DSS News is a free biweekly newsletter from DSSResources.COM 
about computerized Decision Support Systems.


                          DSS News
                     D. J. Power, Editor
             November 20, 2005 -- Vol. 6, No. 25

      A Free Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM 
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           Check the article by Nelson and Wright 
     "Real Time Decision Support: Creating a Flexible 
     Architecture for Real Time Analytics"



* Report from Super Computing 2005 (SC|05)
* DSS Conferences 
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Releases 


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Report from Super Computing 2005 (SC|05)

by Alex Power, Webmaster

On Saturday, November 12, 2005, I went with a group of about 20
people from the Scalable Computing Laboratory (SCL), a part of Ames
Laboratory at Iowa State University, to Super Computing 2005 (SC|05).
We left Des Moines airport at about 12:15PM. We were concerned about
the weather, and in fact there were tornadoes a few hours after we
left, but our flight to Minneapolis went fine. We had around a 4 hour
layover in Minneapolis, which was generally spent trying to fine-tune
some of the programs that would be on display at the conference.
Finally, our flight left and we got into Seattle around 7:30PM. After
checking in to the hotel, we explored the city a bit and had dinner at
McCormick's fish house before going to sleep.

On Sunday and Monday the students in our group were enrolled in the
tutorial program at the conference. On the first day, I attended the
"Parallel Computing 101" tutorial, which was conducted by Dr. Quentin
Stout of the University of Michigan and Dr. Christiane Jablonowski at
National Center for Atmospheric Research. Although the Scalable
Computing Lab (SCL) is mainly focused on cluster computing, I hadn't
done any actual parallel programming, and wanted a thorough overview
of the issues involved in this. 

On Monday I attended parts of several tutorials. First, I attended
part of the tutorial on the Common Component Architecture, which is
designed to allow improved re-use of code between scientific
computations and to allow easier creation of new programs using
already-existing modules. Part of the tutorial was a "hands-on"
session and I did not have a laptop with me, so I attended other
sessions. I listened to a talk on the future of supercomputing by Dr.
Peter Kogge at Notre Dame. He discussed the International Technology
Roadmap for Semiconductors and its impact on the future of computers,
including supercomputers. I also attended a tutorial on programming in
OpenMP. OpenMP is a set of compiler directives and library routines to
easily convert an existing serial program into a parallel program for
shared-memory computers.

Following the tutorials, there was the opening gala for the
convention at 7PM in the exhibit areas. During the gala, I was at the
SCL booth talking to people who came by about the research projects at
the lab. There were over 220 exhibits at the conference, mostly from
hardware providers, such as IBM, Sun, and Intel; and government or
university labs, such as Brookhaven National Lab and Oak Ridge
National Lab. Various foods were available during the gala, and the
bar there featured a drink created for the conference called the
supercomputini. I left the alcohol to those over 21.

In general, simple decision support applications do not need the
capabilities of supercomputers. Large databases requiring large amounts
of storage and data mining programs or large simulations can use the
computational power, but in general the computational power
requirements are not excessive. Many decision support systems are
designed to run on a desktop computer or on a low end server, and do
not need state-of-the-art computational power. The conference was not
particularly targeted to companies that would use supercomputing
solutions in their business and there were few exhibits from software
vendors; Microsoft was one of the few large software vendors with a
significant presence at the conference.

On Tuesday morning, before the keynote speech, several of the people
responsible for the conference gave speeches as well. Bill Kramer, the
Chair of SC|05, gave a summary of the conference. There were over 9250
registered attendees for the conference this year, an increase of over
500% over the past 10 years. There was also information from the Chair
of next year's conference, as well as speeches from the heads of ACM
and the IEEE Computer Society, the sponsors of the conference.

Bill Gates delivered the keynote speech titled "The Future of
Computing in the Sciences". After summarizing the current state of
the computing industry and software, he discussed the future of
computing. As clock speed increases are declining, parallelism
through multi-core and multi-processor computers will need to be used
to continue current trends of performance increases. Gates suggested
that a "personal supercomputer" is the wave of the future, where such
computers are available for under $10,000 and can be in a research lab
locally, while larger jobs are sent to a more powerful computer
elsewhere. Considering that our desktop computers of today are more
powerful than the supercomputers of 20 years ago, this seems like a
reasonable prediction. He also sketched a model for technical
computing. The model starts with collecting data from sensors,
models, or other computers. Data is stored on the network, and then
people can access the data and do analysis. He gave an example of
earthquake data being stored with a research paper, and people who
are reading the paper being able to examine the program used and run
it themselves to see how the results are obtained. This obviously
uses quite a lot of decision support capabilities. The user interface
in the slides looked very nice, but it will take a lot of effort to
get the capabilities shown in the mockups to actually work.

