Computer Science

Gibbons Lecture Series: Computing outside the box

Presented in association with the NZCS

The first of four lectures on Applying Computer Power to be held on Wednesday, 27th April, 2011
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Speaker: Professor Ian Foster, University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory

When: Refreshments at 5.30pm, lecture starts at 6.00pm.
Where: University of Auckland Conference Centre, 22 Symonds St, Building/room 423-342
Sponsor: The New Zealand Computer Society
Video: streamed live

Professor Foster is Director of the Computation Institute, a joint institute of the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. Dr. Foster is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the British Computer Society. His awards include the Global Information Infrastructure (GII) Next Generation award, the British Computer Society's Lovelace Medal, R&D Magazine's Innovator of the Year. Ian received his undergraduate degree from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and a PhD from Imperial College, United Kingdom, both in computer science. His research deals with distributed, parallel, and data-intensive computing technologies, and innovative applications of those technologies to scientific problems in such domains as climate change and biomedicine. Methods and software developed under his leadership underpin many large national and international cyber infrastructures. His research resulted in the development of techniques, tools and algorithms for high-performance distributed computing and parallel computing. As a result he is sometimes called "the father of the Grid".

Synopsis: Whitehead observed that "civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them." Thanks to Moore's Law, these operations can nowadays involve increasingly complex information manipulation and computation. The outsourcing of computing via approaches such as utility computing, on-demand computing, grid computing, software as a service, and cloud computing can further enhance human capabilities, by freeing computer applications from the limiting confines of a single computer. Software that thus runs "outside the box" can be more powerful (Google, TeraGrid), dynamic (Animoto, caBIG), and collaborative (FaceBook, myExperient). It can also be cheaper, due to economies of scale in hardware and software. Simultaneously, service-oriented architectures make it easier to integrate data and software from many sources. The combination of new functionality and new economics inspires new applications, reduces barriers to entry for application providers, and in general disrupts the computing ecosystem. I discuss new applications that outside-the-box computing enables; the hardware and software architectures that make these new applications possible; and the social dimensions of outside-the-box computing.




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