Toby Isaac Joins CSE Faculty

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Computing welcomes Tobin “Toby” Isaac to the School of Computational Science and Engineering as the newest assistant professor. He is bringing his knowledge and focus on applied math and numerical analysis, computer science, data structures and software, and applications to the School. 

Isaac’s main research area is high performance computing (HPC). In this arena, he aims to advance the ability to computationally simulate large, complex physical systems in ways that are efficient and scalable.

“Many important unanswered questions – about climate, geology, biology, or man-made systems – are questions about complex physical systems that can't be answered from the data alone or from theory alone.  So, I also work on tools that try to answers these questions and justify our confidence in them – like Bayesian methods,” said Isaac. 

Of course, Isaac can’t possibly tackle all of this himself. So, part of his role at Georgia Tech is to convince students that this research field is a worthy pursuit. He equips them with the tools and know-how needed to help him, but he also ensures that they make their own lasting contributions, as well.

Along with mentoring students, Isaac wants to make his work accessible through software libraries. He believes that well-designed software in his research is a better way to transmit ideas than just simply putting them on a page.

“I try to think about aspects of scientific software design that affect portability and reuse,” said Isaac. He strives to develop methods and software that enable scientists to push the envelope on what’s possible for making quantifiable predictions about large-scale, complex physical systems.

While increasing efficiency in the transfer of data and expanding computational abilities are  large portions of Isaac’s toolkit his interests outside of HPC research include parallel algorithms for mesh refinement and distribution.

Isaac received his Ph.D. in Computational Science, Engineering and Mathematics from the University of Texas, Austin in August 2015. He was also a postdoctoral scholar at the Computation Institute of the University of Chicago. Before joining Georgia Tech, Isaac was the recipient of several awards and honors. These include winning the SIAM/Supercomputing Early Career Prize in 2016 and winning the ICES Outstanding Dissertation Award the same year for his work, Scalable, Adaptive Methods for Forward and Inverse Problems in Continental-Scale Ice Sheet Modeling. Isaac belongs to the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, as well as the American Geophysical Union and the Association for Computing Machinery.

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