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January 2017 — February 2017

A Rising Peptide (Feb 4, 2017)
A team of researchers led by biophysicists at the University of Washington have come one step closer to designing tailor-made drug molecules that are more precise and carry fewer side effects than most existing therapeutic compounds. With the help of the Mira supercomputer, located at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, the scientists have successfully designed and verified stable versions of synthetic peptides, componen...
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Why Building a Diverse Workforce Requires Computer Science (Feb 4, 2017)
In the Silicon Valley, they call it the “3 percent problem.” African-Americans and Latino/Hispanics make up a tiny fraction of the overwhelmingly white, male-dominated workforce of major technology companies. No leader of the top 10 U.S.-based technology companies is African-American or Latino/Hispanic, and only one is a woman—Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM.

China to Develop Prototype Super, Super Computer in 2017 (Feb 3, 2017)
China plans to develop a prototype exascale computer by the end of the year, state media said Tuesday, as it seeks to win a global race to be the first to build a machine capable of a billion, billion calculations per second. If successful, the achievement would cement its place as a leading power in the world of supercomputing. The Asian giant built the world's fastest supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight machine, in June last year, which was twice as fast as the previous number one. It used on...
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Artificial Intelligence Is About to Conquer Poker, But Not Without Human Help (Feb 3, 2017)
AS FRIDAY NIGHT became Saturday morning, Dong Kim sounded defeated. Kim is a high-stakes poker player who specializes in no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em. The 28-year-old Korean-American typically matches wits with other top players on high-stakes internet sites or at the big Las Vegas casinos. But this month, he’s in Pittsburgh, playing poker against an artificially intelligent machine designed by two computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon.

OpenPOWER Academic Group Carries 2016 Momentum to New Year (Feb 2, 2017)
Academia has always been a leader in pushing the boundaries of science and technology, with some of the most brilliant minds in the world focused on how they can improve the tools at their disposal to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. That’s why, as the Leader of the OpenPOWER Academic Discussion Group, I believe working with academics in university and research centers to develop and adopt OpenPOWER technology is key to growing the ecosystem. The Academia Group is enabling...
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MIT Lincoln Laboratory Takes the Mystery Out of Supercomputing (Feb 2, 2017)
The introduction of multicore and manycore processors capable of handling highly parallel workflows is changing the face of high performance computing (HPC). Many supercomputer users, like the big DOE labs, are implementing these next generation systems. They are now engaged in significant code modernization efforts to adapt their key present and future applications to the new processing paradigm, and to bring their internal and external users up to speed. For some in the HPC community, this cre...
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Teaching Computers to Recognize Unhealthy Guts (Feb 1, 2017)
A new proof-of-concept study by researchers from the University of California San Diego has succeeded in training computers to “learn” what a healthy versus an unhealthy gut microbiome looks like based on its genetic makeup. Since this can be done by genetically sequencing fecal samples, the research suggests there is great promise for new diagnostic tools that are, unlike blood draws, non-invasive.

Industry Program Study Labeled ‘Key Scientific Article' by Engineering Publication (Feb 1, 2017)
Advances in Engineering—which disseminates the most important developments in engineering fields for their highly technical/academic audience—has recently labeled a paper that came from the National Center for Supercomputing Application's (NCSA) Industry Program as a "key scientific article contributing to science and engineering research excellence."

Michela Taufer Named SC19 Chair (Jan 31, 2017)
The University of Delaware’s Michela Taufer has been elected general chair of the 2019 International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis (SC19). Sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery and IEEE, SC is the primary international high-performance computing (HPC) conference. “We are excited to have the benefit of Dr. Taufer’s leadership for SC19,” says John West, director of strategic initiatives at the Texas Advanced Computing Center and ...
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Off-Kilter Harmonies (Jan 31, 2017)
Asegun Henry wants to avert the worst effects of climate change by finding new forms of renewable energy and improving the materials that contribute to energy use. "The way we produce electricity today pollutes the environment," said Henry, a mechanical engineering professor at Georgia Tech. "My research is primarily centered on converting us from a fossil fuel-based infrastructure to a renewable- or solar–based infrastructure so we can rely on renewable forms of energy that don't pollute the ...
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HP Labs Builds Experimental Optical Processor (Jan 27, 2017)
According to a report in IEEE Spectrum, the chip design implements an Ising machine, which can take on the computational behavior of magnetic material. In a real magnet, atoms can “spin” up or down to represent different states. In the optical approach, magnetic spin is simulated using a combination of light beams, wave guides, interferometers, and heater wires – all integrated on-chip. The spins in HPE’s optical implementation are represented by “two phases of light that are 180 degre...
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Remote Visualization: An Integral Technology for Upstream Oil & Gas (Jan 27, 2017)
As the exploration and production (E&P) of natural resources evolves into an even more complex and vital task, visualization technology has become integral for the upstream oil and gas industry. To assess potential drilling sites, monitor wells, and track reservoir depletion, geoscientists, geophysicists, and engineers use large seismic datasets to build 3D models of the earth’s subsurface. Remote visualization has been used to access, interpret, and manipulate these models for over 30 years.

Making AI Systems that See the World as Humans Do (Jan 26, 2017)
A Northwestern University team developed a new computational model that performs at human levels on a standard intelligence test. This work is an important step toward making artificial intelligence systems that see and understand the world as humans do.

Why the U.S. Needs a Smokey Bear of Cybersecurity (Jan 26, 2017)
We all remember the bear with a big yellow hat who alerted to the perils of leaving a fire burning at a campsite. And the "buckle up for safety" PSA has been making the rounds for decades. But there are a number of intangible threats that aren't given the same attention as fire or car safety -- and that needs to change, according to Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. The organization is funded in part by the Department of Homeland Security and works to ed...
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A New Dawn for UK Engineering (Jan 25, 2017)
Engineering represents 27 percent of British GDP and supports 14.5 million jobs across the country, making it a driving force for both the UK and global economies. In the UK, the sector has been calling on the government to redress the economy towards engineering for years, and to take action to significantly improve the pipeline of engineering graduates and apprentices emerging from British universities and colleges.

The Best and Worst Countries for Paying Engineering Grads (Jan 25, 2017)
Engineering fields often top the list of lucrative careers for new grads — yet students may be still be selling themselves short. Engineering students in the U.S. expect to earn an average $62,948 in their first job after graduation, according to a December report from Universum, a Stockholm-based employer branding firm. That places the country second only to Switzerland in terms of salary expectation. The firm surveyed 277,590 engineering students in 57 countries during September.

Data Map Shows Computer Science, Business are the Most Popular Online Courses in the U.S. (Jan 24, 2017)
Coursera has analyzed data from 5 million students in the United States who have enrolled in the company’s massive open online courses (MOOCs), uncovering that computer science and business are the most popular topics overall in the majority of states. “Previously, we’ve shared data on how topic interests vary by country,” wrote Kyle Shiells, a data scientist at Coursera. “This time, we wanted to look more closely at course enrollments among the 5 million learners in our largest market...
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The Tiny Robots Revolutionizing Eye Surgery (Jan 24, 2017)
Last September, Robert MacLaren, an ophthalmologist and professor at Oxford University, plunged a tiny robotic arm into William Beaver’s eye. A membrane had recently contracted on the 70-year-old priest’s retina, pinching it into an uneven shape and causing him to see the world as if reflected in a hall of mirrors. Using a joystick and a camera feed, MacLaren guided the arm of the Robotic Retinal Dissection Device, or R2D2 for short, through a tiny incision in the eye, before lifting the wri...
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China to Develop Prototype Super, Super Computer in 2017 (Jan 23, 2017)
China plans to develop a prototype exascale computer by the end of the year, state media said Tuesday, as it seeks to win a global race to be the first to build a machine capable of a billion, billion calculations per second. If successful, the achievement would cement its place as a leading power in the world of supercomputing. The Asian giant built the world's fastest supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight machine, in June last year, which was twice as fast as the previous number one.

Research Team Sets New Mark for 'Deep Learning' (Jan 23, 2017)
Neuroscience and artificial intelligence experts from Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine have taken inspiration from the human brain in creating a new "deep learning" method that enables computers to learn about the visual world largely on their own, much as human babies do.

Women Coders from Russia, Italy, and Poland Top Study (Jan 22, 2017)
According to a study posted on HackerRank the best women coders as judged by performance on HackerRank challenges come from Russia, Italy, and Poland. The U.S. placed 14th. Countries with largest proportions of women coders participating in the challenges are India, United Arab Emirates, and Romania. The U.S. was eleventh. Attracting women to STEM careers generally and HPC specifically is an ongoing challenge although progress is being made.

Wanted: A Few (Hundred) Good Computer Science Teachers (Jan 22, 2017)
Here’s something to wrap your brain around: Washington state, one of the nation’s foremost tech hubs, has historically only offered computer science as an elective in public schools — if it’s offered at all. Currently, only one in 10 schools in the state offers courses that teach kids advanced computer science skills.

Catching CRISPR in Action (Jan 21, 2017)
One of the most talked about biological breakthroughs in the past decade was the discovery of the genome editing tool CRISPR/Cas9, which can alter DNA and potentially remove the root causes of many hereditary diseases. Originally found as part of the immune system of the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria, CRISPR associated protein 9 (CAS9), in its native state, recognizes foreign DNA sequences and disables them. In bacteria, the system is used to target foreign viral DNA from bacteriophages – DN...
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Upping the Ante: Top Poker Pros Face Off vs. Artificial Intelligence (Jan 21, 2017)
Four of the world’s best professional poker players will compete against artificial intelligence developed by Carnegie Mellon University in an epic rematch to determine whether a computer can beat humans playing one of the world’s toughest poker games.

IBM Wants to Build Machine Learning ‘Macroscopes’ to Understand the World (Jan 20, 2017)
Like many tech companies, IBM is starting the new year by making a few predictions. One of them has to do with a software concept they call a “macroscope,” a software technology that can be used to analyze the complexities of the physical world. IBM predicts that within five years, such technology will “help us understand the Earth’s complexity in infinite detail.”

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