News Archive

Innovative Grid Applications Highlighted at Fourth PRAGMA Workshop in Melbourne, Australia

Published 06/16/2003

Melbourne, Australia - Researchers from across the Pacific Rim met June 5-6 for the Fourth PRAGMA Workshop, the semi-annual gathering for members of the Pacific Rim Application and Grid Middleware Assembly. More than 70 application and grid experts from 13 Pacific Rim member organizations continued their efforts to build sustained collaborations and to demonstrate the advancing technology of grid computing via scientific applications.

Hosted by Monash University and the Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing (APAC), the workshop was chaired by Professor David Abramson of Monash University in Melbourne, and co-chaired by Dr. Fang-Pang Lin of the National Center for High Performance Computing (NCHC) in Hsinchu, Taiwan.

PRAGMA 4 showcased a comprehensive agenda of distinguished speakers, real-time demonstrations, and working group activities. One highlight was a tutorial that featured the locally developed Nimrod/G distributed parametric modeling system, a project supported by the Distributed Systems Technology Center (DSTC), GrangeNet, and Monash University. The tutorial demonstrated Nimrod's ease of use, and launched a GAMESS quantum chemistry application. The tutorial was conducted by Abramson and by Kim Baldridge and Wibke Sudholt of the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and the National Biomedical Computation Resource (NBCR). Sudholt participated remotely from San Diego.

A demonstration of the Ninf-G software tool, which allows users to access hardware, software, and scientific data on the grid, featured a climate simulation that utilized 185 processors contributed by PRAGMA and Asia-Pacific Grid (ApGrid) member organizations. Other demonstrations featured Gfarm, a software package for constructing exabyte-scale (trillion-gigabyte) parallel filesystems suitable for astronomical data analysis, and Gridbus, an open-source cluster and grid middleware technology to manage distributed computation, data, and applications, which was put to use on a high-energy physics code package.

"Taken collectively, these demonstrations show the power of the grid, but they also show us that the grid is not yet easy to use," said Philip Papadopoulos of SDSC. "It is precisely for this reason that PRAGMA was started, to build teams of researchers and an expertise base to make the grid fulfill its promise."

Fang-Pang Lin and others from NCHC described the ongoing efforts to apply Access Grid Technology to assist SARS-quarantined medical personnel in Taiwan. This international effort, coordinated by PRAGMA, has helped to solidify international collaborations within the Access Grid community. NCHC used Access Grid and Data Grid technologies to quickly deploy a network to connect hospitals in Taiwan with medical experts outside the quarantined areas. "We are delighted by the support we have gotten via PRAGMA, and pray that the end is in sight," Lin said. (For information on NCHC's SARS Combat Task Force, see

John O'Callaghan, Executive Director of APAC and a member of PRAGMA's steering committee, indicated that the workshop was a wonderful opportunity for exposing international researchers to grid projects in Australia. "The workshop has strengthened collaboration between Australian researchers and other PRAGMA members," he said.

O'Callaghan described applications supported by GrangeNet, a multi-gigabit Australian network linked to overseas research and education networks. These included distributed simulators to model earth processes and meteorological/air pollution processes, a project to provide broadband access to unique, high-quality film and video content in Australian archives, and projects to archive, retrieve, and access data from optical and radio telescopes, from a Japanese particle accelerator, and from microscopes at four Australian universities.

On the second day of the meeting, PRAGMA's Telescience, Biosciences, Data Grid, and Resources working groups reviewed plans for the coming year. In addition, a new Middleware working group was organized by Andrew Wendelborn of Adelaide University to focus on the software that sets up connections between applications and resources. The groups plan to demonstrate their capabilities at the SC2003 high-performance computing and networking conference, to be held in Phoenix, Arizona this November.

"It is important that we share with others in the grid community what we have learned, via concrete demonstrations of applications on our testbed," said Dr. Jysoo Lee, deputy chair of the PRAGMA steering committee and head of the Supercomputing Research Department of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI).

"Collectively, the PRAGMA team has set out an ambitious set of plans for the next several months," said Peter Arzberger, chair of the PRAGMA steering committee. "By working together, we will be able to achieve our goals."

The PRAGMA 5 Workshop will be hosted by NCHC in Hsinchu on October 22-23, 2003.

PRAGMA is supported by the National Science Foundation, SDSC, the University of California, San Diego, the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology, and member institutions. For more information regarding PRAGMA, see For a detailed report on the PRAGMA 4 Workshop, see

Media Contact: Greg Lund, SDSC Communications, 858-534-5143,
Technical Contact: Teri Simas, PRAGMA Program Manager, 858-534-5034,