NCSA wins DOE INCITE Award for physics-inspired AI project

11.16.20 -

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is thrilled that the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science is awarding supercomputing allocations to an NCSA-led research project through their Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program. These competitive awards are presented to high-impact computational work that pursues transformational advances in science and engineering.

NCSA Center for Artificial Intelligence Innovation Interim Director Eliu Huerta will lead a team of AI and high performance computing experts from NCSA, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), NVIDIA, and IBM. The group will combine physics-inspired, interpretable AI models with extreme-scale computing to create the first generation of production scale AI algorithms that enable data-driven discovery in multi-messenger astrophysics. Using the Summit supercomputer at ORNL, the project aims to develop open-source AI tools capable of supporting scientific breakthroughs accelerated by new and improved observatories.

"We are very excited to continue working with our friends at Oak Ridge, NVIDIA, and IBM. This INCITE award is a testament to the key role that AI now plays in the HPC landscape. Having access to Summit will enable my team to continue at the forefront of the creation and deployment of disruptive, open-source, and physics-inspired AI tools for multi-messenger astrophysics," mentions Huerta.

The DOE's Office of Science provides a portfolio of national high-performance computing facilities housing some of the world's most advanced supercomputers. DOE's Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) and Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) jointly manage the INCITE program, open to researchers from academia, government laboratories, and industry.

Read the full press release from ORNL and find more information on the project below:

Project Title: Multi-Messenger Astrophysics at Extreme Scale in Summit

Principal Investigator: Eliu Huerta, NCSA/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


  • Roland Haas, NCSA/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Elise Jennings, Irish Center for High-End Computing
  • Tom Gibbs, NVIDIA
  • Max Katz, NVIDIA
  • Jeff Larkin, NVIDIA
  • Junqi Yin, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Scientific Discipline: Physics, Astrophysics

INCITE Allocation:

  • Site: Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Machine (Allocation): IBM AC922 (145,000 Summit node-hours)

Research Summary: Astrophysical sources that may be contemporaneously heard in gravitational waves, seen in electromagnetic waves and felt with cosmic neutrinos—multi-messenger astrophysics—have radically transformed the landscape of theoretical physics and observational astronomy. Tens of gravitational wave sources detected to date have provided ample observational evidence for the existence and merger of black hole binaries; neutron star collisions have been identified as the engines that power short gamma rays bursts and have provided the first glimpse of matter at supranuclear densities.

Upgraded and new scientific facilities for multi-messenger astrophysics will drive a major scientific revolution within the next decade. With improved and new observatories, the number of multi-messenger sources will increase by orders of magnitude, whereas available compute resources to enable discovery may remain the same or, as seen in practice, may even contract as science teams repurpose compute resources at their discretion. Therefore, a paradigm shift in computing and data, inspired by breakthroughs in the big data revolution is urgent and critical.

Huerta's team will combine physics-inspired, interpretable AI models, and extreme-scale computing to create the first generation of production scale AI algorithms to enable novel data-driven discovery methodologies for multi-messenger astrophysics.

About NCSA

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides supercomputing and advanced digital resources for the nation's science enterprise. At NCSA, University of Illinois faculty, staff, students, and collaborators from around the globe use advanced digital resources to address research grand challenges for the benefit of science and society. NCSA has been advancing one third of the Fortune 50® for more than 30 years by bringing industry, researchers, and students together to solve grand challenges at rapid speed and scale.