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NSF Awards $1.2Million to UCSD to Extend PRAGMA Program

Grant encourages international cooperation in advancing the use of grid technologies in applications

Published 08/20/2003


SAN DIEGO — The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) a grant estimated at $1.2 million to continue the initial efforts of PRAGMA, the Pacific Rim Application and Grid Middleware Assembly, for the next three years.

PRAGMA was founded as an open organization of Pacific Rim institutions whose mission is to establish sustained collaborations and to advance the use of grid technologies in applications. It now includes members from fifteen institutions and organizations in the Pacific Rim region committed to advancing the applications of grid technologies.

The organization currently includes founding and new members from fifteen leading institutions and organizations in the Pacific Rim region committed to developing grid technologies that advance applications.

This award builds upon the success of the initial NSF award that launched PRAGMA's efforts.These successes include developing and advancing the use of the grid in such areas as the control of microscopes and concurrent tomographic construction and visualization (partners UCSD, Osaka University, and National Center for High Performance Computing (NCHC)), file replication software useful in high-energy physics experiments (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), TransPAC, UCSD, and others); advanced grid scheduling to conduct a massive parameter sweep in complex molecular systems of chemical reaction of interest for drug design (Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing (APAC) at Monash University, UCSD, Kasetsart University, the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI), Cray); telescience technology applied to instrumenting the ecological environment at Fushan National Park in Taiwan; and applying Access Grid technology to enhance communications between quarantined doctors and patients during the recent SARS outbreak in Taiwan.

"PRAGMA gives member institutions an opportunity to work together to address applications and infrastructure research of common interest," said PRAGMA Program Director Manager Teri Simas of the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UCSD. "Through For example, the close interactions of all PRAGMA participants, we have created strong interactions that allowed us, as a community, to respond quickly and decisively to assist NCHC during the recent SARS crisisin Taiwan."

The award is in response to a three-year proposal submitted by Dr. Peter Arzberger and Dr. Philip Papadopoulos of SDSC/UCSD to expand the scope of PRAGMA.

"The enthusiasm and dedication of our partners led to our successes to date and demonstrated the value of continued funding for this proposal," said Arzberger, who chairs the PRAGMA Steering Committee. "In addition, the broad-based support from the staff at NSF has helped make this an excellent community effort."

"The grid will allow researchers to focus on collaborative technologies and efforts, which must be developed in an international context," said Program Manager William Y. B. Chang of NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering. "The nature of the PRAGMA project, its openness, broad geographical scope, focus on standard technologies and software, should allow the lessons learned within the targeted scientific communities to be transferred to other research users of grid technologies and infrastructure, as well as across national and political boundaries."

"This grant will enable PRAGMA to enhance grid applications and to develop grid middleware in the Pacific Rim region," said Arzberger. "Concretely, during the course of the next three years we are looking to expand the nature and scope of applications, roll out a testbed for applications, and broaden involvement by other institutions in the region to have a greater impact."

"PRAGMA focuses on real applications that are critically dependant on grid technology," said Dr. Jysoo Lee, Deputy Chair of the PRAGMA Steering Committee, and head of the Supercomputing Research Department of KISTI. "PRAGMA activities complement other projects in the Asia Pacific grid community. It is important for the grid community to share what we have learned with others."

PRAGMA also communicates and disseminates the results of these efforts. Among other activities, PRAGMA sponsors a series of member workshops, hosted by participant sites. The first four meetings were held in San Diego (SDSC/UCSD), Seoul (KISTI), Fukuoka (AIST, Osaka) in conjunction with APAN, and Melbourne (Monash University and APAC), in conjunction with the International Conference on Computational Science (ICCS 2003) Meeting. Future meetings are planned in Hsinchu, Taiwan, hosted by NCHC, in October 2003 and in Beijing, hosted by the Computer Network Information Center (CNIC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in May 2004.

"Grid-aware software and applications are having an enormous impact on the scientific community. Yet the grid itself is still too difficult to use for all but the most dedicated early adopters," said Dr. Philip Papadopoulos, co-PI of the PRAGMA awards. "PRAGMA was founded so that IT specialists and applications scientists could work together and learn from each other to make grid-enabled applications much more commonplace. It is extremely exciting and rewarding to work with our PRAGMA colleagues on both applications and enabling grid technology."

The new award (Grant No. INT-0314015) is jointly supported by four units of the National Science Foundation: the Office of International Science and Engineering, the Division of Shared Cyberinfrastructure (SCI) and Research, the Division of Advanced Networking and Research, and the Division of Biological Infrastructure. PRAGMA is supported by the National Science Foundation (Grant No. INT-0216895), the University of California, San Diego, the San Diego Supercomputer Center, the California Institute of for Telecommunications and Information Technology, and member institutions.

For more information on PRAGMA, please see http://www.pragma-grid.net/.

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