Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ORNL-developed technology streamlines computational science projects

17.09.2018

Since designing and launching a specialized workflow management system in 2010, a research team from the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has continuously updated the technology to help computational scientists develop software, visualize data and solve problems.

Workflow management systems allow users to prepare, produce and analyze scientific processes to help simplify complex simulations. Known as the Eclipse Integrated Computational Environment, or ICE, this particular system incorporates a comprehensive suite of scientific computing tools designed to save time and effort expended during modeling and simulation experiments.


Jay Jay Billings and Alex McCaskey observe visualizations of ICE simulation data on ORNL's Exploratory Visualization Environment for Research in Science and Technology facility.

Credit: Jason Richards/ORNL

Compiling these resources into a single platform both improves the overall user experience and expedites scientific breakthroughs. Using ICE, software developers, engineers, scientists and programmers can define problems, run simulations locally on personal computers or remotely on other systems--even supercomputers--and then analyze results and archive data. Recently, the team published an article in SoftwareX that both details the history of the system and previews the potential benefits of upcoming versions.

"What I really love about this project is making complicated computational science automatic," said Jay Jay Billings, a researcher in ORNL's Computer Science and Mathematics Division who leads the ICE development team. "Building workflow management systems and automation tools is a type of futurism, and it's challenging and rewarding to operate at the edge of what's possible."

Researchers use ICE to study topics in fields including nuclear energy, astrophysics, additive manufacturing, advanced materials, neutron science and quantum computing, answering questions such as how batteries behave and how some 3D-printed parts deform when exposed to heat.

Several factors differentiate ICE from other workflow management systems. For example, because ICE exists on an open-source software framework called the Eclipse Rich Client Platform, anyone can access, download and use it. Users also can create custom combinations of reusable resources and deploy simulation environments tailored to tackle specific research challenges.

"Eclipse ICE is an excellent example of how open-source software can be leveraged to accelerate science and discovery, especially in scientific computing," said Eclipse Foundation Executive Director Mike Milinkovich. "The Eclipse Foundation, through its community-led Science Working Group, is fostering open-source solutions for advanced research in all areas of science."

Additionally, ICE circumvents the steep and time-consuming learning curve that usually accompanies any computational science project. Although other systems require expert knowledge of the code and computer in question, ICE enables users to immediately begin facilitating their experiments, thus helping them gather data and achieve results much faster.

"We've produced a streamlined interface to computational workflows that differs from complicated systems that you have to be specifically qualified in to use properly," Billings said.

Throughout this project, Billings has also emphasized the importance of accessibility and usability to ensure that users of all ages and experience levels, including nonscientists, can use the system without prior training.

"The problem with a lot of workflow management systems and with modeling and simulation codes in general is that they are usually unusable to the lay person," Billings said. "We designed ICE to be usable and accessible so anyone can pick up an existing code and use it to address pressing computational science problems."

ICE uses the programming language Java to define workflows, whereas other systems use more obscure languages. Thus, students in grade school, high school and college have successfully run codes using ICE.

Finally, instead of relying on grid workflows--collections of orchestrated computing processes--ICE focuses on flexible modeling and simulation workflows that give users interactive control over their projects. Grid workflows are defined by strict parameters and executed without human intervention, but ICE allows users to input additional information during simulations to produce more complicated scenarios.

"In ICE you can have humans in the loop, meaning the program can stop, ask questions and receive instructions before resuming activity," Billings said. "This feature allows system users to complete more complex tasks like looping and conditional branching."

Next, the development team intends to combine the most practical aspects of ICE and other systems through workflow interoperability, a concept referring to the ability of two different systems to seamlessly communicate. Combining the best features of grid workflows with modeling and simulation workflows would allow scientists to address even greater challenges and solve scientific mysteries more efficiently.

"If I'm using ICE and someone else is using a different system, we want to be able to address problems together with our combined resources," Billings said. "With workflow interoperability, our systems would have a standard method of 'talking' to one another."

To further improve ICE's accessibility and usability, the team is also developing a cloud-based version to provide even more interactive computing services for simplifying scientific workflows.

"That's what research is--we keep figuring out the next step to understand the system better," Billings said.

###

Billings's coauthors are Andrew R. Bennett, Jordan Deyton, Kasper Gammeltoft, Dasha Gorin, Alexander J. McCaskey, Taylor Patterson, Robert Smith, Gregory R. Watson and Anna Wojtowicz, all current or former ORNL researchers; Jonah Graham of Kichwa Coders Ltd.; Hari Krishnan of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Menghan Li of Purdue University.

This project has received support from the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy, the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the ORNL Undergraduate Research Participation Program, which is sponsored by ORNL and jointly administered by ORNL and the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. The work was also supported in part by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program at ORNL. The new cloud-based tool is under development by RNET Technologies, Inc., with support from a Small Business Innovation Research award from DOE.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE's Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit https://science.energy.gov.--by Elizabeth Rosenthal

Media Contact

Scott Jones
jonesg@ornl.gov
865-241-6491

 @ORNL

http://www.ornl.gov 

Scott Jones | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://www.ornl.gov/news/ornl-developed-technology-streamlines-computational-science-projects
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.softx.2018.07.004

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Man versus machine: Can AI do science?
14.01.2020 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

nachricht Beyond 5G lab: Communication technology of the future
13.01.2020 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Miniature double glazing: Material developed which is heat-insulating and heat-conducting at the same time

Styrofoam or copper - both materials have very different properties with regard to their ability to conduct heat. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz and the University of Bayreuth have now jointly developed and characterized a novel, extremely thin and transparent material that has different thermal conduction properties depending on the direction. While it can conduct heat extremely well in one direction, it shows good thermal insulation in the other direction.

Thermal insulation and thermal conduction play a crucial role in our everyday lives - from computer processors, where it is important to dissipate heat as...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer IAF establishes an application laboratory for quantum sensors

In order to advance the transfer of research developments from the field of quantum sensor technology into industrial applications, an application laboratory is being established at Fraunhofer IAF. This will enable interested companies and especially regional SMEs and start-ups to evaluate the innovation potential of quantum sensors for their specific requirements. Both the state of Baden-Württemberg and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are supporting the four-year project with one million euros each.

The application laboratory is being set up as part of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project »QMag«, short for quantum magnetometry. In this project, researchers...

Im Focus: How Cells Assemble Their Skeleton

Researchers study the formation of microtubules

Microtubules, filamentous structures within the cell, are required for many important processes, including cell division and intracellular transport. A...

Im Focus: World Premiere in Zurich: Machine keeps human livers alive for one week outside of the body

Researchers from the University Hospital Zurich, ETH Zurich, Wyss Zurich and the University of Zurich have developed a machine that repairs injured human livers and keep them alive outside the body for one week. This breakthrough may increase the number of available organs for transplantation saving many lives of patients with severe liver diseases or cancer.

Until now, livers could be stored safely outside the body for only a few hours. With the novel perfusion technology, livers - and even injured livers - can now...

Im Focus: SuperTIGER on its second prowl -- 130,000 feet above Antarctica

A balloon-borne scientific instrument designed to study the origin of cosmic rays is taking its second turn high above the continent of Antarctica three and a half weeks after its launch.

SuperTIGER (Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder) is designed to measure the rare, heavy elements in cosmic rays that hold clues about their origins...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

„Advanced Battery Power“- Conference, Contributions are welcome!

07.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new 'cool' blue

17.01.2020 | Life Sciences

EU-project SONAR: Better batteries for electricity from renewable energy sources

17.01.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Neuromuscular organoid: It’s contracting!

17.01.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>