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  • IU's Thomas Sterling recognized as one of HPC community's "people to watch"

    Date: 02/07/2013

    February 1, 2013

    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Thomas Sterling, executive associate director of the Center for Research in Extreme Scale Technologies (CREST) and professor of computer science in the IU School of Informatics and Computing, has been named an HPCwire person to watch in 2013. The publication's annual list features 12 movers and shakers whose reach extends beyond high performance computing (HPC) to shape future directions of technology, propelling scientific and engineering advancements.

    "Thomas Sterling's transformative approach to large-scale, data-driven computing is truly visionary, and that is one of the reasons that Indiana University recruited Dr. Sterling in 2011," said Brad Wheeler, IU vice president for information technology and CIO. "His focus on game-changing computing architectures that are essential for exascale data and compute problems proffers great promise for the growing scale of modern science."

    Thomas Sterling

    Thomas Sterling

    Since receiving his PhD from MIT in 1984, Sterling has performed applied research in parallel computing system structures, semantics and operation -- and he has done so in industry, government labs and higher education. Sterling is best known as the "father of Beowulf" for his pioneering research that dramatically reduced the cost of supercomputers and made them far more available to many researchers.

    "Thomas Sterling is, without question, one of the most brilliant minds of his generation, arguably of this century," said Tom Tabor, CEO of Tabor Communications and founder of HPCwire. "His contributions, ranging from Beowulf to his current work leading the ParalleX project, speak volumes for the genius that resides within the man. With exascale critical to our scientific future, ParalleX and the role Thomas plays in leading the project becomes of paramount importance. His selection for the honor this year was unquestionable."

    In fall 2011, Sterling came to IU from Louisiana State University to join Andrew Lumsdaine in founding CREST. CREST is a research center affiliated with the Pervasive Technology Institute (funded by the Lilly Endowment), the School of Informatics and Office of the Vice President for IT at IU. He is currently engaged in research associated with the ParalleX advanced execution model for scalable programming and architectures. Ultimately, he and his research team are working to devise a proof-of-concept model of computation, establishing foundational principles that guide development of future generation exascale computing systems and applications.

    "This recognition of Professor Sterling is greatly deserved," said Bobby Schnabel, dean of IU's School of Informatics and Computing. "Thomas has a long and ongoing record of leading innovation in high performance computing and is sought after worldwide to share his vision and expertise."

    Sterling spent seven years in the US Navy before entering MIT, where he was a Hertz Fellow. Intrigued by early concepts of parallel computers, he earned his master's at the Electrical Power Systems Engineering Laboratory (EPSEL) after building one for his master's thesis. He has continued this hands-on work for the last 35 years, with a constant eye toward enhancing people's lives and improving their futures. Asked by HPCwire for his top five HPC initiatives or technologies to watch in 2013, Sterling listed:

    • System-scale parallel adaptive runtime software
    • Exascale computing concepts (execution model) and directions
    • Extreme scale dynamic graph analytics
    • 3D die stacking for integrated multi-core and memory chips
    • Parallel programming models and interfaces to expose billion-way

    This is the second time that an IU researcher has been named to HPCwire's "People to Watch" list. In 2010, computational scientist Geoffrey Fox received the honor. Fox currently serves as director of the Pervasive Technology Institute (PTI) Digital Science Center and associate dean for research and graduate studies in the School of Informatics and Computing.

    View the full HPCwire "People to Watch 2013" list and Sterling's award bio at: