23 of November 2017




23 November 2017

19.00–20.30 h. Institute for Catalan Studies (Prat de la Riba Hall)


“SUPERCOMPUTERS: An instrument for science, technology and the progress of society.”

Coordinated by Enric Banda (Barcelona Supercomputing Center, BSC) and Fabrizio Gagliardi (BSC)


Mateo Valero, obtained his Telecommunication Engineering Degree from the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) in 1974 and his Ph.D. in Telecommunications from the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) in 1980. He is a professor in the Computer Architecture Department at UPC, in Barcelona. His research interests focuses on high performance architectures. He has published approximately 700 papers, has served in the organization of more than 300 International Conferences and he has given more than 500 invited talks. He is the director of the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, the National Centre of Supercomputing in Spain. Dr. Valero has been honoured with several awards. Among them, the Eckert-Mauchly Award 2007 by the IEEE and ACM; Seymour Cray Award 2015 by IEEE; Charles Babbage 2017 by IEEE; Harry Goode Award 2009 by IEEE: ACM Distinguished Service Award 2012; Euro-Par Achievement Award 2015; the Spanish National Julio Rey Pastor award, in recognition of research in Mathematics; the Spanish National Award “Leonardo Torres Quevedo” that recognizes research in engineering; the “King Jaime I” in basic research given by Generalitat Valenciana; the Research Award by the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation and the “Aragón Award” 2008 given by the Government of Aragón. “Hall of the Fame” member of the ICT European Program (selected as one of the 25 most influents European researchers in IT during the period 1983-2008; Honoured with Creu de Sant Jordi 2016 by Generalitat de Catalunya. He is member of 5 academies, among them the Academia Europaea. He is Honorary Doctorate by 9 Universities. He is fellow of IEEE and ACM and is an Intel Distinguished Research Fellow.

Abstract of his discussion

Supercomputers have been often compared to other scientific instruments such as telescopes, particle accelerators, microscopes etc. They are expensive to build and maintain, they serve a wide scientific community and produce large amounts of data. Like all those other instruments, they are essential enablers of big science, which requires complex natural phenomena simulation and a large amount of data processing. Good examples are precise medicine, climate and weather monitoring and prediction, and development of new materials. In the discussion I will describe the potential for a level of precise modelling enabled by Exascale computing, inconceivable so far, and the technical and economic challenges in achieving it. I will also review the current plans in Europe to develop over the next several years an entire European HPC stack software and hardware, including a low power HPC processor. To this end 7 first European countries signed an agreement, EuroHPC, in Rome on March 23rd this year. The European Union and its member states felt that without a European supercomputer entirely designed with European technology and competitive enough to be in the top 3 supercomputers in the world, the very same independence and security of Europe will be compromised. BSC is leading this effort with a strong contribution from the major European industrial players in France, Germany, Italy and other countries. The first Exascale system is planned for 2023.

Alison Kennedy, Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Hartree Centre Director, Daresbury Laboratory, Daresbury, Warrington, UK), will talk about the progress of society aspects. The Hartree Centre is funded by the UK government with a remit to improve the global competitiveness of UK industry by facilitating the adoption of High Performance Computing (HPC), High Performance Data Analytics and Cognitive Computing techniques by companies of all sizes. Prior to joining the Hartree Centre, Alison was the Executive Director of EPCC, the national HPC centre based at the University of Edinburgh, and she has recently completed a term of office as the Managing Director and Chair of the Board of Directors of PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe), an association of 24 countries working together for the benefit of Europe. She began her working life as a real time systems programmer in industry, writing operating systems, prior to moving to a role as a software product manager. She has now worked in HPC for about 25 years, initially managing large collaborative projects in HPC and Data, and latterly a HPC centre director. She is also one of the founders of the Women in HPC network, committed to improving inclusivity and diversity in HPC and related fields. Alison Kennedy has a Master of Arts degree in History with Politics and Sociology from the University of Edinburgh, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Technology and Mathematics from the Open University and a post-graduate degree in Business Administration from Heriot-Watt University.

Abstract of her discussion

“Supercomputers and the progress of society.” Europe has an ambitious challenge-led programme of research that reflects the policy priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy and addresses major concerns shared by citizens of Europe and elsewhere. Supercomputers enable sophisticated computer simulation and modelling and complex data analysis across a range of data sources to be undertaken. They play an increasingly important role in helping us to study and solve societal problems and challenges that are too big, too complex, or which extend over too long a period of time, to be tackled by traditional methods such as observation or experiment. Priority areas for Europe include:

* Health, demographic change and wellbeing;

* Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and inland water research;

* Secure, clean and efficient energy;

* Smart, green and integrated transport;

* Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials;

* Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective societies;

* Secure societies – protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens.

Her talk presents some examples of how research in these areas, enabled by supercomputers, is contributing to the progress of society and underlines their continuing importance in shaping our future.

The debate was followed by a Colloquium with the audience, in which the attendants addressed questions of relevance to both disputantes.


20.30–21.30  Cloister of the IEC.

Social drink