Big Data for Science

MSI hosted two courses for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers on the Twin Cities campus during Summer 2010 in association with the Virtual School of Computational Science and Engineering (VSCSE). The VSCSE is a national virtual organization whose goal is to develop and deliver a computational science curriculum that accelerates the ability of faculty, staff, and students to use emerging computational resources to advance science and engineering.

During the week of July 26, MSI hosted the VSCSE's Big Data for Science course. The course was kicked off with a keynote from Alex Szalay of Johns Hopkins University and featured speakers and instructors from IBM, Microsoft, Argonne National Lab, and universities across the U.S. Big Data for Science was developed to accelerate the ability of students to use emerging high-performance computational science tools and techniques and provided a hands-on programming experience with tools for managing enormous quantities of data as well as examples of their use in real-world environments. Topics covered include the role of the cloud in data-intensive computing, a FutureGrid tutorial, an introduction to MapReduce and Hadoop, and more. Two hundred students at ten sites participated.

The course was powered by an H.323 videoconferencing service supported locally by the Office of Information Technology (OIT). Students in Minnesota received a high-definition video feed of the presenter through one projector, a video feed of the presenter's slides on a second screen, and a third video feed that included the audiences from the remaining nine sites. All sites were linked with bidirectional audio enabling students in Minnesota to have face-to-face conversations with the course instructors as well as participants at other sites. Students at all sites were given accounts on the FutureGrid, an experimental computing grid and cloud test-bed, allowing participants to work through exercises interactively with the instructor.

MSI also hosted Petascale Programming Environments and Tools during July 6-9. An article about the summer's record participation appeared in an article on HPC Wire.