U-M plays leading role in NSF Regional Big Data Hub

By | General Interest, News

A “big data brain trust” has been established by the National Science Foundation to bring together industry, government and academia to accelerate this emerging field and harness it to solve some of society’s toughest problems.

The University of Michigan will play a leading role in the new Midwest Big Data Innovation Hub—one of four that NSF has set up across the nation. U-M is one of five universities that will lead the Midwest hub. Professor Brian Athey, co-director of U-M’s Michigan Institute for Data Science, will lead the effort at U-M.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of this effort, and are looking forward to establishing dynamic partnerships that will coordinate big data expertise and resources to improve the region’s quality of life,” said Athey, who is the Michael Savageau Collegiate Professor and chair of the Department of Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics in the U-M Medical School and also a professor of psychiatry and internal medicine.

These hubs aim to develop partnerships that will use big data to address region-specific problems. Athey will lead a subgroup of the Midwest Hub that will address health sciences. H.V. Jagadish, U-M professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, will lead a subgroup on transportation.

The Midwest Hub will focus its efforts in three areas:

  • Society, including smart cities and communities; network science; and business analytics
  • The natural and built world, including water, food and energy; digital agriculture; transportation; and advanced manufacturing
  • Health care and biomedical research

Other universities involved in the Midwest Hub are Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota and Iowa State. Partners include the city of Detroit, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Domino’s Pizza, TechTown Detroit, Quicken Loans and the Henry Ford Health System.

The NSF award provides $1.25 million to set up the framework for bringing partners together to develop, plan and support regional big data partnerships and activities to address regional challenges.

“The Big Data Hubs program represents a unique approach to improving the impact of data science by establishing partnerships among like-minded stakeholders,” said Jim Kurose, NSF’s head of Computer and Information Science and Engineering. “In doing so, it enables teams of data science researchers to come together with domain experts, with cities and municipalities, and with anchor institutions to establish and grow collaborations that will accelerate progress in a wide range of science and education domains with the potential for great societal benefit.”

For more information:

Midwest Big Data Hub

Michigan Institute for Data Science

Midwest Big Data Hub press release from the University of Illinois

NSF press release


New online course by Prof. Krishna Garikipati brings instruction on finite element methods to thousands of students worldwide

By | General Interest, News

The finite element method is one of the most widely used computational methods in engineering, with interest for both theoretical studies and applications across a wide range of fields. But until recently, there was no English-language online training in the finite element method. Krishna Garikipati, U-M Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Mathematics, and Associate Director for Research at the Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery and Engineering (MICDE), is working to change that.

First off, about a year ago, he posted 50 hours of lectures on the subject on Open.Michigan, which have garnered more than 100,000 views.

Then this fall, the material was organized into a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Coursera, titled “The Finite Element Method for Problems in Physics.” The class started in October, and has more than 12,000 students enrolled from more than 150 countries. Twelve percent of them already hold PhDs, and 33 percent have Masters degrees.

While Garikipati said the MOOC seemed like a potentially popular offering — because of the appeal to so many fields, such as structural mechanics, electromagnetics, nanotechnology, biomedical engineering and materials science, as well as the attraction for academia and industry — he didn’t anticipate the level of enrollment that materialized.

“It seemed an obvious thing to try,” he said. “12,000 is much more than I expected.”

The MOOC is aimed at a graduate-level audience in engineering, physics and mathematics, as well as practicing engineers interested in learning the basis of a method they may otherwise use as a black box. The class exposes students to the mathematical basis of the finite element method, its formulation, and its implementation using the open-source finite element library deal.ii.

The Coursera class  is 15 weeks long, with students watching about 3 hours of video lectures per week. Course work primarily involves short quizzes and longer computer coding assignments. Gregory Teichert, a PhD student in Garikipati’s Computational Physics research group has recorded 5 hours of tutorials to help students work on the programming assignments, which use templates derived from code developed in the Computational Physics group.

