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.

Washington … finally!

Well, I’ve been to Washington more than once, but I finally found the time to actually check out the city (the flight arrived Sunday noon and the first thing on the agenda was Sunday evening :-)). It’s a very nice city. It’s very nice for walking around and well connected by subway. I did miss the Pentagon though (well, next time :-)). Here are some pictures:
The workshop was at the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Agency). That was somewhat strange … it didn’t quite look like a hotel but it has an attached hotel (in the large building) and meeting rooms. Kind of cool and highly guarded (one has to check in with security first ;-)).

The white house — it looks much larger in the news. It’s actually really tiny in reality.

The strange guy talking (insulting) trash in front of the house is of course not missing. The Secret Service was also around and didn’t remove him … weird.

They were just standing there.

And of course, the snipers on top of the house ;-). I was expecting that they are hidden better … well.

Heavily armed cars :-).

This is clearly stolen from Berlin (Siegessaeule)!

The Washington monument. That looks actually much much smaller on TV. It’s really huge in reality. One can go up for free … if one stands in a lint at 8:30 am :-(. How stupid …

Of course, the flags are not missing … the thing in the back is the Lincoln memorial. Quite a bit of a walk.

The WWII memorial, Indiana and Illinois.

The infamous Lincoln.

Korean war memorial, this is really well done.

The capitol on the other side of the Washington memorial.

Nice city!

Indianapolis Airport Backscatter X-Ray Fun

When I was travelling to Washington today, I had a fun experience at the Indianapolis airport. Well, the first real fun thing is that this stupid CLEAR thing is dead (this was where you could buy yourself into a priority lane at the security checkpoint). Well, the second nice thing was that preferred (status) customers can now use the retired CLEAR lane (yeah, I was at the top of the line ;-)).

However, the TSA officer directed me to a line that lead to a Backscatter X-Ray scanner. So first, I don’t really mind the scanner too much … well, kinda … it takes nice pictures of your girlfriend.

However, there was a huge sign “We respect your privacy and the use of the scanner is optional”. Well, so I decided to not follow the 300 lb guy in front of me (I am wondering if the officers checking the scans get extra pay). The “normal” metal detector right next to it was empty anyway. So what I did was just walk by the officer at the scanner and said that I’ll just use the metal detector instead. Wow, what followed was really unexpected. She shouted “code 5” at me (as if I knew what that meant) while I proceeded through the metal detector. This apparently meant that I had to go through a manual search … because I refused to use the backscatter x-ray … so much about “optional” and “respect privacy”.

The manual search was really funny. The guy apologized for every single time he touched “sensitive areas” and explained that he would use the back of his hand *lol*. Of course, I kept complaining and eventually talked to the boss of the checkpoint (without much success). He even mentioned that backscatter will not be optional after the testing period. I’ll check Chicago next week but I haven’t seen them there yet.

Update: Btw., Europe is *not* better. Well, at least when you travel to the US. I was going back from Italy through Amsterdam where they had the same things at the gate! Yes, at the gate. Because apparently there are some silly US rules that they have to have a higher security. Refusing to go through was even funnier. So I had a family in front of me and they made the grown-ups go through the scanner while the children were just led through the metal detector (which was closed and they had to turn on for every single use). Well, ok. So I told them that I have concerns about my privacy and health and didn’t want to go through (remember, it’s Europe and there should be some laws … I hope). So they started discussing and showed me the screen of the thing. Well, how could I know what happens to the pictures that were *not* on the screen??? Then they started to explain me that this scanner would work with sonic waves … however, the label clearly said “backscatter” so I didn’t quite trust them. Then I asked why children don’t go through that thing and the answer of the “checkpoint lead” was *very funny*: they’re too small and the scanner can’t reach them. The next thing was that they wanted to deny boarding … fine. I demanded to talk to an airline representative what to do about it and suddenly I got my manual search. They said something in Dutch that I didn’t get … but the search was very thorough. I also had to take my shoes off while everybody else who walked through the scanner that “can’t scan children because they’re too small” did not take their shoes off. Well ,I started arguing again but all I got was “that’s a US regulation”. Very funny. So small terrorists, it’s not rocket science how to game those rules ;-).

Update2: I had four more of those “refusing to go through backscatter” at different US airports … and I have to say that I never went through one. However, I got a private search every single time I refused. And I heard that they’ll be mandatory soon … they also reached Germany (Hamburg) :-(. Well, well, there goes our freedom due to our fears.

Update3: My server is suffering from the fefe effect, so I apologize for any waiting time :-).

Update4: The picture above is apparently a fake — never trust BILD! Sorry, only in German. (Thanks Hanno)

LSAP’10 (HPDC’10) + Argonne Visit

This week, I attended the Workshop on Large Scale Application Performance in Chicago. I was shocked when I arrived at HPDC (sidenote, I took the train again and it was great!): everything seemed to be about Cloud or Grid or a combination of those (+Life Science). I still don’t fully understand what all this stuff is about and what the fundamental scientific problems are. Well, the workshop was very good! I really enjoyed Barton Miller’s keynote about his MRNet research. It’s good work! I also enjoyed listening to the other workshop papers. My talk went really well (I was a bit over-time but that wasn’t bad). We (Timo, Andrew and me) even got the best paper award for our work! That was nice and unexpected.

