Council on Academic Computing

June 18, 2008

Meeting Summary

Center for Simulation and Modeling

The Center for Simulation and Modeling will support computationally intensive research across the University. The Center will draw faculty and staff members from a wide range of disciplines, including astronomy, biology, chemistry, economics, engineering, and medicine.  It will provide access to hardware, such as computers at the Center for Molecular and Materials Simulations or on PittGrid; provide technical support, primarily in the area of parallel computing; sponsor and coordinate courses in advanced computing; and support a lecture series on topics related to advanced computing.  The Center for Simulation and Modeling will be formally established on October 24.  The event will include two workshops and a poster session.

Grid Computing

Grid computing began as a mechanism to link supercomputers, enabling them to share unused resources.  The concept has been extended to include resource sharing across any type of networked environment.  Currently, many of the University’s computing processors are only available to individuals who are located where the resources reside.  PittGrid organizes these resources and makes them available for research, simulations, and computationally demanding projects. The aggregate power of several hundred machines is channeled to provide high computational power for people who have computationally intensive jobs.  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.

Report from Computing Services and Systems Development

Jinx Walton, Director of Computing Services and Systems Development, discussed the effect of internet spam on the University.  University graduates are permitted to maintain an e-mail account for one year after graduation, but their e-mail does not pass through the University’s spam filter.  Many of the former students forward e-mail from their University account to another provider.  Spam that would have been caught by the University’s spam filter is then redirected to the provider.  As a result, the University has been flagged as a spam source several times.  CSSD is working to correct this problem.  They may resolve it by including the graduates’ accounts under those covered by the spam filter.

Ms. Walton also discussed several other topics:

  • A disaster recovery plan for the Network Operations Center
  • iTunes at the University