Research highlights: U-M group awarded Midwest Big Data Spoke award from NSF for Advanced Computational Neuroscience Network (ACNN)

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A group of three University of Michigan faculty members will lead the Advanced Computational Neuroscience Network project as a “spoke” in the Midwest Big Data Hub program funded by the National Science Foundation.

he Principal Investigator is Richard Gonzalez, Amos N. Tversky Collegiate Professor of the U-M Psychology Department, who has joint appointments in Statistics and Marketing, is Director of the Research Center for Group Dynamics, Research Professor in the Center for Human Growth and Development, and has affiliations with the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Center for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics.

Co-PI’s are George Alter, professor in the History Department and the Institute for Social Research, and Ivo Dinov, associate professor in the School of Nursing and School of Medicine and Director of Statistics Online Computational Resources (SOCR), and associate director for Education and Training of the Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS).

All three are affiliated faculty of MIDAS.

The ACNN program will leverage rapid technological development in sensing, imaging, and data analysis to facilitate new discoveries in neuroscience, and will foster new interdisciplinary collaborations across computing, biological, mathematical, and behavioral sciences together with partnerships in academia, industry and government. ACNN will address three specific problems relating to Big Data in neuroscience:

  • data capture, organization and management involving multiple centers and research groups
  • quality assurance, preprocessing and analysis that incorporates contextual metadata
  • data communication to software and hardware computational resources that can scale with the volume, velocity and variety of neuroscience data sets.

ACNN is a collaboration between U-M, Ohio State University, Indiana University, and Case Western Reserve University.

The BD Hubs and Spokes programs are part of a larger effort at NSF to advance data science and engineering. In Fiscal Year 2017, NSF will invest more than $110 million in Big Data research.

Info Session: Data Science Services at U-M — Nov. 1

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Representatives of Consulting for Statistics, Computing and Analytics Research (CSCAR) and the U-M Library (UML) will give an overview of services that are now available to support data-intensive research on campus.  As part of the U-M Data Science Initiative, CSCAR and UML are expanding their scopes and adding capacity to support a wide range of research involving data and computation.  This includes consulting, workshops, and training designed to meet basic and advanced needs in data management and analysis, as well as specialized support for areas such as remote sensing and geospatial analyses, and a funding program for dataset acquisitions.  Many of these services are available free of charge to U-M researchers.  

This event will begin with overview presentations about CSCAR and Library system data services.  There will also be opportunities for researchers to discuss individualized partnerships with CSCAR and UML to advance specific data-intensive projects.  Faculty, staff, and students are welcome to attend.  

Time/Date: 4-5 p.m., November 1,
Location: Earl Lewis Room, Rackham Building

Research highlights: A new era in disaster research

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By Bob Brustman, U-M Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

University of Michigan researchers have received a $2.5 million NSF grant to develop a computational model that is hoped to significantly advance natural hazards engineering and disaster science.

Natural hazards engineers study earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, landslides, and other disasters. They work to better understand the causes and effects of these phenomena on cities, homes, and infrastructure and develop strategies to save lives and mitigate damage.

Sherif El-Tawil

Sherif El-Tawil

Sherif El-Tawil, the lead PI for the project, is a structural engineer interested in how buildings behave, particularly in natural or man-made disasters. He’s developed 3D models and simulators that show precisely what happens in a building if a particular column or wall is destroyed during an extreme event.

On the project team are Jason McCormick, an earthquake engineering expert, Seymour Spence, who has expertise in wind engineering, and Benigno Aguirre, who is a social scientist interested in how people behave during catastrophes. The rest of the team includes. Vineet Kamat, Carol Menassa, and Atul Prakash, who will develop the simulation techniques used in the project.

The researchers of this newly funded project are creating a computational framework, using the Flux high performance computing cluster, that will define a set of standards for disaster researchers to use when constructing their models, enabling simulation models to work together.

El-Tawil explains: “Disaster research is a thriving area because disasters affect so many people worldwide and there is a lot we can do to reduce loss of life and damage to our civil infrastructure.”

“Lots of researchers study disasters, including engineers like me, but also social scientists, economists, doctors, and others. But all of the studies are essentially niche studies, belonging in the field of the researchers. Our objective is to develop computational standards so that social scientists, engineers, economists, doctors, first responders, and everyone else can produce simulators that interact together in a large, all-encompassing simulation of a disaster scenario. Think of it as the civilian equivalent of a war games simulator.”

el-tawil-nsf“Developing this common computational language will allow completely new studies to occur. Someone might look at the effects of an earthquake on a particular town and its citizens and then the subsequent effects of infectious diseases. With a common language, we can really examine the cascading and potentially out-of-control effects that occur during catastrophic events.”

Beyond developing the computational standards, they hope to create something like an app store through which researchers can share their simulation models and foster new collaborations and new areas of research. 

The grant also includes funding for a programmer housed at Advanced Research Computing (ARC) that will become a shared resource for the rest of campus. The Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery and Engineering (MICDE) provided support for the grant submission, and will continue to do so post-award.

The project brings together an experienced team with expertise in engineering, social science, and computer science. Six of the seven core members are from the University of Michigan and the seventh is from the University of Delaware.

Team members:

  • Benigno Aguirre, professor, Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware
  • Sherif El-Tawil, professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan
  • Vineet Kamat, professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan
  • Jason McCormick, associate professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan
  • Carol Menassa, associate professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan
  • Atul Prakash, professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Michigan
  • Seymour Spence, assistant professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan

HPC User Meetups set for October, November and December

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Users of high performance computing resources are invited to meet ARC-TS HPC operators and support staff in person at an upcoming user meeting:

  • Monday, October 17, 1:10 – 5 p.m., 2001 LSA Building (500 S. State St.)
  • Wednesday, November 9, 1 – 5 p.m., 1180 Duderstadt Center (2281 Bonisteel Blvd., North Campus)
  • Monday, December 12, 1 – 5 p.m., 4515 Biomedical Science Research Building (BSRB, 109 Zina Pitcher Pl.)

There is not a set agenda; come at anytime and stay as long as you please. You can come and talk about your use of any sort of computational resource, Flux, Armis, Hadoop, XSEDE, Amazon, or other.

Ask any questions you may have. The ARC-TS staff will work with you on your specific projects, or just show you new things that can help you optimize your research.

This is also a good time to meet other researchers doing similar work.

This is open to anyone interested; it is not limited to Flux users.

Examples of potential topics:

  • What ARC-TS services are there, and how to access them?
  • I want to do X, do you have software capable of it?
  • What is special about GPU/Xeon Phi/Accelerators?
  • Are there resources for people without budgets?
  • I want to apply for grant X, but it has certain limitations. What support can ARC-TS provide?
  • I want to learn more about the compiler and debugging?
  • I want to learn more about performance tuning, can you look at my code with me?
  • Etc.

MIDAS co-sponsoring Transportation Research Board’s Transformational Technologies symposium — Oct. 31 & Nov. 1 in Detroit

By | Al Hero, Educational, Events, General Interest, News | No Comments

This symposium will bring together leaders from the public and private sectors and academia to meet the challenges posed by deployment of transformational transportation technologies. MIDAS affiliated faculty members Carol Flannagan, Al Hero and Pascal Van Hentenryck will be speaking.

For more information, visit the event website.