International meeting of supercomputing scientists in Fairbanks

2011 Cray User Group Flyer


Fairbanks, Alaska—More than 100 scientists, technical experts and users of high-performance computing (HPC) resources will gather in Fairbanks May 23 – 26 for the 53rd meeting of the Cray User Group. The CUG 2011 conference will bring together owners and operators of Cray supercomputers to discuss how to improve the performance of supercomputing machines and HPC applications to advance scientific discovery and economic success.

Keynote speaker at CUG 2011 is David Newman, professor of physics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Newman is also the director of the Center for Complex Systems Studies at UAF where the focus of his physics research includes a fundamental understanding of turbulence and turbulent transport. According to Newman, the issues involved in this have underpinned a number of “Grand Challenge” scale problems from climate to plasmas. Newman’s work at ARSC includes modeling the dynamics of complex systems such as the power transmission grid and communications.

Before coming to UAF, Newman was selected as a Wigner Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he was a research scientist from 1993-1998. In 1997, he was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

UAF associate professor of mathematics Ed Bueler is scheduled to talk with conference participants about the need for physics-based models that connect warming in the Polar Regions to the behavior of ice sheets, especially their contribution to sea levels worldwide. According to Bueler, models that connect hard-to-observe local processes to global flow consequences are not as mature as for other climate components.

Bueler will discuss the UAF-developed Parallel Ice Sheet Model (PISM) that is already being recognized internationally for its value in helping to better predict the rate at which ice covering Greenland (and Antarctica) is changing, and its effects on sea levels globally.

Also expected to address the conference, which takes place at the Westmark Hotel, are Cray Inc. President and CEO Peter Ungaro, and current Cray User Group board president Nicholas P. Cardo with the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

“CUG 2011 will be a rewarding, educational and memorable experience for all attendees and their families, many of which will be visiting Alaska for the first time,” said Liam Forbes, ARSC HPC systems analyst and current CUG board secretary. Forbes received his bachelor's degree in computer science from UAF in 1995, the same year a paper he co-authored earned the highest ranking in the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics International Mathematical Contest in Modeling. He began working at ARSC in 1995 and in 1998, received his master's degree in computer science from UAF.

“The CUG 2011 program committee has assembled a diverse and impressive array of detail-packed presentations as parallel technical sessions, tutorials, and Special Interest Group (SIG) meetings,” said Forbes.

The technical program includes many talks encompassing all aspects of Cray HPC systems, from management to taking full advantage of the newest Cray XE-6 architecture. A number of talks will highlight the improvements and benefits of the XE-6 to the scientific community, including a presentation by ARSC on recent successes in pushing the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model to more than one billion grid points. ARSC recently tested the model on a real-world weather scenario over the North Pacific and Arctic, providing 1-kilometer horizontal resolution over the entire region.

ARSC previously hosted the CUG conference in 1995. Since ARSC’s first compute cycles were realized in 1993, the staff at ARSC have established a reputation for outstanding service in all aspects of high-performance computing, massive data storage and network support. During that time, ARSC has also been actively engaged with University of Alaska research, leveraging the support of the U.S. Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program to serve multiple communities, and provide bridges between them.

ARSC is currently transitioning from a DoD Supercomputing Resource Center to supercomputing unit at UAF designed specifically to meet academic and research needs of university staff, faculty and students. UAF has created continuing staff positions, which augment positions funded through external grants and contracts, to sustain ARSC’s service to the university and broader constituencies.

CONTACT: Barbara Horner-Miller, ARSC associate director and CUG 2011 local arrangements chair (907) 450-8629 or or Liam Forbes, ARSC HPC systems analyst and CUG board secretary (907) 450-8618 or

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