xi
Foreword
Y
          
of mankind and machine. is is not of the type usually portrayed in
science ction with horric results. Rather it is of the constructive syner-
gies that are redening civilization through the combination of human
creativity and the power of supercomputing. For tens of thousands of
years, empiricism, essentially trial and error, led us through the series
of original innovations. Only in the last 3000 years did the slow quest
to acquire knowledge through science and combine it with engineering
allow humanity to begin to master its environment through understand-
ing and technology. But in a single lifetime a third pillar of learning and
invention has been added to theory and experimentdigital modeling of
complex phenomenology due to the advent of the supercomputer. With
the supercomputer, we can understand the past, control the present, and,
in certain restrictive but important cases, predict the future. e super-
computer allows us to analyze massive data from observations and simu-
late possible future engineering feats through modeling in the abstraction
of mathematics. e litany of accomplishments through the use of super-
computers on which we rely so heavily today is vast to the point of being
mind- numbing. Yet, only through this powerful new medium of explora-
tion are we able to address such universal and fundamental questions as
climate change, controlled fusion and renewable energy, cosmology and
exoplanets, microbiology and drug design, automobile and aircra devel-
opment, new materials like graphene and carbon nanotubes, and semi-
conductor electronics including, perhaps ironically, those from which
supercomputers themselves are fabricated. Two fundamental discover-
ies that help us understand the universe in which we live are that of the
Higgs Boson particle that gives mass to matter and Dark Energy that is
accelerating the expansion of the universe rather than allowing it to slow
down. Truly how we see our reality and mold it to our needs is guided to
xii Foreword
a great degree by high-performance computing and related infrastructure
we build, and the way we apply them to the many challenges faced by
humanity.
e success of this new fulcrum of human endeavor, this crucible of
mankinds creativity, is dependent on the triad of partnership among
computing technology, modeling and analytics, and scientic knowledge
acquisition manifested as engineering innovation. Although early con-
cepts for mechanized computing were devised by such geniuses as Pascal,
Leibnitz, and Babbage, it was not until the late nineteenth century that
perhaps the rst supercomputer, the Hollerith machine, created to per-
form the 1890 U.S. census, rst demonstrated practical, indeed essential,
application. By the decade of the 1930s, electromechanical and then vac-
uum tube-based analog computers combined the three essential elements
into this partnership to solve physical systems described as sets of rst-
order dierential equations. e revolution of digital electronics from ini-
tial relays (Harvard Mk 1), to vacuum tubes (ENIAC and Whirlwind), to
transistors (IBM 7090), and to early integrated circuit technology (CRAY
1) nally concluding with multi-core and GPU ensembles spanned a per-
formance gain of 12 orders of magnitude in one lifetime, the single most
dramatic revolution of any in the history of human technology.
e book you are holding in your hands advances this story from the
realm of this o-told precession of technology steps to the real-world
impact of the supercomputer on the diversity of science, engineering,
industrial and commercial domains as well as the breadth of the planet
we inhabit. It extends our preconceived but awed idea of supercomput-
ers as the limited purview of a few rich nations to an almost universally
accessible medium of economic and cultural progress. Supercomputers
are now the principal tool of science accomplishment whether spanning
the cosmos or focusing on the subatomic. Supercomputers are now the
principal tools of engineering design from kilometer-high skyscrapers
and kilometer-long bridges to all forms of transportation to new materials
and medical treatments and far more. Supercomputers are now the prin-
cipal means of enhancing information gathering, archiving, structuring,
searching, retrieval, and presentation. Supercomputers are now enabling
the fastest growing areas of entertainment for games and movies through
visual eects. Supercomputers are the principal means of gathering new
knowledge through data mining and machine learning.
e larger lesson of this book is that supercomputers occupy the pur-
suits of many of the nations of the earth, large or small, creating an equality

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