26 January 2009

Jet Plane Off To Jamaica

Two weeks back Flip and I converged on Trapani's apartment in Jamaica, Queens.  The three of us were together in Simmons Hall at Penn State, near Plateia Varnava in Athens, near Beaver and Atherton back at Penn State, and finally in Austin, Texas.  Eight years.

Over the past year and a half both Flip and T left town for new opportunities.  It's been hard to not see them nearly every Wednesday night like I had for the three years we were all in Austin.  This trip we sat, talked, laughed, and did nothing of merit for three days.  It was wonderful.

20 January 2009

Austin Chapter of SIAM website redesign

I finally got around to redesigning U.T.'s SIAM chapter website. I've been meaning to do it for months. The suitable effective kick in the pants was needing a site to house information for our upcoming student conference.

All in all I'm happy with it. I used

My three major complaints with my own work are:
The back button is broken.
I spent two hours futzing with dojo.back to get the back button to work. After I had it working, hitting back and then forward caused an infinite loop on page refresh. I gave up for now.
None of the content can be indexed by a search engine (I think).
Since all of the major content is loaded via dijit.layout.ContentPane.setHref fired with onClick events, I doubt a search engine can effectively index much of it. Something to check when I roll Google Analytics into the next update.
I have raw email addresses in mailto links.
I'm not sure how much server-side processing is permitted on this particular host. I need to move contact functionality into forms guarded by CAPTCHAs. Hopefully GMail's filter will save me in the meantime.
None of these are terrible to fix. They just take time. And classes began today...

14 January 2009

DOE CSGF Research Statement

I just finished applying for the DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship. In March they tell me if I got it. One of the short responses the CSGF application required was the first time I'd sat down and really thought through my research goals. With the addition of some background material links, here's the prompt and my response...

Essay prompt 1: Field of Interest

"Computational science" involves the innovative and essential use of high-performance computation, and/or the development of high performance computational technologies, to advance knowledge or capabilities in a scientific or engineering discipline. Please describe (in no more than 300 words) your specific research interest paying particular attention to how computational science will spur advances.

Essay response 1

My research uses direct numerical simulation (DNS) of the Navier-Stokes equations to investigate the compressible, turbulent boundary layers present in atmospheric reentry vehicle applications. My work is motivated by both its long-term value and an immediate need at the University of Texas' Center for Predictive Engineering and Computational Sciences (PECOS). PECOS is developing new uncertainty quantification techniques through the study of reentry vehicle thermal protection systems (TPS). Due to its order one impact on vehicle heating rate uncertainty, improving hypersonic turbulent boundary layer science is crucial for PECOS' success.

I have three interwoven research thrusts. First, by combining scalable spectral numerical techniques with a multiscale formulation, I will advance understanding of how TPS ablation products interact with turbulent boundary layers. Second, through a simulation-based characterization of the ablative conditions that may sustain turbulence, I will improve understanding of turbulence transition phenomena in transpired-wall compressible flows. Lastly, I will produce high quality data fields for use in compressible turbulence model development and calibration. This novel data will also fuel PECOS' Bayesian-inspired uncertainty quantification activities.

Improvements in computational science will aid all three of these endeavors. The scientific need to attain higher, more realistic Reynolds numbers and to obtain finer-grained, larger datasets drives DNS towards ever higher performance computing platforms. Increases in compute node availability, compute node memory, and interconnect speed will all boost the quality of the science I produce. Spectral turbulence simulations walk the line between being CPU and communications bound. Accordingly, my research stands to benefit from either improvements to low-level building block performance (e.g. BLAS) or algorithmic advances in high-level scalability (e.g. communication topology optimization). Finally, in turn, my application's stringent requirements will help me drive new computational developments for others to use.

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