Council on Academic Computing
February 15, 2005
Hassan Karimi, Ralph Roskies, and Taieb Znati discussed PittGrid,
an initiative that is designed to link and build upon the University’s
computing resources. PittGrid
will permit University researchers to collaborate on research activities and to
share computing resources. Computer
users will harness all available computing resources to enhance the processing
and storage capacity that they normally possess.
Professors Karimi and Roskies have developed an activity
plan for the project and are working with Computing Services and Systems
Development to implement it. Professor
Znati discussed National Science Foundation interest in grid computing;
state-level grid computing initiates in Alabama, Indiana, and Texas; and the potential for
state-level sponsorship of a grid-computing project in Pennsylvania.
Andrew Connolly, from the Physics and Astronomy
Department, discussed his High Performance Computing Initiative project. Professor Connolly used the funds for his
project to test how grid computing can be applied to his research. He studies how the physical properties of
galaxies change as a function of the universe’s age and how galaxies cluster in
the sky. Professor Connolly analyzes the
properties of galaxies by calculating the distributions of stars and comparing
these distributions to those that would occur randomly.
Large, multi-frequency imaging surveys, such as the Sloan
Digital Sky Survey (www.sdss.org), form the foundation
of Professor Connolly’s research. These
surveys permit astronomers to study hundreds of millions or stars and galaxies,
but this research is data intensive and presents many computational challenges. It can take hours, weeks, or even years to process
the data necessary to conduct his research.
The time commitment would be lessened considerably if multiple
processors could be harnessed via a grid.
Computing Services and Systems Development
Jinx Walton, Director of Computing
Services and Systems Development (CSSD), discussed general CSSD
- A new teleconferencing
service has been established. The
service uses on-demand conferencing technology, so conference calls can be
held without advance notice.
- The spam filter has been
available to the entire University community since last June. Approximately 12 percent of University
accounts have the spam filter installed.
- Symantec announced a vulnerability in their virus software. Additional information is available on
the University’s technology web page.
has established a residential computer consulting program for students
that live in the residence halls.
Other issues were also addressed:
- Future speakers for the
Council’s speakers program.
- A second program on modeling
- Funding for the Pennsylvania Cyber Security
Commercialization Initiative (PaCSCI).