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LSU Today Flagship Faculty

Archive
Thomas Sterling

Thomas Sterling

Arnaud and Edwards Professor of Computer Science

What was your previous position and where?

Prior to arriving at LSU a week before Katrina in 2005, I held joint positions at the California Institute of Technology and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. At Caltech, I was a faculty associate at the Center for Advanced Computing Research and at JPL, I was a principal scientist.

What brought you to LSU?

I was attracted to LSU by the opportunities to advance research and engage in higher education. The creation of the state sponsored Center for Computation and Technology is a rare environment for catalyzing interdisciplinary research, building a research team, conducting high risk high reward leap-frog research and benefiting from superior research resources and facilities. LSU also made it possible for me to create a new course in the field of high performance computing that is being exported over the LONI high bandwidth network to other campuses, states and countries.

What is your research interest?

My research interests are ultra scale and performance computer systems architecture and software and graph processing for symbolic computing that may enable and lead to intelligent machines supporting human needs and welfare and U.S. national security.

What do you hope to accomplish at LSU?

Here at LSU, those of the ParalleX Group are dedicated to developing a new generation of supercomputers based on an innovative model of computation that permits co-design of computer architecture, operating system, compiler and runtime software, and programming language to enable new classes of applications at unprecedented detail and accuracy. Climate modeling, renewable energy sources, molecular biology for drug design, knowledge management of societal and security advantage, and real time decision making for ease of user interface all will benefit from the work being conducted at LSU and its resulting accomplishments.

What do you enjoy most about LSU?

The people: my colleagues on the faculty, the research scientists with whom I collaborate on a daily basis and the students for whom I have the rewarding experience to teach and mentor. I have also found that my relationships with university upper leadership has allowed me to contribute to the consensus discussions of directions and goals for LSU, at least in my domain of interest. Finally, I love the trees; they make LSU one of the loveliest campuses in the country.

What are your major accomplishments?

I am best known as the lead and developer of the Beowulf-class Linux clusters which candidly revolutionized the field of high performance computing and for which I and my colleagues won the Gordon Bell Prize. Today, more than 70 percent of the top 500 fastest computers in the world, measured by the linpack benchmark, are of the type or evolutionary descendants of the Beowulf clusters I created at the University of Maryland and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. I also contributed to significant advances in concepts for highly scalable computer architecture for Petaflops performance.

 




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