Skip to main content

PRAC winners represent a range of disciplines

Petascale Computing Resource Allocations (PRAC awards) from theNational Science Foundation allow research teams to work closely with theBlue Waters project team in preparing their codes. The codes and projectsaddress key challenges faced by our society and explore fundamentalscientific and engineering problems.

These multiyear collaborations include help porting andre-engineering existing applications. In some cases, the teams will buildentirely new applications based on new programming models.

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

Testing hypotheses about climate prediction atunprecedented resolutions on the NSF Blue Waters system
A team from the University Corporation for AtmosphericResearch, Colorado State University, the University of Miami, and theInstitute for Global Environment and Society plan to test twohypotheses about the Earth’s climate system using Blue Waters. The firstis that the transport fluxes and other effects associated with cloudprocesses and ocean large-scale eddy mixing are significantly differentfrom the theoretically derived averages embodied in current-generationclimate models, and that these differences explain a large portion of theerrors in these models. The second is that a more faithful representationof these eddy-scale processes will increase the predictability of theclimates generated by climate models. The project team plans to performthree sets of numerical experiments using three cutting-edge climatemodels: the Community Climate System Model, a new version of the CommunityClimate System Model that includes an innovative treatment of cloudprocesses, and the Colorado State University Global Cloud-ResolvingModel.

Petascale simulations of complex biological behavior influctuating environments
Change an organism’s environment, and it adapts. That’s true ofcomplex creatures, and it’s true of unicellular organisms. A research teamled by the University of California at Davis’ Ilias Tagkopoulosplans to use Blue Waters to model multi-scale biological systems whereprocesses ranging from gene expression and intracellular biochemistry toecosystem dynamics are in play. The study will look at the influence ofnutrient concentrations and mutation on adaptation, compare differentstrategies for survival in static and fluctuating environments, andexamine how unicellular organisms modify their internal networks tofacilitate such changes. This modeling approach has been used on today’ssupercomputers, but it requires a number of simplifications. The teamanticipates that Blue Waters will allow some of these simplifications tobe relaxed, so that more biological processes can be included.

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

Computational chemistry at the petascale
This project will port two established chemistry codes—GAMESSand NWChem—to Blue Waters. Led by Iowa State University’s MonicaLamm, the team hopes to use these codes to simulate the moleculardynamics of water, aerosols in the atmosphere, and dendrimer-ligandbinding. These topics have applications in many areas of science andengineering. The GAMESS and NWChem are used by a large number of otherresearch groups, which may make it possible for other teams to takeadvantage of Blue Waters and other extreme-scale computing systems.

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

The code being developed for Blue Waters by a team led by theUniversity of California, Santa Barbara’s Robert Sugar will beused to determine fundamental parameters of the Standard Model of nuclearphysics and will help to determine its range of validity. They will alsobe used to calculate the masses, internal structure and interactions ofstrongly interacting particles, including the masses of the up and downquarks and the values of the weak transition couplings between quarks. Thecombination of calculations such as these and experiments in facilitiessuch as the Large Hadron Collider and Relativistic Heavy Ion Collideroffer a way of probing for new physics in the behavior of sub-atomicparticles.

Disclaimer: Due to changes in website systems, we've adjusted archived content to fit the present-day site and the articles will not appear in their original published format. Formatting, header information, photographs and other illustrations are not available in archived articles.

Back to top