Georgia Tech to Participate for the First Time in Supercomputing Student Cluster Competition

For the first time, a team of students from Georgia Tech will participate in the annual Student Cluster Competition, at the Supercomputing Conference 2017 (SC17). The team is supported by the School of Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) and the Institute for Data Engineering and Science. The team of six is also supported via a sponsorship by IBM, Flagship, and Tech Data for a loan of the latest hardware equipment to target the best performance metrics on various tasks involved in the competition.

The Student Cluster Competition is a high-performance computing (HPC) multi-disciplinary experience integrated within the HPC community’s biggest gathering, SC'17. The event is a real-time, non-stop, 48-hour challenge that demonstrates the breadth of skills, technologies and science required to build, maintain, and utilize a computer.

Teams of six comprising undergraduate and high school students are selected via a team proposal. The groups then assemble a small cluster on the exhibit floor as they race to complete a real-world workload across a series of applications while rotating personnel to accomplish the varying tasks associated with the competition agenda.

This year’s conference takes place November 12-17 in Denver, Colorado. Georgia Tech’s team, Team Swarm, is ready to compete against the 16 others selected from across the globe, each ranging in age, experience, and nationality. The team is advised by CSE Research Scientist Oded Green alongside co-advisors, Chirag Jain, fourth-year CSE Ph.D. student, and CSE Research Technologist Will Powell.

Before 2015, the competition was mostly about throughput and judging was based primarily on how many datasets could be computed in the shortest amount of time. Since then, more elements that replicate what scientists and staff at research centers contend with every day have been included into the completion scorecard and agenda.

The two-day competition is now scored on a number of categories including the ability to describe methods used during an interview and in written format, group engagement in the conference, a poster presentation, benchmarking, reproducibility and a number of apps, as well as a surprise competition. Teams can expect more datasets than would be possible to compute within their power budget, timeframe and cloud resources. This is meant to encourage teams to make decisions based on their architecture and how to best use their resources in live time.

Accoridng to Green, students have been preparing for the competition since last January through a mix of weekly meetings, registering for advanced classes, and gaining valuable insight through hands on experience. While these students are still in their undergrad, the training and education they have received in preparation for this competition expands well beyond HPC and produces an educational foundation they will continue using for years to come.

“This may be Georgia Tech’s first year participating, but our first-rate dedication and preparation certainly makes me confident that our students will succeed far beyond the competition itself,” said Green.

This year, Team Swarm includes Petros Eskinder, a fourth year computer science major; Dezhi “Andy” Fang, a second year science major; Nick Fahrenkrog, a fourth year electrical engineering student; Manas George, a third year computer science student; David Meyer, a third year computer science major; Jessica Rosenfield, a third year computer science major; and Alok Tripathy, a second year computer science major.

“Each year, Georgia Tech’s presence at the Supercomputing Conference is felt: from papers in the main conference and workshops, to faculty participation in panels and keynotes, to students presenting at poster sessions and exhibition booths,” said Jain.

“However, up until this year, we have been absent from the Cluster Competition. Now, with our team competing, we believe Georgia Tech has officially swarmed SC17 from all fronts. It also helps that our mascot is a yellow jacket.”