The 14th PRAGMA Workshop and Conference
The 14th Pacific Rim Applications and Grid Middleware Assembly (PRAGMA) workshop and conference was hosted by the National Center for High-Performance Computing (NCHC) 03/10~03/12, 2008 at the National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung, Taiwan. During the three-day conference, more than 100 experts representing 36 agencies and 12 countries gathered to engage in discussions and realize the workshop’s theme, “Living Grid.” The term “Living Grid” refers to the application of information technology (IT) to our daily lives.
The 14th PRAGMA was supported, in part, by the USA’s National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Science Council’s (NSC) Department of International Cooperation (DIC). Participants included NSF official, Dr. William Y. Chang, the DIC’s Director Chin-Ray Chang and Program Director, Jennifer Hu, and President Jer-Nan Juang and Vice President Yeong-Her Wang of the National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL). Also attending were renowned U.S. scientist, Dr. Larry Smarr, and Director Wen-Yih Sun of the NARL’s National Center for Typhoon & Flood Research (NCDR). Dr. Smarr not only gave a fascinating talk, but also sought to integrate his global marine microorganism research and Optlputer research into existing PRAGMA projects.
Fig. 1.Dr.Larry's keynote "A PRAGMA-OptIPlanet Collaboratory Partnership"
¡iReal-time Large-scale Data Processing and High-definition Interactive Display¡j
The NCHC opened the first day of the 14th PRAGMA workshop and conference with a presentation on its area of expertise, real-time large-scale data processing and high-definition interactive displays. In keeping with the “Living Grid” theme, the subjects focused on biomedicine, earth science, ecology, and classic art. The first topic to be presented was the internationally renowned fruit-fly brain image database from National Tsing Hua University (NTHU). The display enables real-time resolution adjustment and the selection of specific sections of the fruit-fly brain’s nervous system. With this interactive high-definition system, the user is able to select among up to 89 nervous system networks and 27 brain nerve sections. The high-resolution 3D images were extremely impressive!
Next to be displayed was Virtual Taiwan. The high-resolution images that make up Virtual Taiwan are comprised of a combination of satellite and GIS data and displayed in a large-scale immersive virtual environment. The user is able to “fly” over Taiwan using simple mouse movements and the interactive on-screen interface. The real-time image computation, developed in-house at the NCHC, allows for a very quick and smooth 3D effect.
The NCHC invited Dr. Jurgen Schulze of the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) to the 14th PRAGMA to discuss UCSD’s work on virtual environment displays. Dr. Schulze showcased Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Adoration of the Magi.” Through various image-processing techniques, the audience was able to see da Vinci’s sketch, brush strokes, and coloring. Art aficionados were able to see the sketch underneath the painting and experience the work of art as the master was composing it.
Last but not least, the Virtual Aquarium - a real-time underwater video of marine ecology - was displayed. The video feed was piped in through TWAREN’s high-bandwidth network and projected through to the museum’s newly acquired 4K projection system. The clarity and brightness of the video was unforgettable!
Fig. 2. Display of DaVinci’s “The Adoration of the Magi”
Fig. 3. A section of the Fruit fly brain’s and nervous system
¡iThe NCHC’s Efforts Realized Through the Geosciences Group¡j
The primary purpose of PRAGMA is to promote collaboration between Pacific region-based institutions on grid application development. In order to promote more unified discussions, PRAGMA established four working groups: (1) Resources and Data, (2) Telesciences, (3) Biosciences, and (4) Geosciences. Current innovations and discoveries were shared through meetings conducted by individual groups.
The Geosciences group was established in the beginning of 2007, after which the NARL and the NCHC operated under the “Geo Grid” project to push for internal integration and international collaboration. The internal integration aspect of Geo Grid included combining the NCHC’s high-performance computing resources (e.g. computing, storage, networking, monitoring, and 3D high-resolution interactive display technology) with the National Space Organization’s (NSPO) satellite data and engineering technology. Also involved in this collaboration is the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction (NCDR) and the National Center for Research on Earthquake Engineering’s (NCREE). The initial result from the collaboration between these four centers was first presented at the 2nd PRAGMA workshop in December 2007. During the 14th PRAGMA workshop, Director Guey-Shin Chang of the NARL and Deputy Director Whey Fone Tsai of the NCHC presented current developments of the integration effort.