All-in-all, it was a really good workshop!

I visited Argonne the next day and gave a talk about Next Generation Collective Operations. This was also very entertaining and it was great to be there. I had some really good conversations with some folks. Thanks for inviting me! I completely forgot to take a picture …

AMP’10 and SC’10 PC meeting

This weekend, I attended the Advances in Message Passing workshop and the Supercomputing 2010 PC meeting. AMP was in Toronto and the SC meeting in New Orleans. Well, and the schedule was suboptimal. I had to leave AMP early and catch the last flight from Toronto to New Orleans (7pm). But AMP was clearly worth it! It had a couple of very interesting papers and our own contribution fir very well too! I gave the talk together with Jeremiah (which was an experiment ;-)) — and it was a complete success!
The hotel was also funny, it was inside a shopping mall, here’s the view “outside” the window:
Too bad that we had to leave early. Btw., I spent less than 23 hours in Toronto … and two of the in the US immigration! Yes, the US immigration is *in Toronto* (wtf!). And of course, we didn’t arrive two hours early at the airport … man, catching the plane was really close (they delayed it by 20 minutes because we were not the only ones who had that problem). This is really weird …

The SC meeting was very nice. I met many friends and colleagues and had many good discussions. New Orleans is not really the nicest place I have been to. I tried to save money and stayed in the “Bourbon Inn” — well, on Bourbon Street. I did not know what Bourbon street meant when I booked the hotel :-/. Well, it meant no sleep until around 3am :-(. The street is full of night- and stripclubs … kind of odd when you walk back to the hotel after a full day of meetings. Well, I survived (and saved $150). Also, taking the bus to the airport was an adventure. I also survived this one :-). Bourbon street (the camera didn’t really work because it was *extremely* humid!).


Well, I had another crazy trip last week. I attended two meetings, one in Washington and another one in Poughkeepsie (yeah, I bet you don’t know where that is, it’s an IBM research lab close to Fishkill and about 1:30hrs north of New York City). So I flew to Washington and attended the first meeting (I learned that some subway stations close at 9pm without announcement). Then I flew back to IND because I already had this flight booked and it was cheaper to fly from IND to LGA (through DCA) than from DCA to LGA directly. Doesn’t make any sense but I could sit three hours in lovely airplanes before I arrived back at exactly the same terminal where I left in Washington. Anyway, I made it to LGA, La Guardia New York at 11pm in horrible rain. I got my car, got lost in the Bronx for 30 minutes and then made my way towards Poughkeepsie. The drive was horrible, I saw 30 cm of snow falling in just one hour (amazing) and I barely made it to the hotel before getting stuck.

Well, the meeting was great but I’m not supposed to report on this one (publicly).

Then, on Friday, I had another appointment at IBM TJ Watson, about 45 minutes away. But it kept snowing and Poughkeepsie lost power (they had candles in the hotel :-)). I left two hours early for IBM and barely made it on time, just to learn that TJ Watson was closed and our meeting was one hour late.

The blizzard was strong, all public transit stopped working, all schools and public institutions were closed and most companies too. The roads were barely passable, many freeways were closed — and I didn’t know where to go (I only had the rental car map which was kind of useless, however, my N810 really rescued me there!). Here are some impressions from the drive:

My rental car – I got a nice VW Beetle. Very powerful and the traction control was really worth it (I was the fastest on snowy streets).

The main streets (Highway 9) in the morning. All trucks were stranded.

The freeway entrance (I-84) – wow!

I-84 so far. Looks kind of free, isn’t it? Well, besides all those stranded trucks.

Well, that’s the end ot I-84: a cop who told me that the freeway was closed :-(. Going back one mile in reverse is no fun (especially when you got cars coming from behind and the danger of getting stuck).

Here is a stuck and abandoned (and snowed in) car 🙂

Man, and those local people really don’t know how to drive. Most of them went with 20 mph. I was going 40-50 :-). Passing was kind of dangerous though :-/.

Simply beautiful. Notw how much snow was on the trees and how far they bent over.

Well, and many of them were just lying on the streets. This was rather dangerous too ;-).

This was on freeway 232 – the tree was on two of the three lanes!! I nearly crashed into it.

Another big one on two lanes.

That’s how virtually all street signs looked like – really annoying if you don’t know where you are?

The entrance to IBM TJ Watson.

Well, this whole drive reminded me of GTA IV (thanks again to Microsoft for the xbox 360). Especially the Whitestone bridge in the Bronx … like GTA, but it was $5.50 toll instead of $5 ;-).

A departure monitor in the La Guardia airport — 90% of all flights canceled.

Another one. That was bad.

But I heard the announcement that a plane that was delayed from the day before was leaving in five minutes to Indianapolis. I took my chance, ran to the gate agent and asked to be put on standby for this one. He told me the flight was full and I would have to hope that somebody didn’t show up. Well, and there were about a dozen people on standby waiting for their name to be called (I came last). So one guy wasn’t there — and they called my name (I was the one with highest status in line ;-)) and I got on the flight. 1.5 hours before my scheduled departure (this flight was canceled though). And I made it home, still one hour before my scheduled arrival :-).

