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NCSA and UChicago Receive NSF Funding For Software Sustainability


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The National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign were awarded a $240,000 grant by the National Science Foundation to help find sustainable practices to support Parsl, an open source software package that helps democratize access to NSF’s increasingly broad and powerful cyberinfrastructure resources.

Alongside the University of Chicago, also awarded grant funding which, with the NCSA award totals $1M for this project, NCSA will help transition Parsl to a community-governed and community-supported open source project.

We’ve been working on building this software to meet community needs for many years, and we’re excited to have this opportunity to be supported in transitioning the project and its governance to a more community-oriented approach. NCSA has strong open-source and software sustainability knowledge that we will apply.

Daniel S. Katz, NCSA Chief Scientist

Transitioning to sustainability is one of the key goals of NSF’s Cyberinfrastructure for Sustained Scientific Innovation (CSSI) program and, for the first time, a specific type of CSSI award. These awards target groups that would like to execute a well-defined sustainability plan for existing cyberinfrastructure with demonstrated impact in one or more areas of science and engineering supported by NSF, which is exactly the situation for the Parsl team.

The goal of this venture is to deliver a sustainable Parsl community by reducing costs and barriers to contribution and future maintenance costs, building the community via outreach, engagement and education programs, and growing the next generation of the community through new pathways and incentives.

Parsl enables scientists and engineers to parallelize Python programs and run them scalably and efficiently on small to very large local and remote resources (e.g., laptops, clusters, clouds, and supercomputers) while also moving data as needed. It allows researchers to work in the familiar and productive Python programming language and environment while also allowing them to easily scale and distribute their work to fully use today’s cutting-edge cyberinfrastructure. Parsl is a key tool used by researchers to tackle some of the world’s most significant challenges: from understanding the beginning of the universe to exploring an enormous molecular search space to identify viable therapeutics.

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