Supercomputing 2011 and 2011 Committee Meeting

Right after the conference in Tucson, I had to go the the SC11/SC12 committee meeting in Seattle. It didn’t seem useful to fly back to Champaign over the weekend (I could have spent 20 hours in planes and 6 hours at home, probably sleeping anyway. So I just stayed in Seattle over the weekend. I received very bad news during that trip but fortunately, I was around a friend and we went hiking in Seattle (thanks Frank!).

We did two day-hikes that were not trivial. Unfortunately, I had my knee injured before but it was ok. On the first day, we climbed mount SI, acutally, we climbed from the bottom to the *very* top (the rock thing on the top!!). This was quite a hike. Approximately 4000 feet height difference and three hours walking (one way). The last climb was up a massive rock wall, it was very dangerous (adrenaline!) but also very impressive and nice. We beat the mountain!

The second day hike was to a large waterfall and a lake at the top of a mountain at Lake Serene. It was just stunningly beautiful even though I got a bit wet in the waterfall, and slipping was somewhat dangerous too :-).

Here is the GPS tracking of our Lake Serene hike (my new phone rocks!):

Here are some pictures:

2011 International Conference on Supercomputing (ICS’11)

This year’s ICS has been in Tucson, AZ. I have served on the program committee and also contributed two papers (one with Marc Snir and the other one with the folks from IU) to the conference. I also co-chaired a workshop with Kamil Iskra. So I had tons of reasons to go there — I wasn’t very thrilled about the location (isn’t Arizona a boring desert, eh?). And actually, it’s not too easy to get to Tucson, it was a 21 hour travel from Zurich *uff*.

Well, I was very surprised! The hotel was just amazing and the landscape even more. I would have never believed that such large cacti exist! I mean – wow! And they’re hundreds of years old. The pool was also amazing, during the day it was full of “tourists” and at night, many computer scientists accumulated around (and in) it :-). It was really nice!

The conference was amazingly well organized. Actually, this was one of the best (if not *the* best) conference I visited since a long time! Congratulations Dave!

Here are some pictures:

Visiting ETH Zurich

I visited ETH Zurich at the end of last month. Zurich is probably one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and definitely one of (if not the) most expensive city :-). Public transit is just a dream, I believe one really doesn’t need a car around the city (I know multiple people who live there and don’t have a car). The city is very hilly (I had to climb 1000 stairs to get from the main train station to my hotel, quite workout :-)). ETH itself sits majestically on top of a hill and offers a beautiful view. Especially the Professor’s lunch area, on top of the main building has an absolutely stunning view on the city and the lake. I also had many very interesting technical discussions and like the CS department there. Here are some pictures:

The gate to the computer science and chemistry building.

The entrance to the computer science building, all very impressive. The doors must weigh a ton but they are automatic (not like in Chemnitz where one really has to move the heavy doors ;-)).

The majestic main building. I gave my talk here.

View of the city from the main building.

Another view of the city.

Another view of the city.

The main building’s back entrance :-).

Anchorage, Alaska

I’ve been at IPDPS in Alaska this week. Actually, not just in Alaska but in *the* city in Alaska, Anchorage! Well, I was shocked, seriously. Achorage supposedly had 300.000 citizens, however, it seemed much smaller than Champaign or Chemnitz! There was really nothing happening there :-(. The mountains in the background are extremely nice, I agree.

The other nice things was that it was effectively light until 12am. It’s really weird when you step out of a bar at 11pm and it’s like noon …. well, one weird thing was that all the natives seem to be drunk after 10pm for some reason. As I said, a strange place!

The conference was amazing! It seemed to me as if I knew every other person. And the IPDPS 25th anniversary show and Moose and Awards sessions were just great (with the right people around ;-)).

This year, I was chairing the HIPS workshop there which also went extremely well! We had 58 attendees during the (excellent) keynote of John Mellor-Crummey!

Unfortunately, I had barely time to visit the wildlife, but we made a small trip. Here are some pictures to get an impression of Alaska (it’s basically like the Alps, nothing too special).

Interestingly, it wasn’t all that cold, around 12-15 degree Celsius. A fun fact is that Monday was colder in Champaign (10 degree Celsius) than in Alaska (14 degree Celsius) :-).

Yes, I have been there! Eklutna lake, near Anchorage!

Mountains …

More mountains …

View on the city (small, isn’t it?)

Even more mountains …

(Thanks to Jens and Thomas for the pictures, I forgot my camera …!)

Viva la Mexico! … and San Diego :)

This week I have been at the DOE ASCR Exascale meeting in San Diego. It was actually a very nice and informative meeting. I hope the strategy documents will be published soon. We identified a couple of challenges for Exascale (yes, more challenges :-)).

My flight was in the afternoon of the last day and nobody else was around that afternoon :-(. Well, so I decided to take the local commuter train to Mexico ($2.50 each way ;-)). It’s pretty cool, one usually doesn’t walk across international borders like this. The funny thing was that nobody cared when I walked into Mexico (the officer was sleeping), however, the controls to get back in the US were extremely strict so that there was a line of at least 1000 people and I would have missed my plane if I wouldn’t have walked to the front of the line (which worked surprisingly well).

