La Jolla, Calif., October 2, 2004 -- The seventh annual Pacific Rim and Grid Middleware Assembly (PRAGMA) conference celebrated the achievements of its middleware projects and the integration of new testbed resources at 10 institutions, two important steps towards PRAGMA's chief goal of constructing a viable grid.
Held on the UCSD campus from Sept. 15 through 17, PRAGMA 7 unveiled data gathered from continuously running a sample computational chemistry application over three months on 10 compute platforms in the PRAGMA testbed. "By allowing these applications to drive the underlying middleware deployment and configuration, we are learning how to share resources across international boundaries." said Mason Katz, co-chair of the Resources Working Group and co-chair of the PRAGMA 7 Workshop. "In addition, the lessons learned from this experience will help shape the construction of international production grids and will be valuable for hosts of applications."
PRAGMA 7 also highlighted the successful integration of the Grid Datafarm distributed file system (gfarm) and the Genome Annotation Pipeline (iGAP), a suite of bioinformatics software. The project not only achieves software interoperability and provides access to more users, it also illustrates the value of researchers working across disciplines and continents, which is "critical to building a community of researchers, colleagues, friends, and ultimately an extended global family," said Dr. Jysoo Lee, deputy chair, PRAGMA Steering Committee and director of the Korea Institute for Science and Technology Information Supercomputing Center.
Gfarm, developed by the Grid Technology Research Center of the National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan, was integrated with iGAP, developed at UCSD, through collaboration between application scientists and middleware developers to improve overall performance of code.
The significance of multinational participation also was demonstrated at the undergraduate level with a pilot PRAGMA program in which UCSD undergraduate students spent their summer conducting research at institutions in Japan, Taiwan, and Australia.
The students participated through Pacific Rim Undergraduate Experiences (PRIME), an NSF-supported initiative that sponsors collaborative projects overseas to enhance UCSD students' research skills and give them greater insight into the cultural environments of their host countries. This program, launched in April of this year, supported nine students, three each at the Cybermedia Center of Osaka University in Japan, the National Center for High-performance Computing in Taiwan, and Monash University in Australia.
"PRIME exemplifies the PRAGMA ideal that people drive advances in technology," said Dr. William Chang, senior program manager of the National Science Foundation "The program builds on PRAGMA's strong human network," Chang added.
Future plans for PRIME include expanding the program to include more students and additional host institutions from Asia and Australia.
Also expanding is the number of institutions participating in PRAGMA. The Korea Basic Science Institute (KBSI) and Singapore's National Grid Office joined the assembly, which now comprises 23 member institutions.
Researchers on the east side of the Pacific Rim also are taking an interest in PRAGMA. This conference's stateside setting - a departure from its usual locales in Asia - provided an opportunity for investigators from Canada, Mexico, Chile, and such US institutions as the University of Washington and the University of Michigan to participate in workshops for the first time. Altogether, more than 100 attendees from more than 35 institutions around the Pacific Rim participated.
Looking ahead, Dr. Peter Arzberger, PRAGMA principal investigator and chair of the PRAGMA Steering Committee, said PRAGMA "will continue to evolve and continue to experiment. PRAGMA will bring in new partners as needed, engage new application communities, provide a platform for middleware testing and hosting of middleware from the region and in fact the world. Moreover, PRAGMA will continue to focus on collaborations where all parties bring expertise to the table and take away benefits."
PRAGMA has been founded as an open organization in which Pacific Rim institutions will collaborate more formally to develop grid-enabled applications and will deploy the needed infrastructure throughout the Pacific Region to allow data, computing, and other resource sharing. Based on current collaborations, PRAGMA will enhance these collaborations and connections among individual investigators by promoting visiting scholars' and engineers' programs, building new collaborations, formalizing resource-sharing agreements, and continuing trans-Pacific network deployment. PRAGMA provides an opportunity for member institutions to work together to address applications and infrastructure research of common interest. PRAGMA is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the PRAGMA 7 workshop was supported by NSF, the University of California San Diego, San Diego Supercomputer Center, the California Institute for Telecommunication and Information Technology, TransPAC/Indiana University, and Cray Inc.