Saturday, October 17, 2009

Goings on at school

I have blogged enough about gaming for now so I will telll you what has been going on at school laterly.

I got the grade on my midterm back in Algorithms. I got 96 out of 100 (the highest grade in the class).

Also I am taking the mandatory CS 591-PHD orientation course, where each week they have a different guest speaker. We have had some cool lectures with some very distinguished lecturers, includnig Dan Reed who told us about high performance computing research going on at Microsoft, and Bill Gropp who told us about the new "Blue Waters" project at UIUC. Blue Waters is slated to be the most powerful supercomputer in the world, with the computing power of over 1 million laptops, and is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2011.

One interesting fact: part of the reason they are building Blue Waters at UIUC is because of the cold climate in Illinois. Supercomputers generate large quantities of heat and thus need to be cooled to avoid overheating and burning out, and that costs a lot of energy. Dan Reed also talked about this problem in regards to large corporate data centers. In fact, he told us, some corporations are discovering that in some cases it is actually cheaper to not even bother with extra cooling and simply replace computers as they fail rather than spend lots of electricity cooling them all. (That solution would not work for Blue Waters because unlike data centers that have lots of separate, redundant computers, Blue Waters is all connected and one part failing could ruin any computation that is in progress.)

On the other hand, this is probably not a good cooling solution for any large-scale computing application.


Dan Mont said...

It all sounds great, Alex, and congrats on the test score,

By the way...we couldn't access your blog in China (we were in Beijing the past few days). It seems the Chinese government has blocked access to

I liked the fan story.

Nanette Goodman said...

Is CS 591-PHD helping you figure out what area you want to pursue?

I am amazed that Wikipedia has info on the two professors and the blue waters project. It's got everything :-)

Talkative in Toronto said...


(I guess we need to change our identity - maybe "Chatty in Calgary"). If they want to keep the computers cool - establish a data center up here :-)

Dan Mont said...

Yo Alex, any more news? Mom and I just got back from Beijing. She wrote a lot about it on her blog.

I'm about to go on a mission for a week to a rural area up north.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? It might be possible to link up with Aunt Debbie and Uncle Sam but I'm not sure. I think Simon might be going to see Colin.