During Gates' speech an example with distributed Matlab was
demonstrated. Kyril Faenov, Director of High Performance Computing at
Microsoft, took a data set of protein spectroscopy readings from
cancer patients and non-cancer patients, and used a genetic algorithm
distributed over 320 processors in multiple locations running multiple
OSs to try to determine which proteins best distinguish between cancer
and non-cancer patients. Once again, the analysis system looked easy
to use, but it will take time to get a system set up where people
will easily have access to supercomputing power. There were some
amusing questions for Bill Gates after the speech, including somebody
who asked if he would talk at the grid forum, and one question asking
that given the energy requirements of the chips, what he thought
about the energy problem.

Following the keynote, there were technical sessions on various
supercomputing topics. As the talks later in the week appeared more
interesting, I took the day to explore the convention floor. The
vendors had many presentations about their products, and most had
T-shirts to give away or drawings for free iPods for the people who
listened to their presentations. There was also a guy personally
giving out plastic antennae, which were amusing. After dinner, I went
with a group from the SCL to a party thrown by Microsoft at the
Seattle Center by the Space Needle. We took the monorail to the
center and got there around 9PM. The feature was a concert by Sheryl
Crow, which none of our group was particularly interested in. The
Science Fiction Museum and the Experience Music Project were
interesting though. They also had another invented drink, the
"Cluster Revolution". I was talking with people from the various labs
and companies there, including two former Iowa State students who were
now with the Krell Institute.

Wednesday had several technical sessions related to decision support
topics. In the Masterworks session titled "The Strategic Future of
Data and the Mining of Massive Data Sets", Robert Grossman of the
National Center for Data Mining and Usama Fayyad of Yahoo discussed
the challenges that arise from having large sets of data and how to
analyze it using data mining solutions. Following the talks, I had my
final hour working at the booth. I then went to lunch with a group
from the SCL at a Thai place a few blocks from the convention center.
When I got back, I listened to a talk by Dr. Mark Gordon, the head of
the SCL, on the computational chemistry software used by his research
group. There was a party hosted by IBM which was supposed to be very
nice, but invitations were limited and I did not get one. Thus, I had
dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and started packing and watched TV
that night.

Thursday morning I finished packing and went to the convention
center. I attended a discussion on performance prediction and
analysis, which discussed various tools to predict the performance of
various different supercomputers on programs and using the available
resources best based on this information. In this setting, decision
support used to determine how a supercomputer should be best used.
Following this session, I had to leave the convention to catch my
plane back to Des Moines, Iowa. The 5 of us on that flight took a
limo from the convention center to the airport. Our plane from
Seattle to Minneapolis was running a bit behind schedule, causing us
to get to the food court just after most of the food vendors in the
airport closed. Due to the cold weather and de-icing procedure, our
plane to Des Moines was late. We arrived in Des Moines around

Editor's note: Alexander Power has been the Webmaster at since 1999 and is currently completing his senior
year at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa with a degree in Math and
a minor in Computer Science. This trip was funded by Ames Research Lab
where Alex has been a student research assistant since May 2005.


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DSS Conferences 

1. Third Annual Pre-ICIS Workshop on Decision Support
Systems sponsored by AIS SIG DSS, December 11, 2005, Las Vegas,
Nevada. Workshop URL: .

2. ISCRAM2006, the Third International Conference on Information 
Systems for Crisis Response and Management, Newark, New Jersey, USA, 
at the New Jersey Institute of Technology from May 14-17, 2006.
Check .

3. ICKEDS'06, the Second International Conference on Knowledge
Engineering and Decision Support, Lisbon, Portugal, May 9-12, 2006.
Check .

4. CIDMDS 2006, International Conference on Creativity and
Innovation in Decision Making and Decision Support 
sponsored by IFIP WG 8.3, June 28th - July 1st 2006, London,
UK. Check .

5. DEXA 2006, 17th International Conference on Database 
and Expert Systems Applications, September 4-8, 
2006, Krakow, Poland. Check .


 Call for Nominations: AIS SIG DSS Award for Best Journal 
      Article 2005, nominations due March 15, 2006. 
      Check .


What's New at DSSResources.COM

11/18/2005 Posted an article by Greg Nelson and Jeff Wright "Real
Time Decision Support: Creating a Flexible Architecture for Real Time


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