January 9, 2013

UW, Pacific NW National Lab join forces on computing research

News and Information

The University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have announced the creation of the Northwest Institute for Advanced Computing, a joint institute based at the UW that will foster collaborative computing research between the two institutions.

Co-directors Vikram Jandhyala and Moe Khaleel

Co-directors Vikram Jandhyala and Moe Khaleel

“This collaboration will open up new avenues for research,” said co-director Vikram Jandhyala, UW professor and chair of electrical engineering, who leads the Applied Computational Engineering Lab. “We are creating an interdisciplinary place to work with colleagues at PNNL on data-intensive science and engineering.”

Co-director with Jandhyala is Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Moe Khaleel, leader of the Computational Science and Mathematics research division. The lab will fund the time for Jandhyala and Khaleel to lead the institute.

“The expanded partnership between UW and PNNL will create tremendous new opportunities for both organizations,” said Ed Lazowska, professor of computer science and engineering. “Big data is transforming the process of discovery in all fields. UW and PNNL have significant and complementary strengths.”

Lazowska leads the eScience Institute, created in 2008 to support data-driven discovery at the UW. Many of the roughly dozen UW faculty who will be involved with the new group at its launch are eScience Institute affiliates.

The new institute will initially draw from the UW’s departments of Computer Science & Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Applied Math, but all UW faculty whose work advances data-driven discovery and large-scale computing will be invited to affiliate.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory already has two scientists based at the UW who are conducting Department of Energy research related to big data and nuclear physics. About eight more PNNL researchers are expected to join them in UW’s Sieg Hall by the end of 2013.

Other researchers will join the center but stay in their existing labs.

All institute members will have access to computational resources at both institutions including the UW’s Hyak supercomputer, developed by the eScience Institute and UW-IT, and the Olympus supercomputer as well as other elements of PNNL Institutional Computing. Researchers will also make extensive use of cloud resources.

Jandhyala also hopes to develop relationships with the region’s business and startup communities.

“In the short term, we aim to promote collaboration among university and government scientists who are working with big data,” he said. “In the longer term, we hope this becomes a Northwest hub for advanced computing research.”

Initial projects will include algorithms and software for large graph analyses, smart grid simulation and encryption for cloud computing. The institute will draw on UW expertise in computer science, engineering, applied math and natural sciences, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory expertise in designing high-performance computers and running large-scale environmental simulations.

The two institutions already collaborate on the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, which is based at the national lab and includes installations in UW buildings and residence halls.

“Together we’ll be able to do amazing things,” Lazowska said.


Adapted from the PNNL press release posted at http://www.pnnl.gov/news/release.aspx?id=964.

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