Council on Academic Computing

November 15, 2004

Meeting Summary


Grid computing began as a mechanism to link supercomputers, enabling them to share unused resources.Hassan Karimi and Ralph Roskies discussed PittGrid, a new initiative that is designed to link the Universityís computing resources.The Universityís computing processors and storage are underutilized because they are disconnected.They are available only to individuals who are located where the resources reside.Professors Karimi and Roskies envision a system, PittGrid, in which these resources would be pooled across the University community.

PittGrid would include an infrastructure and a set of tools that permit researchers across the campus to collaborate on research activities and to share computing resources.Computer users could harness all available computing resources to enhance the processing and storage capacity that they normally possess.Current partners include the School of Information Sciences, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, Computer Services and Systems Development, the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, and the Departments of Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Physics.Professors Karimiís and Roskiesí powerpoint presentation describes the project in greater detail.


Taieb Znati, a member of the Council, worked at the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the past several years.Professor Znati discussed the NSFís Blue-Ribbon Advisory Panel on Cyberinfrastructure.The panel recommended that the NSF create a large-scale, interagency program that supports the broad development and application of cyberinfrastructure.The program would integrate resources from industry, government, academia, and international sources.The panel estimated the annual financial costs of such a program to be $1 billion.The panelís report is located at: Report of the National Science Foundation Blue-Ribbon Advisory Panel on Cyberinfrastructure.


Jinx Walton, Director of Computing Services and Systems Development (CSSD), discussed computer security.The Universityís virus filtering system is automatically activated.It removes approximately 400,000 viruses per month.The spam filtering system is user activated and is used by 10 percent of the University population.The latter system catches approximately 1.5 million messages per month.Spyware also has been a problem.CSSD recommends that computer users install either Adaware or Spybot Search and Destroy to protect their computers.

Other issues were also addressed:†††††

  • CSSD is working with academic departments to install firewalls.Approximately 235 firewalls have been installed.
  • The network operations center forms the backbone for computer security at the University.The Council will hold next monthís meeting at the center.


Other issues were also addressed:

  • Multi-disciplinary research that is conducted at the Santa Fe Institute.
  • Undergraduate studentsíparticipation in the stateís PACSCI program.
  • Future speakers for the Councilís speakers program.
  • A second program on modeling and simulation.