Coast to Coast Seminar Series: Live from Edmonton "Advanced Collaborative Infrastructure for Real-Time Computational Steering in Scientific Computing"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
11:30 - 12:30

Dr. Pierre Boulanger
University of Alberta


Advances in computer processing power and networking over the past few years have brought a significant change to the modeling and simulation of complex phenomena. Problems that formerly could only be tackled in batch mode, with their results visualized afterwards, can now be monitored whilst in progress using graphical means, in certain cases it is even possible to alter parameters of the computation whilst it is running, depending on what the scientist sees in the current visual output. This ability to monitor and change parameters of the computational process at any time and from anywhere is called computational steering. By combining this capability with advanced communications tools, like the Access Grid, over high-speed network it is now possible for a group of scientists located across various continents to work collaboratively on simulations allowing them to compare ideas and to share their experience. This is a key advance as the notion of a scientist working alone in his laboratory is disappearing, as scientific problems get larger and more complex. At the University of Alberta numerous scientific projects are already using this technology, to name a few:

The Virtual Wind Tunnel Project at the Computer Science Department

Project CyberCell at the Institute for Bio-molecular Design

The Earth Core Simulation at the Department of Physics

Simulation of Subatomic Physics at the Department of Physics.

Many of these projects use high performance computing facilities such the one provided by the WestGrid infrastructure. Some projects are very close to the final goal of a truly interactive simulator and some are planning to do so. Form our experience collaborating with various Departments it is clear that there is a great need for such systems and for an infrastructure capable of providing this capability. During this presentation, we will present the current status in the development of these facilities and share our experience gained so far.

About the Speaker

Dr. Boulanger worked for 18 years at the National Research Council of Canada as a senior research officer where his primary research interest was in 3D computer vision, rapid product development, and virtualized reality systems. He now has a double appointment as a professor at the University of Alberta Department of Computing Science and at the Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging. His main research topic and teaching is on virtualized reality systems. He is also principal investigator for new media at TRLabs. In 2004, Dr. Boulanger was awarded an iCORE/TRLabs industrial chair in Collaborative Virtual Environment.

He has published more than 200 scientific papers in various Journals and Conferences. He is on the editorial board of two major academic journals. Dr. Boulanger is also on many international committees and frequently gives lectures on rapid product development and virtualized reality. He is the Director of the Advanced Man Machine Interface Laboratory. He is also the scientific director of the Alberta Radiological Visualization Center. On the commercial side, Dr Boulanger is the president of PROTEUS Consulting Inc., an Alberta-based consulting firm specialized in Virtual Reality Applications.