EECS Joint Colloquium Distinguished Lecture Series

Wednesday, January 29, 2003
Hewlett Packard Auditorium, 306 Soda Hall
4:00-5:00 p.m.

Professor Larry Smarr

Director, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, UC San Diego


The OptIPuter project - removing bandwidth as an obstacle in data intensive sciences




The OptIPuter is a radical distributed visualization, teleimmersion, data mining, and computing architecture. The National Science Foundation recently awarded a six-campus research consortium a five-year large Information Technology Research grant to construct working prototypes of the OptIPuter on campus, regional, national, and international scales. The OptIPuter project is driven by applications leadership from two scientific communities, the US National NSF's EarthScope and the National Institutes of Health's Biomedical Imaging Research Network (BIRN), both of which are beginning to produce a flood of large 3D data objects (e.g., 3D brain images or a SAR terrain datasets) which are stored in distributed federated data repositories. The project is led by the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology and by the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Essentially, the OptIPuter is a "virtual metacomputer" in which the individual "processors" are widely distributed Linux PC clusters; the "backplane" is provided by Internet Protocol (IP) delivered over multiple dedicated 1-10 Gbps optical wavelengths; and, the "mass storage systems" are large distributed scientific data repositories, fed by scientific instruments as OptIPuter peripheral devices, operated in near real-time. Collaboration, visualization, and teleimmersion tools are provided on tiled mono or stereo super-high definition screens directly connected to the OptIPuter to enable distributed analysis and decision making. The OptIPuter project aims at the re-optimization of the entire Grid stack of software abstractions, learning how, as George Gilder suggests, to "waste" bandwidth and storage in order to conserve increasingly "scarce" high-end computing and people time in this new world of inverted values.


Dr. Smarr is a pioneer in prototyping a national information infrastructure to support academic research, governmental functions, and industrial competitiveness. In 1985, Dr. Smarr became the founding Director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Most recently, Dr. Smarr became the founding Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, which spans the Universities of California at San Diego and Irvine. Dr. Smarr received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and conducted observational, theoretical, and computational based astrophysical sciences research for fifteen years. In 1990 he received the Franklin Institute's Delmer S. Fahrney Gold Medal for Leadership in Science or Technology. Dr. Smarr is a member of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee.