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Workshop on Experimental Support for Computer Science yields valuable report

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The future development of computer science depends on researchers' ability to conduct consistent, controlled and repeatable large-scale experiments in large-scale, distributed computing and networking.

To tackle this challenge, the FutureGrid project, a partnership among Indiana University and national and international partners, helped host the Workshop on Experimental Support for Computer Science during the SC11 conference in November 2011. The workshop brought together many scientists involved in building and operating infrastructures dedicated to supporting computer science experiments.

A new report, "Supporting Experimental Computer Science," distills the discussion from that workshop into a consensus on the state of the field and directions for moving forward. FutureGrid provides infrastructure for experimental computer science and seeks to contribute to the development of experimental culture in computer science via reports such as this.

Geoffrey Fox

Geoffrey C. Fox

Print-Quality Photo

"This report will be of great interest to scientists and researchers in experimental computer science," said FutureGrid principal investigator Geoffrey C. Fox, director of the Pervasive Technology Institute Digital Science Center at Indiana University and a professor in the IU Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing. "New custom capabilities and software must be developed. We need to know how to support scientists with these specialized requirements, so they can focus on their experiments instead of worrying about hardware. This report continues the positive and forward-looking discussion at SC11."

Fox was one of the FutureGrid authors from four different universities who contributed to the report.

The report sets the stage by describing the experimental culture and existing methodology in computer science. It continues with the properties of the experimental test-beds, whose representatives have participated in the workshop-Grid'5000 in France and FutureGrid and Open Cirrus in the United States, as well as the projects that these test-beds support. And, it describes the layers of experimental infrastructure, followed by profiles of tools and approaches taken by the respective test-beds to provide basic experiment management services and experiment orchestration.

"The report is effectively a reference guide for students on experimental methodology in computer science," said FutureGrid co-principal investigator Kate Keahey, editor of the report and a fellow at the Computation Institute at University of Chicago. "It also explains how to turn principle into practice on experimental test-beds such as FutureGrid, Grid'5000 and OpenStack."

To view or download the report, visit Supporting Experimental Computer Science

About FutureGrid

FutureGrid comprises national and international partners as part of a $15 million project largely supported by a $10.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation. FutureGrid is a distributed test-bed for clouds, grids and high-performance computing that makes it possible for researchers to tackle complex research challenges in computer science. These include topics such as authentication, authorization, scheduling, virtualization, middleware design, interface design, cybersecurity and the optimization of grid-enabled and cloud-enabled computational schemes for researchers in astronomy, chemistry, biology, engineering, atmospheric science and epidemiology.

About Pervasive Technology Institute

Pervasive Technology Institute at Indiana University is a world-class organization dedicated to the development and delivery of innovative information technology to advance research, education, industry and society. Supported in part by a $15 million grant from Lilly Endowment, PTI is built upon a spirit of collaboration and brings together researchers and technologists from a range of disciplines and organizations, including the IU School of Informatics and Computing at Bloomington, the IU Maurer School of Law and University Information Technology Services at Indiana University.

About the Indiana University School of Informatics

Founded in 2000 as the first school of its kind in the United States, the Indiana University School of Informatics is dedicated to research and teaching across a broad range of computing and information technology, with emphases on science, applications and societal implications. The school includes the Departments of Computer Science and Informatics on the Bloomington campus and Informatics on the IUPUI campus.

The school administers a variety of bachelor's and master's degree programs in computer science and informatics, as well as Ph.D. programs in computer science and the first-ever Ph.D. in informatics. The school is dedicated to excellence in education and research, to partnerships that bolster economic development and entrepreneurship, and to increasing opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in computing and technology.

Originally published March 13, 2012