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ECE Faculty and Students Receive Accolades at International Conference on High Performance Computing

left: Michael Zink; right: David Irwin

Michael Zink and David Irwin

Several faculty and students from the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department were recognized for innovative research, creativity, and impact for the greater good at Supercomputing 2020 (SC20), the largest international conference for high-performance computing, held in November. The ECE faculty members being acknowledged were Professor Michael Zink and Associate Professor David Irwin, while ECE undergraduate Hakan Saplakoglu and doctoral students Pradeep Ambati and Noman Bashir were also singled out for various kinds of high praise. See UMass News Office article: Engineering and Computer Science Students and Faculty Earn Accolades at SC20, the International Conference for High Performance Computing.

Irwin co-authored a paper and presentation, titled “Waiting Game: Optimally Provisioning Fixed Resources for Cloud-Enabled Schedulers,” with Distinguished Professor and Associate Dean Prashant Shenoy from the College of Computer and Information Sciences and ECE doctoral students Ambati and Bashir. SC20 recognized their collaboration as the Best Paper and Best Student Paper Finalist.

As Irwin said about the research described in their paper, "Our work focuses on answering a central question for 'hybrid clouds' that combine servers that you buy yourself with servers that you rent from public cloud platforms offered by Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. It turns out that buying servers yourself is still significantly cheaper than renting them from the cloud if they are highly utilized.”

Irwin added that the winning paper answers important questions associated with the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) in Holyoke, a collaboration among various Massachusetts universities, industries, and the government of the Commonwealth.

“A key question for large server clusters like those at the MGHPCC,” explained Irwin, “is how many servers should they buy versus rent to minimize their cost? This paper develops some simple mathematical models that answer this question, and then evaluates them on traces from the UMass Green High Performance Computing Cluster at the MGHPCC. Our models and evaluation show that an optimized hybrid cloud approach can both save money and significantly increase these cluster’s performance."

Research by Zink on air traffic management was one of the featured projects at the MGHPCC virtual booth at SC20 this year.

As Zink explained his project, called “Flynet,” it will provide an architecture and tools that will enable scientists to include edge computing devices in their computational workflows.

“This capability,” said Zink, “is critical for low-latency and ultra-low-latency applications like drone video analytics and route planning for drones. Our focus on efficient scheduling, in-network programming, and compute cloud resource management allows us to demonstrate mission-focused tasks for the rapidly developing unmanned aviation industry, with approaches generalizable to other fields of research.”
In an additional feature of MGHPCC’s virtual booth, ECE undergraduate Saplakoglu collaborated with Rebecca Doiron, an undergraduate in physics, to build a Minecraft world virtual scenario, via this popular adventure video game, to highlight computing-intensive research from UMass Amherst. SC20 visitors used this Minecraft world setup for the virtual exploration of computational research from New England institutions powered by resources available at the MGHPCC. The Minecraft world display included interactive activities and a virtual tour of the MGHPCC data center, universities in the MGHPCC consortium, as well as kiosks focusing on research projects from the different campuses.

The MGHPCC was developed through a collaboration among: the most research-intensive universities in Massachusetts (UMass Amherst, Boston University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Northeastern University); the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and private industry (Cisco and Dell EMC). The member universities continue to fund the ongoing operation of the data center, which is open for use by any research organization. (January 2021)