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Staying on top in supercomputing.

Staying on top in supercomputing

To stay ahead of the rest of the world in supercomputing capability, the United States should add to current levels of support at least $1.5 billion over the next five years, says a recent report summarizing the recommendations of a panel of experts familiar with high-performance computing. The panel proposes that the funds be used to "accelerate the creation of innovative hardware and software, effective mathematical techniques, and new university curricula that will attract and educate students in computational science and engineering.' The report, "A National Computing Initiative,' was sponsored by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), based in Philadelphia.

The SIAM report is the first major study since 1982 (SN: 5/14/83, p.309) to look at the state of supercomputing in the United States. Whereas the 1982 report focused on researchers' access to supercomputing facilities and eventually led to the establishment of five National Supercomputer Centers (SN: 3/2/85, p.135), the SIAM findings respond to several new issues. One concern is that the rapidly growing applications of supercomputing have already outpaced the power of currently available supercomputers. Another concern is that software development is seriously lagging behind other innovations. Obstacles such as the lack of strong, carefully designed courses in computational science and engineering also stand in the way of innovative supercomputing use.

Supercomputer users--economists, scientists and engineers --are "creating a demand for faster hardware, better architecture and more creative software,' says Harold J. Raveche of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., "and that's going to drive our industries.' Raveche chaired the SIAM workshop that led to the report. "There are a series of applications, which could have a profound effect on manufacturing and design, electronics, and so on,' he says, "that are now waiting for this computational power.'
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Publication:Science News
Date:Nov 21, 1987
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