander “Sasha” Tchekhovskoy and co-researcher Omer Bromberg — formerly a Lyman Spitzer Jr. postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University, and currently at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel — resolved the 40-year puzzle of the astrophysical jet dichotomy. Altogether the simulation effort took about 5...
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Huge Home-built Computer Used for Tetris (Jul 20, 2016)
A man has finished building an enormous computer in the sitting room of his bungalow in Cambridge. James Newman started work on the "Mega processor", which is 33ft wide and 6ft high, in 2012. It does the job of a chip-sized microprocessor and Mr. Newman has spent $53,000 creating it. It contains 40,000 transistors, 10,000 LED lights and it weighs around half a tonne (500kg). So far, he has used it to play the classic video game Tetris. In a video demonstration he admits the game isn't easy to pl...
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NCAR Awards 42 Million Core Hours on Yellowstone Supercomputer (Jul 19, 2016)
Nine science projects were recently chosen to receive computational time and storage space on the Yellowstone supercomputer in Cheyenne. The most recent recommended allocations total 42.6 million core hours, 270 terabytes of archival storage, and 47,000 hours on data analysis and visualization systems, Shader says. To provide some perspective on what these numbers mean, here are some useful comparisons. In simplest terms, Yellowstone can be thought of as 72,576 personal computers that are clever...
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SDSC, UC San Diego Health Sciences to Launch Year 2 of Mentoring Program (Jul 19, 2016)
The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California San Diego, in collaboration with the UC San Diego Division of Health Sciences, is preparing to launch the second year of a new mentoring program designed to provide a pathway for high school students to gain access to experts in their field of interest. The first phase of the Mentor Assistance Program (MAP), co-founded by Ange Mason, SDSC’s education program manager, and Kellie Church, assistant professor in the Departme...
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XSEDE16 Program Emphasizes Inclusion, Says Chair Kelly Gaither (Jul 18, 2016)
HPCWire reached out to XSEDE16 conference chair Dr. Kelly Gaither to get the inside track on this year’s program, her work in scientific visualization and her commitment to increasing diversity in HPC. Gaither serves as the director of Visualization at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at The University of Texas at Austin. Over the past ten years, she has actively participated in conferences related to her field and has given numerous invited talks. During the interview she said, “Attendee...
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University of Melbourne Releases Spartan HPC Service (Jul 18, 2016)
The University of Melbourne has launched a new high performance computing (HPC) service called Spartan. It combines traditional HPC with a cloud computing component and the university claims that no other university has put a system like this into production. University of Melbourne head of research computer services, Bernard Meade, said the application of HPC and cloud techniques would increase research productivity across a wide range of disciplines. Spartan can grow and evolve according to th...
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Supercomputing for Better Fireworks (Jul 17, 2016)
To improve the bombastic experience, scientists took to supercomputers to concoct the perfect pyrotechnical recipe. Fireworks accompany all types of celebrations, from weddings to sporting events, to political rallies, and holidays. They achieve their expected effect when a launched packet of combustible particles detonates overhead. As the ensuing explosion forces these grains outward — unlike in the vacuum of space where they would travel forever outward — the drag in our atmosphere slows ...
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Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Dedicates New Supercomputer Facility (Jul 17, 2016)
Officials from the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and government representatives today dedicated a new supercomputing facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The $9.8 million modular and sustainable facility provides the Laboratory flexibility to accommodate future advances in computer technology and meet a rapidly growing demand for unclassified high-performance computing (HPC). The facility houses supercomputing systems in support of N...
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Now Hiring: Women With These Degrees (Jul 15, 2016)
Picture a software engineer or video game developer. What do you see? Chances are it's not a woman. One reason is that women are still very much in the minority in computer sciences and engineering. Even though there are many efforts underway to encourage girls from a young age to pursue STEM fields, the pipeline of women coming out of college with degrees in engineering and computer science is still very small relative to men. That's also why talented women entering the workforce with degrees i...
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Analog Computing Returns (Jul 15, 2016)
A transistor, conceived of in digital terms, has two states: on and off, which can represent the 1s and 0s of binary arithmetic. But in analog terms, the transistor has an infinite number of states, which could, in principle, represent an infinite range of mathematical values. Digital computing, for all its advantages, leaves most of transistors’ informational capacity on the table. In recent years, analog computers have proven to be much more efficient at simulating biological systems than di...
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We Need To Talk About AI And Access To Publicly Funded Data-sets (Jul 14, 2016)
For more than a decade the company formerly known as Google, latterly rebranded Alphabet to illustrate the full breadth of its A to Z business ambitions, has engineered an annually increasing revenue generating empire which last year pulled in ~$75 billion. And it’s done this mostly by mining user data for ad targeting intel. It’s an abstract idea for starters, and a personal cost that’s far harder to quantify given how unclear it is what Google really does with the data it gathers and pro...
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