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Massachusetts Schools Team Up for Supercomputer Center

 Associated Press (10/09/11) Stephen Singer

The Massachusetts Green High Performance Computer Center (MGHPCC) aims to capitalize on the huge boost in the amount of computer power available for academic research.  Boston University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, and the University of Massachusetts formed the venture to improve academic research in protein structure, fluid flows, the dynamics of the earth’s atmosphere, human social interaction, the evolution of the galaxy, and other issues.  Each university invested $10 million in the project.  The MGHPCC also received $25 million from the state of Massachusetts and $2.5 million from both EMC Corp. and Cisco Systems.  The center is designed to appeal to companies and other businesses looking to establish a high-tech presence in western Massachusetts.  It also helps meet a growing a demand for more powerful computers to do wider-ranging research, says Thom Dunning, director of the National Center for Supercomputing at the University of Illinois.  “The driver is the complexity of scientific problems we’re encountering,” Dunning says.  Only about a dozen employees will work at the 90,000-square-foot building, as most of the research will be performed remotely from university campuses.



Experimental Mathematics: Computing Power Leads to Insights

American Mathematical Society (10/13/11) Mike Breen;

Annette Emerson In a forthcoming article, “Exploratory Experimentation and Computation,” American Mathematical Society (AMS) researchers will describe how modern computer technology has expanded society’s ability to discover new mathematical results. “By computing mathematical expressions to very high precision, the computer can discover completely unexpected relationships and formulas,” says AMS researcher David H. Bailey. “The computer can be seen as a perfect complement to humans—we can intuit but not reliably calculate or manipulate; computers are not yet very good at intuition, but are great at calculations and manipulations.” The article notes that the inductive aspect of mathematics now includes the use of computers, which have increased the amount of exploration that can be completed. The article also discusses the need to redesign mathematics education to include experimental mathematics tools. “The students of today live, as we do, in an information-rich, judgment-poor world in which the explosion of information, and of tools, is not going to diminish,” says AMS researcher Jonathan M. Borwein. “We have to teach judgment [not just concern with plagiarism] when it comes to using what is already possible digitally.”