Some of my colleagues who chose to fly out of the closer but much smaller Westchester Airport were delayed by two days.

From IU to UI

Yes, now it’s official, I’m moving to Urbana-Champaign to work at the University of Illinois (UI). It’s somewhat a funny change not only because of the IU to UI thing but also with regards to many other things. I’ll be working as a Research Associate at NCSA, or better in the Blue Waters’ Directorate. I’ll work for Bill Kramer and with Marc Snir and Bill Gropp as my scientific advisors.

It was a very tough move because I must say that IU is the best place that I worked at so far and Andrew is by far the best boss I had and it seems hard to imagine a better one :-). Well, but I couldn’t stay forever at IU after I graduated more than a year ago :-(. And it will be a big honor for me to work at UI on Blue Waters, the fastest, or at least most useful/powerful supercomputer that was ever built.

We’ve even managed to find a very nice apartment in Champaign in a single day yesterday (the rush was necessary because I came back on Thursday from the MPI Forum and will travel to Oak Ridge on Monday through Wednesday and I will start at UI on Feb. 1st). The housing market in the U-C area is fortunately open. We made it and that’s most important! We’re planning to move next Friday/Saturday! I’ve already my first meetings and travels scheduled :-).

From Bangalore to Bombay to Zurich to Frankfurt to Bloomington

Well, the title says it all! A terrible long trip was waiting for me after my India experience. India was very very interesting and a very good experience. I loved the food, I was shocked by the social gap which was clearly visible! But I really enjoyed my time there. The hotel was awesome even though they tried to rip me off multiple times.

The best example for hotel ripoff is the driver service to the airport which is 1600 ruppees while a cab merely costs you 650. I followed the advice of locals to fix a price for the taxi to the hotel (I fixed it to 700 ruppees while others who didn’t do this paid up to 1400 :-)). I wanted to try a metered taxi on the way back (pretending that I knew what I did), so I asked the guys at the hotel reception to call me a taxi (easy cab) and they refused to do it (telling me that I should use the expensive hotel service). Only after 5 minutes of annoying discussion in front of some other customers (I tried to discuss the issue as publicly as possible) and asking for the hotel manager, they finally got on the phone and called me a taxi! Weird. They even claimed that I would come late if I used the taxi because it would only be available in one hour. Well, I just took their phone and called my own taxi … ripoff!
The taxi brought me to the airport in 45 minutes for less than 600 ruppees!

The airport was kind of interesting because it was so heavily guarded. I took a picture of a bunker-like military post (the guy in there had an automatic weapon). Interesting is also that you can’t get in without your printed ticket (wow, I was so happy that I printed it because I usually rely on the electronic ticket). bunker

My first flight was with Jet Airways which sounded very adventurous at the beginning but turned out to be the best serviced Economy class flight I ever had. The flight to Bombay was only 1 hour but they served a full excellent meal, much better than the meals one gets on intercontinental flights with US airlines (shame!).

Well, everybody told me to avoid domestic flights in India, and I now know why. It’s a mess, an incredible mess! I arrived at the domestic terminal in Bombay, had to pick up my luggage and stand in a ridiculously long line for the coach bus (!!!) to the international terminal. After standing in line for 30 minutes, somebody told me that I would need a ticket for the bus (wtf) and that I would get it at the very information where I asked 30 minutes ago where the bus would leave (and they did *not* give me a ticket!). Well, I “convinced” the guy who was two heads smaller than I was to get me a ticket ;-). The coach bus was ridiculous and it broke down on the way … well, I finally arrived at the terminal … outside the terminal … see by yourself

Another mess, hundreds of people cramming in front of the terminal and it felt like everybody wanted to carry my bag. Well, I made it in (after fighting for my bag) and they (fortunately) had again some soldiers checking tickets at the airport entrance.

Well, the next shocking/idiotic thing was that I had to “immigrate” in order to get to the international terminals. Well, I could barely hold my laugh when I was asked to give them the address where I would stay in India and explain the purpose of my visit. It’s interesting that the lady didn’t seem to understand that I was trying to leave India (seriously!). Not even the “look, there is a door to Bombay, I obviously come from India” helped. Well, I finally satisfied her steady question for an address in India finally and went on. WEIRD! My passport has now two “India Immigration” stamps. WEIRD! Well, many things didn’t seem to make sense, also the guy who tried to sell me pot in the international boarding (security) area!!! He had an airport badge …

The Swiss air flight was ok, not very nice but I might have been spoiled by Jet airways. Well, I could at least sleep! The Leonardo hotel in Zurich was excellent, they even let me check in in the morning so that I could take a shower :-). The meeting was excellent as well but I fell seriously sick with a food poisoning which is still not over (nearly two weeks later). Well, I cannot recommend India too much I guess.

I left two days later for Frankfurt where I met Natalia and traveled with her back to the US. Well, US airways lost our luggage … as usual. Finally home … well, kind of because now I need to move … after the MPI Forum I guess. Too much going on in January!