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NCSA launches Center for Artificial Intelligence Innovation

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is excited to announce the creation of the Center for Artificial Intelligence Innovation (CAII), which seeks to continue the groundbreaking work already being done in the domains of Deep Learning, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence.

“We are truly excited to announce the formation of this Center, which brings together a number of efforts that have been underway for some time along with new areas of focus to propel AI research and application forward,” said NCSA’s Director, Bill Gropp.

By leveraging the expertise and resources that exist at NCSA and Illinois, the CAII seeks to become a hub for innovation on campus, regionally, nationally and internationally. The CAII at Illinois will complement existing initiatives across campus by operating as a central nexus for AI research with applications in both academia and industry.

Whether it be in astrophysics, automotive, agriculture, infrastructure, big data or a variety of other fields, NCSA has made a concerted commitment to artificial intelligence, and the CAII will only help to both further and formalize that commitment while simultaneously building the foundations for the next generation of innovators.

“NCSA has a vibrant research program that has been pushing the frontiers of artificial intelligence across many disciplines for a number of years,” said Eliu Huerta, Director of the CAII. “The innovative nature of this program has enabled us to create research networks with national labs and universities across the US and Europe.”

Mobilizing faculty expertise in AI, collaborating to train a new generation of AI leaders, and innovating novel implementations to address ambitious challenges in both academia and industry all work together to support the pillars of the CAII: Research, Scholarship and Industry. The CAII will position both NCSA and Illinois on the forefront of artificial intelligence and its sub-disciplines.

“In order to be a success, CAII must leverage the most up-to-date hardware and software for deep learning,” said CAII Co-PI Volodymyr Kindratenko. “Our Center staff are working closely with IBM and NVIDIA to provide these critical state-of-the-art computational resources to support the Center’s research.“

At present, the Center operates an IBM POWER9 cluster with NVIDIA V100 GPUs funded under the National Science Foundation (NSF) Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program. Through this project, the Center staff collaborate to develop cutting-edge software and hardware solutions for AI. Simultaneously, students working at CAII will be trained to utilize these advanced resources as well, creating novel educational and research opportunities.

The Center will work closely with NCSA’s flagship Students Pushing Innovation (SPIN) and summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) student engagement programs to enable talented and motivated students from Illinois and across the country in AI research. “We have been training students to apply AI tools and techniques to solve real-world problems through our weekly Deep Learning training workshops and hackathons, and we expect to build up a strong community of very capable student talent to work with the Center,” continued Kindratenko.

“Every one of NCSA’s industrial partners or prospective partners now comes to us asking about what AI can do for them,” said CAII Industry Director Brendan McGinty. “The data deluge has forced companies to incorporate data into their strategy. Illinois is perfectly positioned to leverage expertise and compute resources to answer their challenges.”

For more information about the Center for Artificial Intelligence Innovation, visit the new website here, and hear from NVIDIA’s Tom Gibbs here:

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