The Global Initiative to Enhance @scale and Distributed Computing and Analysis Technologies

The Global Initiative to Enhance @scale and distributed Computing and Analysis Technologies (GECAT) project is part of the National Science Foundation’s Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) program and is an extension of the NSF-funded Blue Waters project, which provides access to one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers and enables investigators to conduct breakthrough computational and big data research. GECAT is led by William Kramer, Blue Waters project director, and a research professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. John Towns, NCSA’s executive director for science and technology, is a co-principal investigator and will help connect GECAT to the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) project.

Major scientific research initiatives and enterprises are global in nature, requiring national cyberinfrastructure capabilities to not only be interoperable worldwide but to be designed to support collaborations spanning national boundaries. Collective knowledge and skills of teams is increasingly required to solve the key technical and scientific issues facing us today. In order to realize continued scientific discovery in the United States, international collaboration in interoperable forms of large-scale distributed computing, access to remote data, development of collaboration technologies and skill sets are required. Many scientific projects are international in scope, necessitating collaboration across borders, including the coordination of resources. International collaborations to construct telescopes with associated virtual observatories (such as LSST, DES and SKA), particle detectors (such as ATLAS and CMS for the Large Hadron Collider), climate (IPCC) and biological and environmental data repositories are already underway.

This GECAT supports International Virtual Research Organizations (IVROs) that promote and enable efficient collaboration and co-operation of researchers and developers in multiple countries. It aims to seed the development of new, innovative cyberinfrastructure features enabling international scientific collaboration for scientific advances. It builds on existing relationships and activities previously established by the PIs and institution. The project directly supports the participation of multiple U.S. participants (senior and junior faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students) in workshops, and to interact, communicate, and collaborate in small research and development “seed” projects with international partners from multiple countries in Europe and Asia. The project provides an annual series of forums for publicly sharing cutting-edge research, education and training experiences covering all aspects of cyberinfrastructure, including distributed data management, system resilience, performance issues with scaling, efficient mechanisms for training and support. The project focuses on the development and study of strong IVROs promoting interoperability of national cyberinfrastructures for international research. These IVROs are intended to facilitate defining and developing strategies and action plans for collaborative projects, and activities leading to the availability of high end middleware tools, and interoperability of national cyberinfrastructures for addressing and resolving grand science challenges through advancing cyberinfrastructure and computational science.

This is designated as a Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) award and is co-funded by NSF’s Office of International and Integrative Activities and the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering.