Last week I enjoyed hosting a visit in Redmond from Chris Kemp, NASA’s new Chief Technology Officer for information technology. Our discussions were with folks from the Windows Azure cloud computing team, the high-performance computing and large-data folks, and our Extreme Computing Group. I smiled when Chris said he was a fan of the book Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything, written by Microsoft’s Gordon Bell and colleague Jim Gemmell. (I wrote about their research projects in an earlier post, Total Recall for Public Servants.)
In that spirit of large-data research, this week Microsoft is launching something that could be big – really big. We are publicly announcing the Technical Computing initiative; check out the TC community site at www.modelingtheworld.com. This initiative is designed to provide new platforms and tools for those who are literally inventing our future: engineers, scientists, and analysts who are addressing complex issues, and require better access to large scale computational resources and simpler modeling environments. The Technical Computing group’s vision statement is that people and organizations realize their full potential through pervasive, accurate and timely modeling of reality.
I say the “TC community” because science progresses best in iterative, sharing fashion where one leap of intuition builds on another. You can follow along in this TC community with a richly interactive Facebook page (www.facebook.com/modelingtheworld), or the TC Twitter account (@modelingtw).
The ModelingtheWorld.com site itself is quite social, with video vignettes; I guess this is a case where the hard sciences can be social sciences too (forgive the pun). You might enjoy the interviews with leading Microsoft Research and external scientific notables well-known in the technical computing field, talking about current trends and opportunities in areas like computational finance, genomics, aeronautics, computational biology, and more. In addition to MS leaders like Craig Mundie, you’ll find discussions with international scientists from other organizations including:
- Maurizio Davini – CIO, Department of Physics, University of Pisa
- David Lifka – Director for Advanced Computing, Cornell
- Birali Runesha – Director of Scientific Computing, University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute
- Craig Stewart – Executive Director, Pervasive Technologies Institute, Indiana University
- Thomas Sterling – Professor of Computer Science, LSU (father of Beowulf clusters)
- Horst Simon – Associate Laboratory Director for Computer Sciences, Berkeley Lab
- Kenji Takeda – Senior Lecturer in Aeronautics, University of Southampton
The goal of “Modeling the World” fits hand in hand with the work we and others are doing with advanced web tools, like our immersive augmented-reality enhancements in Bing Maps. I’m excited that, at the same time Microsoft and other companies are releasing cool new web software for the average consumer and geek, we’re also demonstrating an enduring commitment to providing millions of scientists, engineers, and analysts with the computing power and sophisticated tools they need to speed advanced discovery and spend more time on their work instead of grappling with complicated technology. As Craig Mundie says in his interview, the TC initiative intends to do “for science and engineering what the spreadsheet did for business,” enabling scientists, engineers and analysts to make faster, more accurate predictions in a collaborative scientific ecosystem.
I hope you’ll check out www.modelingtheworld.com, and let me know what you think.
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