NCSA’s Bill Gropp Recognized for Major Contributions to High Performance Computing

10.06.16 -

National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) Acting Director Dr. William "Bill" Gropp has been named as the recipient of the 2016 ACM/IEEE Computer Society Ken Kennedy Award for highly influential contributions to the programmability of high performance parallel and distributed computers.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the IEEE Computer Society will present Gropp the award at SC16: International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis, which starts November 13 in Salt Lake City.

Gropp has been Acting Director of NCSA since August 2016 and been NCSA's Chief Scientist since 2015. Gropp is also a professor Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign holding the Thomas M. Siebel Chair of Computer Science.

"Ken Kennedy was a brilliant researcher and a generous man who had a tremendous impact on the field, both through his technical leadership and how he mentored and supported those around him," Gropp said. "Among many other things, Ken was responsible for starting the process that led to the MPI standard, which has in turn been so important to me and to all of HPC. It is a great honor for me to receive this award."

Gropp was one of the leaders in the development of the Message Passing Interface (MPI) standard. MPI has become the de facto standard for programming distributed-memory computers in scientific applications, and has enabled a wide range of scientists and engineers to use the enormous performance potential of highly parallel computer systems for over two decades. He was a key author in the development of MPI-I, MPI-2, and MPI-3. As part of the standardization process, Gropp also designed and developed MPICH, the first functional implementation of MPI. This freely available software remains one of the most widely used implementations of MPI, with nearly 2,000 downloads per month.

Along with collaborators David Keyes and Xiao-Chuan Cai, Gropp developed and analyzed key scalable parallel algorithms for adaptive mesh refinement and domain decomposition methods, which are now widely used in parallel applications. This work led to the development of a numerical library, the Portable, Extensible Toolkit for Scientific Computation (PETSc), which Gropp developed in collaboration with Barry Smith. PETSc has been used in a variety of applications, including nano-simulations, biology, fusion, geosciences, environmental modeling, fluid dynamics and software engineering, among others.

In bestowing the Ken Kennedy Award, ACM and IEEE also cited Gropp's outstanding service to the field. In 2011, Gropp helped launch the ACM Special Interest Group for High Performance Computing (SIGHPC), the first international group devoted to the needs of students, faculty and practitioners in high performance computing. He also served as the editor of CONNECT, the newsletter for SIGHPC, as chair of the Gordon Bell Prize Committee, and in various capacities for numerous conference committees.

He has authored more than 187 technical publications, including the book Using MPI, which is in its third edition and has sold over 18,000 copies. Gropp received the 2014 SIAM/ACM Prize in Computational Science and Engineering, along with the PETSc Core Development Team (Satish Balay, Jed Brown, Matthew Knepley, Lois Curfman McInnes, Barry Smith and Hong Zhang). He was elected an ACM Fellow, IEEE Fellow, and SIAM Fellow, and is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering.

ACM and the IEEE Computer Society co-sponsor the Kennedy Award, which was established in 2009, to recognize substantial contributions to programmability and productivity in computing and significant community service or mentoring contributions. It was named for the late Ken Kennedy, founder of Rice University's computer science program and a world expert on high performance computing. The Kennedy Award carries a US $5,000 honorarium endowed by the SC Conference Steering Committee.

About NCSA

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a hub of transdisciplinary research and digital scholarship where University of Illinois faculty, staff, and students, and collaborators from around the globe, unite to address research grand challenges for the benefit of science and society. Current research focus areas are Bioinformatics and Health Sciences, Computing and Data Sciences, Culture and Society, Earth and Environment, Materials and Manufacturing, and Physics and Astronomy. The Center also provides integrated cyberinfrastructure—computing, data, networking, and visualization resources and expertise that are essential to the work of scientists, engineers, and scholars at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and across the country. NCSA is also an engine of economic impact for the state and the nation, helping companies address computing and data challenges and providing hands-on training for undergraduate and graduate students and post-docs.

About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world's largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field's challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession's collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for lifelong learning, career development, and professional networking.

About IEEE

IEEE is the world's largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. IEEE and its members inspire a global community to innovate for a better tomorrow through its highly cited publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities. IEEE is the trusted "voice" for engineering, computing, and technology information around the globe.

There are more than 420,000 IEEE members in over 160 countries. IEEE publishes a third of the world's technical literature in electrical engineering, computer science, and electronics and is a leading developer of international standards that underpin many of today's telecommunications, information technology, and power-generation products and services.

About SC16

SC16 sponsored by ACM and IEEE-CS offers a complete technical education program and exhibition to showcase the many ways high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis lead to advances in scientific discovery, research, education and commerce. This premier international conference includes a globally attended technical program, workshops, tutorials, a world class exhibit area, demonstrations and opportunities for hands-on learning.