Now I get it. It’s about thinking differently to tackle big problems like cancer, climate change, floods, droughts, hunger, pandemics. Last week’s Austin Forum showcased the Texas Advanced Computing Center and the University of Texas System’s mind-boggling infrastructure. But it wasn’t until a week later, when I listened to Open Stack’s Jonathan Bryce talk about the cloud that it all fell into place.
Armed with horsepower provided by TACC and UT, M.D. Anderson researchers can see results in one-third to one-half the time of earlier efforts. Visualization overcomes the communication tangles that get in the way of so much sharing. Results can be studied and compared in real time (a picture’s worth …).
Think about it. TACC, with its 10-petaflop supercomputer and super-charged network, can help researchers solve problems in days or even hours that used to take weeks or months. Armed with faster answers, the researchers ask more questions. They collaborate more. They ask different questions and expand the circle of collaboration. More minds, more perspectives, more questions. Perhaps the initial problem morphs into several smaller ones. Perhaps one or more of these is easier to solve.
A high point: A self-described hacker asked if he could pitch in. TACC Director Jay Boisseau responded that yes, there would be collaborative opportunities, individual as well as the collective ones provided by a research park. That’s encouraging news in a world that needs some brain power focused on things that matter. Perhaps future sessions will touch on the process of developing a smart set metrics to guide all of this collaboration.
In the meantime, let’s work on that fiscal cliff.