PRAC winners represent a range of disciplines

04.21.10 -

Petascale Computing Resource Allocations (PRAC awards) from the National Science Foundation allow research teams to work closely with the Blue Waters project team in preparing their codes. The codes and projects address key challenges faced by our society and explore fundamental scientific and engineering problems.

These multiyear collaborations include help porting and re-engineering existing applications. In some cases, the teams will build entirely new applications based on new programming models.

Current projects—18 representing about 30 institutions—represent a wide range of scientific disciplines. They will drive scientific discovery for years to come. Some of the projects are:

Testing hypotheses about climate prediction at unprecedented resolutions on the NSF Blue Waters system
A team from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Colorado State University, the University of Miami, and the Institute for Global Environment and Society plan to test two hypotheses about the Earth's climate system using Blue Waters. The first is that the transport fluxes and other effects associated with cloud processes and ocean large-scale eddy mixing are significantly different from the theoretically derived averages embodied in current-generation climate models, and that these differences explain a large portion of the errors in these models. The second is that a more faithful representation of these eddy-scale processes will increase the predictability of the climates generated by climate models. The project team plans to perform three sets of numerical experiments using three cutting-edge climate models: the Community Climate System Model, a new version of the Community Climate System Model that includes an innovative treatment of cloud processes, and the Colorado State University Global Cloud-Resolving Model.

Petascale simulations of complex biological behavior in fluctuating environments
Change an organism's environment, and it adapts. That's true of complex creatures, and it's true of unicellular organisms. A research team led by the University of California at Davis' Ilias Tagkopoulos plans to use Blue Waters to model multi-scale biological systems where processes ranging from gene expression and intracellular biochemistry to ecosystem dynamics are in play. The study will look at the influence of nutrient concentrations and mutation on adaptation, compare different strategies for survival in static and fluctuating environments, and examine how unicellular organisms modify their internal networks to facilitate such changes. This modeling approach has been used on today's supercomputers, but it requires a number of simplifications. The team anticipates that Blue Waters will allow some of these simplifications to be relaxed, so that more biological processes can be included.

Computational relativity and gravitation at petascale: Simulating and visualizing astrophysically realistic compact binaries
A team working on an astrophysics code for Blue Waters is led by the Rochester Institute of Technology's Manuela Campanelli. With it, they hope to explore pairs of very dense astrophysical objects, including the merger of asymmetric black hole binaries, of neutron star binaries, and the merger of a black hole and a neutron star. Through more accurate simulations, they will be able to characterize the events' gravity wave signatures, which will ultimately be detected by instruments like the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.

Computational chemistry at the petascale
This project will port two established chemistry codes—GAMESS and NWChem—to Blue Waters. Led by Iowa State University's Monica Lamm, the team hopes to use these codes to simulate the molecular dynamics of water, aerosols in the atmosphere, and dendrimer-ligand binding. These topics have applications in many areas of science and engineering. The GAMESS and NWChem are used by a large number of other research groups, which may make it possible for other teams to take advantage of Blue Waters and other extreme-scale computing systems.

Lattice QCD on Blue Waters
Lattice quantum chromodynamics (QCD) is a method for studying quarks and gluons, subatomic particles that comprise some of the basic building blocks of our universe. In lattice QCD theory, physicists envision space-time as a crystalline lattice where quarks can be found only on vertices and gluons can travel only along lines connecting quarks. By simulating the evolution of the lattice system as the spacing between vertices changes, physicists gain understanding of the behavior and interaction of these tiny, mysterious particles.

The code being developed for Blue Waters by a team led by the University of California, Santa Barbara's Robert Sugar will be used to determine fundamental parameters of the Standard Model of nuclear physics and will help to determine its range of validity. They will also be used to calculate the masses, internal structure and interactions of strongly interacting particles, including the masses of the up and down quarks and the values of the weak transition couplings between quarks. The combination of calculations such as these and experiments in facilities such as the Large Hadron Collider and Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider offer a way of probing for new physics in the behavior of sub-atomic particles.

National Science Foundation

Blue Waters is supported by the National Science Foundation through awards ACI-0725070 and ACI-1238993.