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NCSA Director featured twice in the Department of Energy’s top 40 scientific milestones of the past

Two different papers that were coauthored by Dr. William “Bill” Gropp, the Director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in the Department of Computer Science at Illinois, have been named in a select group of papers that have “changed the face of science” over the past 40 years. The list, which was put together by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, celebrates the DOE’s 40th anniversary and features 40 impactful papers from the past 40 years of the DOE to do so.

“A high-performance, portable implementation of the MPI Message Passing Interface” by W. Gropp, E. Lusk, and A. Skjellum, was published in 1996 and outlined MPICH, the first full implementation of the Message Passing Interface (MPI) standard. Using this, programmers are able to develop software that can run on parallel systems of all sizes, from multicore nodes to clusters to the most powerful supercomputers. This flexibility, in turn, assured MPICH’s ability to run on HPC systems both in the present and far into the future. MPICH’s relevance still exists over two decades later, where it has become the most widely used implementation of MPI in the world.

The landmark paper appeared in: Parallel Computing 22, 789-828 (1996).

“Efficient management of parallelism in object-oriented numerical software libraries” by S. Balay, W. D. Gropp, L. C. McInnes, and B. F. Smith, was published in 1997 and described techniques implemented in the Portable, Extendable Toolkit for Scientific Computation (PETSc) 2.0 package. This was used to simplify the process of programming networks for parallel processing while maintaining high efficiency and portability. Perhaps one on the most impactful software advancements in the history of scientific computing, PETSc has been used in thousands of models, helping to depict everything from airflow to water movement.

The paper appeared in: Modern Software Tools in Scientific Computing, edited by E. Arge, A. M. Bruaset, and H. P. Langtangen, pp. 163-202 (1997).

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