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[August 30, 2014]
NSF Grant Supports Winds of Change in Scientific Software
(Targeted News Service Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) BOISE, Idaho, Aug. 29 -- Boise State University issued the following news release: Wind is a tricky thing. On a flat plain, its direction and speed -- or flow -- can be plotted with fairly simple calculations. When the terrain gets more complex, involving forested mountains, hills and seaside cliffs, so does the math, physics and computing.
This fact is the basis for a new interdisciplinary grant at Boise State designed to develop open-source software to help predict wind patterns, determine optimal placement of wind turbines and increase capacity on existing transmission lines. Ideally, turbines are set up to produce maximum wind energy in a "sweet spot" that offers plenty of wind power with structurally tolerable turbulence levels.
Four Boise State faculty received $500,000 over three years from the National Science Foundation's Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation Program. Their proposal is titled "GEM3D: Open-source Cartesian adaptive complex terrain atmospheric flow solver for GPU clusters." Principal investigator is Inanc Senocak, an associate professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering with expertise in the field of computational fluid dynamics and parallel computing. Also working on the project are Grady Wright and Donna Calhoun in the Department of Mathematics, and Elena Sherman in the Department of Computer Science, each of them bringing unique expertise to the project.
"This is a good example of the types of activities going on at Boise State," said Wright. "It's an interdisciplinary proposal centered on a software idea, pushing the leading edge of what's going on in terms of computational abilities." The project is part of the NSF's vision for a Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st (CIF21) Century Science and Engineering, which identifies advancing new computational infrastructure as a priority for driving innovation.
The CIF 21 vision reads, " Reducing the complexity of software will be a unifying theme across the CIF21 vision, advancing both the use and development of new software and promoting the ubiquitous integration of scientific software across all disciplines, in education, and in industry." "This NSF program focuses on creating a new set of scientific software," said Senocak. "Since the 1980s and '90s, software language and practice have evolved and the hardware has changed immensely. Today's supercomputers use different software. Legacy codes are outdated or perform poorly." Boise State's project not only will assist those involved in wind energy research and wind modeling, but also provide invaluable workforce experience for students in the development of the complex software that defines our age.
"In today's world, we have multiple people writing hundreds of thousands of lines of code to simulate a complex multiphysics problem," said Senocak. "How do we create and maintain these software efforts while making sure that the physics being simulated is right? We need to not only write a code and ensure high performance on supercomputers, but test and maintain our product, so others can continue the work and rely on the results." The grant is part of the "Software Elements" phase of the NSF program. Researchers envision this as a stepping-stone to a second-level grant at the "Software Frameworks" phase. The final elements of the vision are "Software Institutes," which include work with multiple software frameworks and elements, and the reuse of software developed at all levels.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1440638 to Boise State University. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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