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Center for Digital Innovation

Louisiana State University Professors Stephen David Beck and Thomas Sterling have received a one-million dollar grant from the U.S. government for their "Center for Digital Innovation" proposal, which furthers research in next-generation digital media and supercomputer architecture.

"The LSU Center for Digital Innovation is at the forefront of the growth in technology jobs in Louisiana," said U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.). "The funds for this project will help to build LSU's role in the development and production of digital media and keep the state on the cutting edge of research in computer science."

Beck is the Derryl & Helen Haymon Professor in the LSU School of Music, and Sterling is the Arnaud & Edwards Professor in the LSU Department of Computer Science. Both hold joint appointments with the LSU Center for Computation & Technology (CCT). They jointly developed the Center for Digital Innovation proposal to expand research initiatives both are leading to advance components of 21st century computational science technology.

Beck is also the CCT interim director and the university's lead on the Arts, Visualization, Advanced Technologies and Research (AVATAR) initiative. AVATAR was launched in 2008 to create a concentrated academic research program in digital media, including animation, video games, electronic music, and digital art. Faculty with the AVATAR initiative spent the past two years developing a program that will allow students to obtain a minor in digital media through the LSU Colleges of Art & Design and Engineering, in which they will take courses in several departments, including computer science, electrical and computer engineering, music, art, English, and mass communications.

Sterling, a former NASA and Caltech scientist who co-invented the famed Beowulf cluster, leads the Systems Science and Engineering Focus Area within CCT. He and his research team have spent the past several years working on the ParalleX project to investigate how parallel computing environments can run effectively on large-scale machines.

He is part of the National Science Foundation's Exascale Point Design Study program, the NSF HPC Task Force, the DARPA Exascale Technology and Software Studies, and the International Exascale Software Project. He also is leading LSU's collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories on the recently announced DARPA Ubiquitous High Performance Computing Program to prototype next-generation supercomputers.

Sterling's research group is conducting research to determine the execution models, application programming interfaces, system software and hardware the scientific research community will need when supercomputers move from Petascale to Exascale and become capable of running a million trillion calculations per second.

"With the additional funding our proposal has received through federal appropriations, we're able to advance the research initiatives already taking place...and catalyze efforts within the digital media group and the supercomputer architecture group to expand work in both areas and create new opportunities," Beck said.

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