ANU Supercomputer Facility - Annual Report 1997

Education and User Training


Computational Science and Engineering Education Program

The Supercomputer Facility and the Department of Computer Science, FEIT, began an educational program in computational science and engineering in 1996 and this has continued during 1997. Drs Gardner and Rendell have been actively developing new undergraduate courses within the engineering and computer science degree programs of FEIT and have also contributed lectures in computational physics in the Department of Physics and Theoretical Physics. Dr Singleton prepared and presented a course in the Department of Mathematics during 1997 as well as several training seminars for staff and postgraduate students.

A first semester, 4th year course "Computational Engineering" attracted 36 students from the Department of Engineering. This was followed by a new C-level second semester course "Computational Science and Engineering" which attracted 35 students with Computer Science, Engineering as well as Science majors. The new second semester, C-level, mathematics unit "Computational Methods for Gas Dynamics" attracted 9 students.

An exciting event of the year was the achievement of an international award for Undergraduate Computational Science and Engineering education. The award was made by the Krell Institute, a non-profit organisation devoted to improving computational science education throughout the world, and recognised the innovative "Puppy" case study used in the Computational Engineering course. Dr Gardner accepted the award at the SC97 conference in San Jose, USA, in November.

Several other courses made use of the "HPC Laboratory" - a teaching laboratory run by ANUSF especially for its education programs. An Honours level, full year, course in Computer Graphics, was given by Brian Corrie of the Department of Computer Science which included a lecture/laboratory segment given by Dr Gardner. A second semester Honours course in Mechanical Verification was given by Dr Jim Grundy of the Department of Computer Science. Dr Harold Schranz of the Research School of Chemistry ran a two week course in Computational Mathematics for Chemists in June 1997. Dr Raju Karia ran a two day workshop on the Java language on behalf of the Advanced Computational Systems (ACSys) CRC on July 7 and 8. Dr Singleton and other ANUSF staff presented 4 two-day training seminars on the Fortran 90 programming language and on the optimisation of codes for the VPP300 and PC architectures.

Two 4th year engineering projects were supervised by Dr Gardner and made use of the HPC Laboratory facilities. This work is described in the theses "Acoustic Analysis of Guitars by Computer Simulation" by Matthew Parsons and "Computational Modelling of Impedance Matching Networks in RF Plasma Processing Systems" by Bonar Dickson. Two further 4th year engineering projects made use of the HPC Laboratory as did 12 postgraduate students from the Australian Centre for Arts and Technology.

During the September mid-semester teaching break, the HPC Laboratory was used by the ACSys CRC for a large scale experiment in scalable text retrieval. It was demonstrated that David Hawking's PADRE search engine software maintained constant query processing time despite increasing dataset size, provided that the number of workstations was increased in proportion to the data size. Using all ten workstations, queries were processed over a collection of 102 Gigabytes which is larger than any experiment previously reported in the literature. Results were reported at the European Conference on Digital Libraries held in Pisa in September 1997.

Seminars and User Training and Information

Dr Ran and Ms Allsman gave a course on Efficient Use of the Mass Data Store system to around 50 attendees on 12 November. Ms Allsman gave a course on Source Code Configuration Management on 16 October attended by 15 staff.

Dr Singleton and Ms Jenkinson gave Fortran 90 course (23-24 June) attended by 11 staff and students and, assisted by Dr Kahn, repeated a VPP Vectorization and Tuning course three times (1, 5 and 7 May) for 38 attendees from ANU and other universities.

Ms Jenkinson and Dr Kahn gave an introduction to the HPC facilities available at ANU to the ADCOCOPOPS study group of computational postgraduate students on 10 March.

Mr Ramsden gave an introductory seminar on the AVS tools for scientific visualisation on December 4 which was attended by 70 staff and students. As with most ANUSF courses, notes can be found on our WWW page via

Mr Whitehouse gave a paper entitled 3D Reconstruction from Serial Sections at the annual Microscopy Workshop held by the ANU Electron Microscopy Unit on 11 March.

In conjunction with the Centre for Mathematical Applications, SMS, CSL, RSISE and ANZIAM, a one-day seminar on Eigenvalues and Bifurcation was held on 10 December.

The Supercomputer Facility is also a joint sponsor with ACSys, CMA, SMS and CSL, RSISE of the weekly Advanced Computation seminars series.

A newsletter, `SuperFAQS' was published in April, June and August. This newsletter was designed to keep users of the VPP300, Power Challenge and massive data storage system informed of changes to software or management of the systems, give details of forthcoming courses and provide information on efficient use of the ANUSF computing resources. The newsletter was circulated in hard copy and a version was made available on the Web to give easy access to further relevant information.

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