Through the “Geo Grid” project, the initial integration with Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) was completed. AIST compared its satellite data to that of the NSPO’s to get a more accurate geographic image. Taiwan’s contribution to the Geosciences group was evident from this collaboration. During the 14th PRAGMA, Director Chang also suggested the formation of a Geo Grid laboratory at the NCHC’s Network Operation Center (NOC). The center could become PRAGMA’s operation site in Taiwan and serve as a personnel exchange center between Taiwan and the NSF. Such a center would be extremely influential in international integration and group collaborations.
Fig. 4. Director Guey-Shin Chang of the NARL demos Geo Grid
¡iSpreading the Power of Knowledge: PRAGMA Gets Younger¡j
The NSF founded PRAGMA in 2002. Currently, PRAGMA has members from 14 countries (i.e. the U.S.A, Japan, Korea, China, India, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico) and 36 HPC/networking institutes. Commenting on the future direction of PRAGMA, Dr. Peter Arzberger, PRAGMA’s Chair, said that the scale of the organization is now significant. Dr. Arzberger went on to say that the focus, going forward, should be on the perpetuation of the organization through personnel exchanges via the Pacific Rim Undergraduate Experience (PRIME) International Scholarly Exchange program and PRAGMA Institute. Such exchanges encourage participation in international research collaboration and the gaining of new cultural experiences.
The NCHC has been an active participant in the PRIME program since 2004. The NSF rated the NCHC (along with Monash University of Melbourne, Australia, and Osaka University of Japan) as one of the leading international research institutions involved in the PRAGMA program. PRIME provides the opportunity for students to participate in cutting-edge research and helps to ensure the future of ECO Grid personnel. This exchange brings the NCHC, PRAGMA, and UCSD closer. In 2008, UCSD is scheduled to send two students to Taiwan for on-site learning. The NCHC’s effort in technology research once again gains international approval.
Many younger researchers participated in the 14th PRAGMA workshop this year. During the workshop, young researchers and students from various nations presented their research results, thereby, gaining valuable experience, knowledge, and courage. The NCHC took this opportunity to let its young researchers perform as well. Assistant researcher Yi-Lun Pan gave a talk on “Grid Computing Portal,” Mr. Wen-Jei Guo demonstrated “Intelligent Computer Management – DRBL,” and Mr. Max Yu gave a talk on “Resource Brokering.” The young participants brought a certain energy and vitality to the meeting. Most importantly, through the guidance of experienced researchers, the next-generation of researchers learned to collaborate with their international peers.
Fig. 5. NCHC’s Assistant Researcher Yi-Lun Pan talked about Grid portal
Fig. 6. NCHC’s Wen-Jei Guo demos DRBL
¡iPassing the Torch of Research: See you in Malaysia for the 15th PRAGMA!¡j
The last part of the PRAGMA 14th workshop consisted of a summary report from the PRAGMA steering committee. At the start of the conference, Dr. Peter Arzberger congratulated members of the NCHC’s Open Source Software Lab for placing first in France’s Centri open-source software competition, one of the highest honors in the open-source software community. He also welcomed new members to the PRAGMA family: the Philippines’ Advanced Research Institute, Vietnam’s Center for High-Performance Computing at Hanoi University of Technology, and Ho Chi Minh City University of Technique. These institutions were also participants in the Southeast Asia International Joint Research and Training Program in High-Performance Computing Applications and Networking Technology. Their participation was made possible through the joint conference with PRAGMA. Because the NCHC holds 2 out of 23 seats on PRAGMA’s steering committee and because the NCHC’s Dr. Fang Pang Lin was PRAGMA vice-chairman from 2005~2007, many participating nations sought advice from Taiwan on matters of collaboration. This is also proof of NCHC’s influence on PRAGMA.
During the conference relay ceremony, the chairman of the 14th conference, Dr. Fang Pang Lin, passed the PRAGMA token to the chairman of the next conference, Professor Muhammad Idiris Saleh of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Malaysia will be the host of the 15th PRAGMA conference. The token symbolizes unity and friendship and will be passed on with a great zeal for research from the NCHC and other PRAGMA members.
Fig. 8. 14th PRAGMA Group Photo