December 15, 2006
Supercomputing is no longer something that benefits only computer scientists but is an essential part of advancing all types of business and spurring economic development.
This was the theme of a keynote speech LSU Center for Computation & Technology Director Ed Seidel gave to the Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) at its annual meeting on Friday, Dec. 8.
Seidel's speech centered on information technology-based complex problem solving and how different types of companies can use supercomputing to improve their business.
The crowd viewed multi-dimensional models of Hurricane Katrina that researchers assembled to show wind strength, storm surge and actual path. Seidel gave this demonstration to show one way supercomputing could benefit the state by being more accurate and effective at predicting storm damage.
In order for supercomputing to advance business, the state needs high performance computing resources and people who can use this technology effectively to improve business research. Louisiana has made investments in both, which will eventually pay off in the state having one of the most sophisticated infrastructures in the nation, Seidel said.
The Louisiana Optical Network Initiative (LONI), which links six major research institutions and medical centers across the state and will connect the Southeastern U.S. region into the National Lambda Rail, an information superhighway, will play a crucial role in bringing business and researchers to Louisiana, Seidel said. Through LONI and supercomputers from around the state and nation, researchers can work collaboratively to solve complex problems.
Seidel gave some examples of non-traditional ways companies have used supercomputing to improve business. Pampers used supercomputer fluid-flow models to design a better diaper, and Pringles used an air-flow model to design a production process that resulted in fewer chips flying off the conveyor belt and being spoiled during production.
When companies are deciding where to locate, they look for areas where the most highly skilled and creative people are and also look for areas with a history of being technologically advanced and where partnerships between business and high performance computing facilities are encouraged, according to a Council on Competitiveness survey. Seidel concluded by saying that with the work currently underway in Louisiana, the state has the potential to be such a place.
A complete copy of Seidel's speech is available on the CCT Web site at http://director.cct.lsu.edu/presentations/Southern_Innovations-CABL.pdf.
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