History of Current Challenges in Computing

Current Challenges in Computing was created to spur discussion about how to advance the state of the art by exploiting current and anticipated computing capability. Each year we select a topic and a wide-ranging group of experts in that community. Here are the topics we've explored in previous conferences, we look forward to many more years of fascinating disucssion.


The primary goal of our inaugural conference was to look at how high performance computing is being used in the climate modeling community, including what's being tried, what does and doesn't work, and where the industry is heading. Discussion topics regarding specific computing challenges associated with climate modeling included particularly clouds, multi-model coupling and uncertainty quantification.
Featured speakers: James J. Hack (Oak Ridge National Laboratory), David A. Randall (Colorado State University), William D. Collins (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), Benjamin D. Santer (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), Jeffrey T. Kiehl (National Center for Atmospheric Research), Philip W. Jones (Los Alamos National Laboratory), Paul N. Edwards (University of Michigan)


Discussion topics included putting high performance computing into context, the computational challenges in electric power systems and the evolving "smart grid", Stochastic energy optimization and planning challenges, and competitive energy markets.
Featured speakers: Richard P. O’Neill (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), John Grosh (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), Jonathan G. Koomey (Stanford University), Brian P. Gaucher (IBM), Warren B. Powell (Princeton University) Hung-po Chao (Independent System Operation New England Inc.), Jean-Paul Watson (Sandia National Laboratories)


Discussions examined how social networks and online communities shape human behavior. Additional topics included models, methods and analysis of social networks, behavioral science, network advantage and human agency in online communities, graph spectra and community structure of networks, measuring and propagating influence in networks.
Featured speakers: Prabhakar Raghavan (Google), Alex “Sandy” Pentland (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Ronald Burt (University of Chicago), Mark Newman (University of Michigan), Michael Macy (Cornell University), Michael Mahoney (Stanford University), Sinan Aral (New York University)


Discussions ranged from Virtual Physiological Human (VPH)/Physiome Activities, to knowledge-based analysis at genomic scale, as well as the challenges and future state of computing in drug safety and testing, measuring and modeling variation in cell death networks, and handling the volume and variety of data generated by transdisciplinary research.
Featured speakers: Peter Hunter (University of Auckland), Lawrence Hunter (University of Colorado Health Sciences Center), Sian Ratcliffe (Pfizer), Jeffrey Saltzman (AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals), Sean Hanlon (National Cancer Institute), Ellen Kuhl (Stanford University), Peter Sorger (Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology)


Discussions explored the application, benefit and limitations of HPC-supported decision analysis in areas such as finance/insurance, medicine, national security and environmental management. Additional topics of interest included: large-scale optimization utilizing Big Data, game theoretic approaches, decision tree analyses, Bayesian approaches, predictive models, and analyses under conditions of deep uncertainty.
Featured speakers: Eric Horvitz (Microsoft Research), Vicki Bier (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Alice Smith (Auburn University), Rob Lempert (Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition; RAND Graduate School), Charlie Catlett (University of Chicago), Patrick Reed (Cornell University), Robert High (IBM Watson)


Topics of focus included additive manufacturing, process control, “digital thread” and smart manufacturing, novel material design, and certification and qualification. Additional topics of interest included: converging trends across industries and consider opportunities—and barriers—for high performance computing (HPC) to advance common issues across multiple industry sectors.
Featured speakers: Mark Johnson (Advanced Manufacturing Office, U.S. Department of Energy), Tom Lange (Technology Optimization and Management, LLC), Brian Rosenberger (Lockheed Martin), William King (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Dawn Bardot (Modeling & Simulation Medical Device & Innovation Consortium), Jian Cao (Northwestern University), Francesco Iorio (Autodesk, Inc.)