Here are some pictures:
Apparently, the parking Lot and Mexico are the same direction 🙂

Glad that I didn’t come by car, seems like there are more serious controls.

The famous US-Mexican border, well, not too spectacular.

Walking through those prison-bar things is actually fun, and they twist rather fast if you want ;-).

The border stone, not sure why it says something about water commission there??

The only Mexican guard (the immigration officer was sleeping on his chair a bit further but they didn’t want me to take pictures. Too bad. Btw., this guy had a G3 *lol*.

Very very inviting … really. I read that many people are robbed in this area.

But they had a gigantic flag! Viva la Mexico!

Well, time to go home (there was really not much to see actually — but the food was just *awesome*. I love *real* Mexican food now! Cilantro is not that bad if it’s used in the right combination.). Those signs were actually very helpful for dumb tourists like me.

Taco Bell has a branch in Mexico. If they know?

Probably Tijuana’s main sight, well, kinda sad but it’s humongous and the steel rods make funny noises in the wind.

Again, good that I didn’t go by car, the line into the US was hideous and sneaking to the front seems harder by car ;-).

All-in-all an experience that I didn’t want to miss. I didn’t have much time though, but I guess Tijuana is not that touristy in general ;-).

Teaching CS498 at UIUC

I have been appointed as Adjunct Assistant Professor in Computer Science at UIUC since last year. My first service to the CS department is teaching the lecture CS498 “Hot Topics in HPC: Networks and Fault Tolerance” together with Franck Cappello this semester. It is the first class that I teach in the US academic system and it is a bit different from what we used to do in Germany. Classes are generally smaller (I have around 20-25 students, some of which do not take credit) which enables a more interactive teaching style. In my networking part, I start with focusing on the theoretical foundations and models for communication and then show practical examples for each of them and how the knowledge can help practical setting. I think it’s most important to understand the basics (this is also harder to learn and understand from textbooks than the technical details) before diving into practical networks. Teaching this class has been a lot of fun so far even though the preparations are really weekend-time consuming. I really enjoy the interactions with the students during class.


I’m teaching the class every Wed and Fri 9:30-10:45am in Siebel 1103. If anyone is interested in the content, check out the class webpage at .

SC10 Best Paper

Yes, we received the SC10 Best Paper Award for our paper “Characterizing the Influence of System Noise on Large-Scale Applications by Simulation”. Congratulations also to Timo and Andrew! SC10 is the premier international venue for HPC research and development. Only 50 of the 253 submitted papers have been accepted at SC10 and it was very nice to hear that our paper was one of the best paper nominees (each track nominated a best paper), but I didn’t expect that we would be best of all the nominees! The final decision was made after the presentations. My talk was in a way too small room which was completely packed (people were standing at the wall and sitting on the floor in the aisle). The room was “allowed to” host 150 people (sign at the wall) but there were at least 250 in there :-). Glad that there was no firefighter around. Well, the air got rather bad after ten minutes ;-). The talk itself went extremely well, I was right in time and the audience had a lively discussion that I merely moderated (many questions trying to pinpoint flaws were actually answered by the audience :-)). That was really enjoyable.


Generally, I really enjoyed SC this year, I have had so many meetings that I was barely able to check the show-floor for goodies. New Orleans was also great (well, my hotel was, let’s say “suboptimal”, but it was very cheap). I’m looking forward to next year!

PROPER 2010/EuroPar Workshop in Ischia, Italy

I am just back from the PROPER workshop in conjunction with EuroPar in Ischia. I have to say that it was absolutely awesome and want to thank my sponsors, Andreas Knuepfer and VI-HPS, again. The joy was even multi-dimensional, first, my keynote went very well and inspired many new ideas. Second, the following talks inspired even more ideas (especially Allen’s presentation). Third, the place was just beautiful (it was somewhat strange to be in a resort among the tourists and talk about CS topics. Fourth, I met many old friends and colleagues and also got to talk to Arnold Rosenberg about graph separators briefly. I loved it even though the travel was very stressful. My travel to Ischia took 25 hours (driving by car to IND, flying to Paris-CDG, flying to NAP, taking the bus to the ferry, ferry to Ischia, Bus to the hotel). The way back was the same order of magnitude. Given that I stayed only 36 hours on the island, the trip seems rather crazy. But hey, I had no jetlag after coming back :-).

Here are some impressions:ischia1
The hydrofoil ferry seemed pretty fast but wasn’t actually. Well, I fell asleep immediately after a 23 hours travel without any sleep.

The room where I presented the keynote :-).

The food was awesome! Fish, fish and more fish. Even fish-fries (which tasted like french, aehem freedom fries and were somewhat addictive).

The main attraction on Ischia. Well, I didn’t actually find the time to visit it, too much chatting going on … but I’ll probably get there another time.

Hot Interconnects 2010 and Tutorials at Google

This year’s Hot Interconnects Conference was very special. Not only was it at Google but I was in the committee as tutorials chair. The conference was very good and I really enjoyed the keynotes and the invited talks on Exascale interconnects and the many conversations I had. The tutorials also went very well. Here are some impressions:

Raj Jain’s Future Internet tutorials.

A Google bike, it looks even funnier when I rode it ;-).

The facility.