People - Written by on June 29, 2011

Crash Course at OLCF Trains Next Generation of Supercomputing Researchers

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Staffers and interns learn to program, compile, and run code in a Unix environment

The OLCF's Arnold Tharrington mentors students at the recent course introducing the basics of supercomputing.

The Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) recently held a “Crash Course in Supercomputing” for approximately 60 summer interns to provide an overview of concepts and techniques in high-performance computing.

The workshop, held on June 16, was divided into two sections. The first section discussed the Unix operating system system on which OLCF resources run, while the second section covered concepts in parallel programming. Students used laptops at the workshop to practice programming methods.

“This workshop is organized so that students can get hands-on practice with programming despite limited experience,” said workshop presenter Rebecca Hartman-Baker, a computational scientist at OLCF. “In addition to applied practice with programming, we help students build knowledge about high-performance computing by combining relevant events in computer science history with conceptual explanations and practical computing tips.”

Computational scientist Arnold Tharrington also presented topics at the workshop.

Section one of the course also included discussions on the vi editor (a screen-based text editing program used by many Unix users), compiling and making files, and the commonly used C programming language. After introducing parallel programming, section two familiarized students with the message passing interface (MPI), batch scripts, OpenMP, and debugging. Participants were required to have previous access to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory campus to attend the workshop, but a webcast allowed about a dozen students without access to campus to participate in the workshop. This year’s “Crash Course in Supercomputing” is the fourth hosted by OLCF. — by Caitlin Rockett