“The aim of the course is to bring students to the point where they are able to write computer code to actually solve problems with the finite element method,” Garikipati said.

The course will be available on demand after the first session is over at the end of January.

Garikipati added that the material aligns well with the education in scientific computing being offered by MICDE, the Ph.D in Scientific Computing, and the CDE Certificate.

MICDE Seminar: Jeffrey Hittinger, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, “Why Exascale Computing Will Be Slightly Less Disruptive Than the Comet that Killed the Dinosaurs” — Nov. 9

By | Educational, Events

Jeffrey Hittinger, Computational Scientist and Group Leader in the Center for Applied Scientific Computing at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will speak on campus Nov. 9 as part of the MICDE Seminar Series. His talk is titled “Why Exascale Computing Will Be Slightly Less Disruptive Than the Comet that Killed the Dinosaurs.”

Earth and Environmental Sciences lecture: Yihe Huang, Stanford University, “Characterizing Earthquakes and Fault Mechanics at Various Scales” — Nov. 10

By | Educational, Events

Rapid improvement in seismic data acquisition and computational modeling capability provides an nnprecedented opportunity to gain new insights into the physics of earthquakes. More detailed observations and more realistic models support that earthquakes interact with fault mechanics at a wide range of scales. In this talk, I will explore the features of both small and large earthquakes and investigate their physical processes. By studying M-1 to M4 earthquakes associated with fluid injection in oil and gas industry, we find fluid migration leaves significant signatures in the magnitude-frequency distributions of induced earthquakes. For M4 to M8 earthquakes, ruptures in damaged fault zones can potentially explain the discrepancy between observed and theoretically predicted rupture speeds. For M8+ earthquakes, the geometry of the subduction wedge affects whether earthquake rupture can reach the trench and cause unusually large slip at shallow depths. In each case, the integration of seismic observations and numerical models enables us to identify the fundamental processes, make physical predictions, and reduce the non-uniqueness of the interpretation. Understanding how earthquakes interact with fault mechanics will be an important step forward in developing physics-based tools for assessing earthquake hazard and reducing earthquake risk.

Ann Arbor Data Dive — Nov. 14

By | Educational, Events

The annual Ann Arbor Data Dive is scheduled for Nov. 14 at North Quad, 105 S. State St.

According to its website, the Data Dive is about empowering people to use data; connecting expderts and professionals with novices and students; and providing nonprofits and social service organizations the tools to work with data.

The daylong event is open and free to students an community members. Stories and datasets for local nonprofits are provided, and the attendees take on the rest. Data Divers are free to collaborate and work on the data in whatever way they choose. In the end, everyone has hands on experience with real data and nonprofits receive all ideas or results.


8:30am-9:00am Light breakfast and check-in
9:00am-10:00am Introductions to Data Dive and our 2015 clients
10:00am-1:00pm Work time
1:00pm-2:00pm Lunch is available
2:00pm-5:00pm Work time
5:00pm-6:00pm Wrap up data work/create presentation
6:00pm-6:30pm Snacks are available
6:30pm-7:30pm Presentations
7:30pm-9:00pm Post-Dive informal outings

For more information and to register, visit http://a2datadive.org/.

U-M to host XSEDE workshop on OpenACC — Dec. 3

By | Educational, Events

Advanced Research Computing – Technology Services (ARC-TS) will host a simulcast of the XSEDE monthly workshop on Dec. 3, on OpenACC.

OpenACC is the accepted standard using compiler directives to allow quick development of GPU capable codes using standard languages and compilers. It has been used with great success to accelerate real applications within very short development periods. This workshop assumes knowledge of either C or Fortran programming.

The workshop will be shown in 1180 Duderstadt, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 3. The workshop WILL NOT be broadcast on the internet, so attendance in person is the only way to participate.

For details on the workshop, see the course description. U-M affiliates can register at the XSEDE website. Space is limited to 40 people.