SC is the best place to keep up with the state of the art in HPC and to network with colleagues.
Ned Bass
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Looking Ahead to SC18

Friday, October 26, 2018

See the SC18 list of LLNL participants and the SC18 Event Calendar for a day-by-day schedule of LLNL’s sessions and Job Fair presence, as well as a list of our SC committee members. During the conference, follow Computation on Twitter and other social media with these hashtags: #LLNLatSC #SC18 #hpcinspires.

The 30th annual Supercomputing Conference (SC18) will begin on November 11 in Dallas, Texas. Dozens of attendees from LLNL’s Computation Directorate will join industry leaders, application developers, program managers, journalists, and congressional staffers for the six-day conference focused on high performance computing (HPC).

SC18’s theme is HPC Inspires. This year, LLNL staff are leading or organizing more than 40 sessions. Computer scientist Olga Pearce is returning to her tenth SC conference, in part because of its impact on her daily work at the Center for Applied Scientific Computing. She explains, “The collaborations I start and maintain through annual SC attendance facilitate my active role in fast-paced, exciting HPC research.”

Ned Bass, Livermore Computing’s (LC’s) Software Development Group leader, has attended the conference more times than he can remember. “SC is the best place to keep up with the state of the art in HPC and to network with colleagues. This year I’m planning to spend time learning about the latest advances in high-speed interconnects,” he says.

Student-Focused Sessions

Pearce serves as vice-chair for the conference’s Students[at]SC program. She has curated a two-day program for student attendees that includes technical HPC content, networking opportunities, career advice and feedback, and more.

“Nearly 300 students are coming to SC this year,” states Pearce. “I am leveraging over 40 HPC professionals from academia, industry, and national labs who have enthusiastically embraced my requests to contribute to the Students[at]SC program.” Computation’s associate director Bruce Hendrickson will be giving the program’s kickoff keynote presentation.

Other student-oriented events include a research showcase, mentoring program, and job fair. LLNL staff are co-authors on 8 papers entered in the student research competition. Bass looks forward to the student cluster competition every year. “It’s really fun to see the teams’ creative approaches to the challenge of integrating a cluster in a very short timeframe. The competition also gives me an opportunity to talk to students about how great it is to work at the Lab,” he explains.

Deep Dives

LLNL is leading 6 tutorials and 16 workshops during SC18. Topics range from data analytics and data compression to performance analysis and productivity. The LLNL-developed open-source tools Spack and Flux are subjects of a tutorial and a workshop, respectively. A working group for energy-efficient HPC, co-organized by LLNL HPC engineer Anna Maria Bailey, will host its ninth annual SC workshop. 

Computer scientist Elsa Gonsiorowski is co-organizing the Fifth International Workshop on HPC User Support Tools, nicknamed HUST-18. The recurring workshop brings together system administrators, end users, developers, user support teams, and policymakers to discuss best practices in user support.

“As a member of LC’s Development Environment Group, user support tools are very important to me. I hope this workshop will help me improve my own knowledge of the community and build connections within it,” Gonsiorowski states.

Diversity and Inclusivity

Diversity is a key goal of the conference. Currently, women make up 33% of the conference committee, while international committee members account for almost 15%. SC leadership collects attendees’ demographic information to track toward a goal of 20% female participation by 2020.

Gonsiorowski is a first-time member of the SC Inclusivity Committee and co-chair of the Women in HPC (WHPC) workshop. “WHPC holds a special place in my heart,” she says. “It includes a session for early career women who may not otherwise have a reason to attend. In addition to topics on diversifying the HPC community, we will cover resiliency and stress management. As always with WHPC, I know that there will be plenty of good discussion and many opportunities for the audience to learn from each other.”

Advice for First-Timers

On two mornings during the week, Navigating SC sessions will give attendees an overview of the technical program along with advice for getting the most out of the conference. The scope of the program and all associated events can be overwhelming, so LLNL SC veterans offer these tips for a fulfilling experience:

  • Plan ahead. The SC website’s planning tool allows you to add individual sessions to your calendar.
  • Manage your options. Make a list of your “must see” versus “maybe” events, then choose what to attend based on how you feel as the week unfolds.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Stay hydrated.