SIAM News Blog

New Initiative Focuses on Computational Science and Advanced Computing

By Miriam Quintal

With the launch of the federal National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), the Obama Administration and federal agencies have thrust computational science and advanced computing into the spotlight. The initiative, which should be of interest to the SIAM community, aims to create a cohesive, strategic vision in High Performance Computing (HPC) for the United States.  As agencies seek to implement this vision, applied math and computational science will play a key role in ensuring that the U.S. realizes the full benefit of HPC systems. Three primary agencies are engaged in the initiative: the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Defense (DOD).

 The NSCI aims to combine the strengths of computers focused on simulation/modeling and computers focused on managing large amounts of data. The goal is to create new platforms, keep the U.S. at the forefront of HPC capabilities by achieving exascale computing, create systems that are easier to program to encourage widespread use, make HPC readily available through deployment and education, and conduct fundamental research to establish hardware technology for future HPC systems. For example, the NSF is planning investments in software, technology, and people. These investments primarily focus on increasing synergies between modeling/simulation and data analytic computing, increasing the capacity and capability of a national HPC ecosystem, and researching a viable path forward for future HPC systems post Moore’s law. The DOE will continue its pursuit of an exascale system with accompanying applied math investments. The DOD will focus on data analytic computing related to its mission. As these agencies develop their implementation plans, new opportunities are likely to emerge for the SIAM community.

Given the growing nature of this initiative and the importance of modeling and other mathematical challenges to its success, the SIAM community is encouraged to participate in workshops, symposia, conferences, and Proposers Days to shape and compete for new opportunities arising from the NSF, the DOE, and the DOD. For instance, the White House held a workshop in October to discuss key challenges and opportunities related to the initiative, foster collaboration, and communicate long-term plans for the NSCI. Multiple participants at the workshop emphasized the need for research on algorithms, cited applied mathematics challenges, or noted the importance of computational science. The White House is currently planning follow-on workshops on particular challenge areas. Now is a great time to engage, bringing the expertise of the mathematics community to ensure that the U.S. will continue its leadership in HPC. 

Miriam Quintal is SIAM’s Washington liaison at Lewis-Burke Associates LLC.

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