CSE 2013: “Big Data” and “Planet Earth” Take Leading Roles at SIAM CSE Conference

June 3, 2013

Former SIAM president Cleve Moler presented the 2013 SIAM/ACM Prize in Computational Science and Engineering to Linda Petzold at CSE13. Petzold, a professor of computer science and mechanical engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, was honored for her “pioneering research in methods for the computational solution of differential–algebraic equations, their incorporation into widely distributed software and scientific applications, and her significant accomplishments in pioneering computational science and engineering education.”
The SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering has seen dramatic growth since its inception in 2000. CSE13, held in Boston, was no exception---it was in fact the largest SIAM conference to date. The registered attendance of 1370 reflects a 65% increase over CSE11 and a four-fold increase in attendance since the 2000 conference.

The program for CSE13 offered an enormous diversity of topics across computational science and engineering. Popular themes among the 270 minisymposia included methods for multiscale and multiphysics problems, numerical methods for PDEs, high-performance computing, scientific software, fast algorithms, numerical linear algebra, model reduction, uncertainty quantification, optimization, inverse problems, and CSE education. The 61 presentations in the poster session ranged across a similar set of themes.

The conference had two special themes: Computational Mathematics for Planet Earth and Big Data. These themes were chosen to reflect the designation of 2012 as a year of emphasis on Mathematics, Statistics, and the Data Deluge and of 2013 as the year of Mathematics of Planet Earth. SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing, in conjunction with CSE13, will devote a section of an upcoming issue to the themes Planet Earth and Big Data; guest-edited by Tamara Kolda (Big Data) and Irad Yavneh (Planet Earth), the section will feature high-quality scientific-computing papers in one or (optimally) both of these areas.

The invited plenary talks at CSE13 were a chance to see inspiring examples of CSE in real applications: medicine (Natalia Trayanova), astrophysics (Joshua Bloom), reservoir simulations (Jan Dirk Jansen), and computational chemistry (Emily Carter). Invited plenary speakers also presented cutting-edge methods in reduced-order modeling (Jan Hesthaven), multiphysics problems (Barbara Wohlmuth), and big networks (Tamara Kolda), and provided forward-looking thoughts for the challenges of exascale (William Gropp, Paul Fischer). The articles in this and upcoming issues of SIAM News expand on some of these highlights.

A particular success of CSE13 was its engagement with SIAM student members. The conference attendance numbers include 250 registered students. Special events for students included a lunch-time CSE careers panel sponsored by The MathWorks and IBM, which drew more than 100 students (a student's-eye view of the event can be found here). The MIT Center for Computational Engineering sponsored a prize for the Best Student Poster, and the Bavarian Graduate School of Computational Engineering (BGCE) Prize competition was held for the fourth time. Local SIAM Student Chapters from MIT and Tufts were actively engaged in helping with conference operations, and the students also organized tours to the MIT campus for those willing to brave the wintry Northeast weather. We were thrilled to see the next generation of computational mathematicians, scientists, and engineers so energetically involved.

Prize-winning student posters in CSE. Top prize went to Lorenz John and Olaf Steinbach of Graz University of Technology for "Optimal Dirichlet Boundary Control for the Navier–Stokes Equations." Left-hand photo, John highlighted the poster's fine points for Bedrich Sousedik and Luke Olson. Second-prize recipients Tania Bakhos, Arvind Saibaba, and Peter K. Kitanidis of Stanford University were recognized for "Flexible Krylov Subspace Methods for Shifted Systems." Right-hand photo, Bakhos was on hand at the session to discuss her group's research. The competition, which was sponsored by the MIT Center for Computational Engineering, opened with a "poster-blitz," in which student presenters, in rapid succession, conveyed the essence of their posters in 1–2 minutes. Photos by Susan Whitehouse.

Going into the conference, the organizers had concerns regarding the unexpected large attendance, which resulted in an unprecedented 20 parallel sessions running for a full five days. The actual conference atmosphere was overwhelmingly positive, however, reflecting the upside of a large conference---a great variety of session topics to choose from at all times, and excellent networking opportunities, given the significant portion of the community in attendance. The SIAG business meeting saw a vigorous discussion of the future of the CSE conference, including possible structural changes that may be needed if the conference continues to grow. How that plays out remains to be seen at CSE15.---Karen Willcox, MIT, and Hans Petter Langtangen, Simula Research Laboratory and University of Oslo.

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