Events People - Written by on July 5, 2016

Big Success at OLCF’s Largest User Meeting

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Attendees of the annual OLCF User Meeting, held May 24–26 at ORNL, pose in front of the ORNL Visitor Center. One hundred thirty-three people attended, making it the largest user meeting to date.

Attendees of the annual OLCF User Meeting, held May 24–26 at ORNL, pose in front of the ORNL Visitor Center. One hundred thirty-three people attended, making it the largest user meeting to date.

Talks, posters, roundtables, and elections highlight 3-day event

One hundred thirty-three people attended the 2016 Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) User Meeting, making it the largest user meeting to date.

Users and administrators from the OLCF, a US Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, participated in the 3-day event May 24–26 to learn about, share, and discuss the most recent science conducted on the OLCF’s Titan supercomputer.

“Most of our users only have access to our facility remotely, so this meeting gives us an opportunity to meet in person and build relationships with our user community,” said Ashley Barker, group leader for the OLCF’s User Assistance and Outreach Group. “We built in several opportunities on the agenda for the OLCF staff to interact with users on a more individual basis to see how things are going and what they may need from us.”

The first 2 days of the meeting focused on finer points of high-performance computing (HPC) at the OLCF through user, facility, and how-to talks that covered a wide breadth of topics. Users presented their research results, while staff informed users about current and future facility developments.

On the first day, Paul Messina, project director for the Exascale Computing Project (ECP) and senior strategic advisor at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, gave the keynote talk, “The Path to Capable Exascale Computing,” in which he provided an update on the ECP. Jacqueline Chen, distinguished member of technical staff at the Combustion Research Facility at Sandia National Laboratories, gave the closing keynote address, “Towards Exascale Simulation of Combustion Science and Technology.” Other notable user talks came from the University of Utah’s Martin Berzins, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Rajan Gupta, and  research scientist Yi Wang.

“From setting up accounts, to access, to reliable output, Titan and the OLCF staff delivered,” Gupta said. “Our job was reduced to thinking, improving algorithms, keeping up with the output, and overachieving. At the 2016 user meeting, I became keenly aware of the commitment, knowledge, and zeal of the staff and gained a deep appreciation for their dedicated efforts to provide a smoothly functioning system that I take for granted as a remote user.”

“This conference has provided a great opportunity for computational fluid dynamics modelers to meet many HPC experts at the OLCF and scientists from different fields,” Wang said.

Sessions on the third day were dedicated to the future of HPC with talks and a panel focused on task-based programming. Four experts, including Berzins, gave presentations on different programming models such as Legion, Uintah, MADNESS, and ParSEC.

“The OLCF User Meeting serves many purposes. It’s an opportunity for our users to share their knowledge and experiences both with the OLCF staff as well as other users, for the OLCF to update the user community on changes and improvements in the facility, and for us all to discuss the future of HPC and how applications will adopt coming technological innovations,” said Judy Hill, computational scientist at the OLCF and organizer of the task-based programming event.

Suzanne Parete-Koon, OLCF User Assistance specialist, organized the poster session, which had good representation from both users and staff with 29 diverse posters on display. Junior researcher Singanallur Venkatakrishnan of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and senior researcher Ronald Grover of General Motors won awards for their posters.

This year the OLCF improved the roundtable lunch discussions by pairing the event with a preroundtable “slam,” during which each of the OLCF staff members facilitating conversations was given a chance to briefly introduce the topic that his or her individual table would discuss. The attendees then chose which table to sit at for their working lunch. The various topics were selected based on user input during registration.

The meeting also coincided with the election of three new OLCF User Group (OUG) Executive Board members. Balint Joo of Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, Joseph Oefelein of the Combustion Research Facility at Sandia National Laboratories, and Yifeng Cui of the San Diego Supercomputer Center were elected to 3-year terms based on votes cast by 87 users. The OUG Executive Board, this year led by its new chairperson, Katrin Heitmann, serves as an advocate for OLCF users, channeling user feedback to the center.

Three of the board’s executive members—Mike Zingale, Hai Ah Nam, and David Dixon—participated in the steering committee that helped organize the meeting. They took part in procuring speakers and setting the agenda by giving the OLCF a good view of what users would want out of their meeting. Zingale and Nam also facilitated discussions and panels at the event.

The OLCF provided tours of lab—the center’s scientific analysis and visualization laboratory—and the facility, including the space that the OLCF’s next-generation supercomputer, Summit, will occupy. About 50 users participated in these tours.

As a companion to the user meeting, the OLCF held a day of tutorials with two tracks. One track covered data analytics and visualization tools, while the other focused on programming environments and OLCF tools.

Users who could not attend the meeting had access to the tutorials and talks via live Blue Jeans webcasts. Abstracts, presentation material, and recordings from the event are available on the 2016 OLCF User Meeting web page. – Miki Nolin

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is supported by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit