A need for parallel maths

On Thursday 14th January I attended the inaugural talk by Professor Mark Parsons, ‘“A billion billion calculations in a second – a step too far?”.  Prof. Parsons is Director of the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre which hosts the UK’s national supercomputer, ARCHER.

As an experimentalist, parallel computing has never really been my thing although I collaborate with computer simulators who run intensive simulations in this way.  However, it was highly interesting to hear how the world’s superpowers are competing to create faster and faster computers, with the Chinese winning with Tianhe-2, currently.    Ironically, Prof. Parsons then pointed out that current software techniques cannot cope and such machines cannot be efficiently programmed.  This is because we are still using linear mathematical procedures like Fast Fourier Transforms and Finite Element Methods – to advance our mathematicians need to help find new mathematical techniques suitable for efficient parallel programming.

For those of you interested in the weather, apparently the ECMWF weather model is the world’s best for weather prediction and more reliable for predicting hurricane routes!


By drtiffanywood

Knowledge exchange for start-ups

Personally, I find it very satisfying to play a small part in helping a new business grow from the kitchen sink to a manufacturing plant with products on the supermarket shelf.   When working with academics, my advice to start-ups is:

  • Be open with academics about what you want to solve – often they can solve the unexpected.
  • Academics enjoy teaching and love a keen student (wherever they are from).  Learn as much as you can by asking questions,  and read up from books and literature.
  • Set clear goals when specifying a project and make sure you understand which parts of a project are exploratory and which parts can be achieved.
  • Expect to receive regular presentations to review progress and a final report.

(Email me if there is any advice you think I have missed!)

By drtiffanywood