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NCSA releases annual report highlighting scientific exploration and breakthroughs enabled by the Blu

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign released Tuesday the 2016 Blue Waters Project Annual Report, highlighting a year of scientific exploration and breakthroughs enabled by the project’s leadership class supercomputer and its associated support, training, and education efforts. For the project’s third annual report, research teams were invited to present highlights from their research that leveraged Blue Waters, the National Science Foundation’s most powerful system for computation and data analysis.

The report demonstrates how the Blue Waters Project is accelerating research and impact across a wide range of science and engineering disciplines. This year’s edition contains 30 percent more high-impact result summaries than the 2015 report, which itself showed more than a 40% increase over the 2014 report. Readers will go on a journey to explore how researchers, from the most senior experts to undergraduate students, are conducting groundbreaking investigations into topics such as exploding supernovae and a dwarf “dark galaxy”; understanding, at unprecedented levels, how sunlight is transformed into chemical energy; investigations for new insights into how influenza, ebola, and other virus strains infect people; how the entire polar regions are changing at resolutions and time-to-insight that is millions of times more than could be done just two years ago; how fluid flows in applications from steel casting to blood flowing in our bodies and what happens when particles and ice are mixed with the flow; how earthquakes, plate tectonics and supervolcanoes involve and influence people; and how computer solutions can assist political re-districting for better fairness and effectiveness.

“The NCSA Blue Waters Project brings previously impossible or intractable investigations and insights within the reach of researchers across the United States,” said Dr. William “Bill” Gropp, NCSA interim director and co-principal investigator for the Blue Waters Project. “This 2016 NCSA Blue Waters Annual Report demonstrates how the combination of massive computing power and the intellectual might of pioneering scientists and engineers creates opportunities for us to better understand and shape our world. My sincerest gratitude goes to the National Science Foundation, the University of Illinois, and the State of Illinois for financial investment in this critical project to understand and improve lives and develop the nation’s advanced digital workforce.”

Other sections of the report highlight the expanded novel Petascale Application Improvement Discovery (PAID) program and education and workforce development efforts. PAID is the program where the Blue Waters project is providing millions of dollars to science teams and computational and data experts to improve the performance of applications (in a measurable manner). This report documents how the project has enabled some teams to achieve orders of magnitude improvement in productivity and time-to-solution. Additionally, the project plays a role educating and developing the next generation extreme scale workforce through workshops, symposium, graduate fellowship, undergraduate internships, the original and evolving Virtual School for Computational Science and Engineering, funding for the HPC University and our training workshops and allocations.

“While we have now completed our third full-service operational year for this supercomputer and our services, it is very exciting to observe that more and more results are being delivered and the wonder we feel about the doors that are being opened to new discoveries,” said Dr. William “Bill” Kramer, Principal Investigator and Blue Waters Project Director. “I congratulate the research teams for pushing science forward in ways we only dreamed were possible.”

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