Skip to main content

 Computer science research produces super results 

 

SPOTLIGHT

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2010
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:

Office: 724.738.4854

Cell: 724.991.8302
gordon.ovenshine@sru.edu  

 

Computer science research produces super results

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Anthony Christie, a Slippery Rock University computer science major from Somerset, said he is building the next big thing - a "poor man's supercomputer." Kelly Smith, a computer science major from Grove City, said he is working on a computer that solves puzzles "like a human."
            Welcome to the forward-thinking world of computer science student-faculty research at SRU.  Students involved in the research project said designing computers from scratch is an interesting and exhilarating experience that separates them from the mass of computer science majors and will give them a valuable employment credential.
            "This project has given me a huge head start into my career," Christie said. "Slippery Rock University has given me so many opportunities. The professors in the computer science department are the best there are. They've helped me with anything I've needed and cultivated me since I was a freshman."
            Christie is the first SRU computer science major to build a cluster computer, in the Advanced Technology and Science Hall. He linked four computers with eight processors together via high-speed Ethernet. This means he can use all the computers as if they were acting as one, creating a supercomputer that can solve problems much more quickly than if they were acting alone.
            The supercomputer is especially adept at working problems with a lot of data to crunch, such as predicting weather patterns and developing climate models, he said. Supercomputers split up data, work independently and then reassemble data at the end for a final result.
            "Let's say there was a list of 1 million random numbers, and the objective was to find the sum of those 1 million numbers," Christie said. "If we had one computer, it would go through linearly and add each number and keep a running total. Now let's assume we have 10 computers working on the problem. Using the set up I'm developing, the first computer would find the sum of the first 100,000 numbers. The second computer would find the sum of the second 100,000 numbers in the list and so forth. At the end, once each computer has solved a small part of the entire problem, the main computer takes each one of the parts and adds them together to create the final result. This cuts the processing time down exponentially significantly."
            Christie said he used commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computers for his supercomputer but is researching the feasibility of creating a supercomputer with a set of regular computers.
           "What is unique about my project is it is the first time Slippery Rock University has ever played with cluster computing at this level," Christie said. "This is the next big thing and most universities aren't yet teaching this material. It's incredibly exciting and amazing to be at the front of the line, learning and using techniques that a lot of professionals don't understand."
           
David Valentine, professor of computer science and supervisor of Christie's research, said supercomputers are also used for scientific algorithms, large simulations, complicated graphic images and games. "This is where the computer industry is going," he said.
            Smith said his research project started in "Advanced Programming Principles" taught by Deborah Whitfield, professor of computer science.  They developed methods for solving Sudoku puzzles and writing code to accomplish the task at a high rate of speed. Sudoku is a logic-based, combinatorial number placement puzzle. The objective is to fill a 9�9 grid with the numbers 1-9 in columns using each number only once per column.
         The first part of Smith's research involved writing code.
"The second part was that we wanted to build it on a mobile platform," he said. "After choosing the iPhone as my platform. I began writing the code and designing the user interface."
             Since then, Smith has focused his research on finding ways to solve Sudoku puzzles as fast as possible. "
By running tests on a database of more than 12,000 puzzles, I have been able to find patterns that I can use to classify puzzles into specific groups," Smith said. "Based on which group a puzzle is in, my computer program can choose a solve method that is faster."
              Smith said he picked the project because he has always had an interest in solving problems, and he believes enhanced problem-solving skills will be invaluable during his career.
          "Another important aspect of my project is that I have tried to develop my program so that it, in a sense, thinks like a human would when solving a Sudoku puzzle," Smith said. "By that I mean I have tried to implement solving methods that utilize the same methods you or I would use when we sit down and try to solve one of these problems. This is known as heuristics."
            Smith said he plans to present his research at the 15th annual Consortium for Computing Sciences Colleges North Eastern Conference April 16-17 in Hartford, Conn.
SRU's Symposium for Student Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity is April 8-9.
            

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Computer science research produces super results

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Anthony Christie, a Slippery Rock University computer science major from Somerset, said he is building the next big thing - a "poor man's supercomputer." Kelly Smith, a computer science major from Grove City, said he is working on a computer that solves puzzles "like a human."
            Welcome to the forward-moving world of computer science student-faculty research at SRU.  Students said designing computers from scratch is an interesting and exhilarating experience that separates them from the mass of computer science majors and will give them a valuable employment credential.
            "This project has given me a huge head start into my career," Christie said. "Slippery Rock University has given me so many opportunities. The professors in the computer science department are the best there are. They've helped me with anything I've needed and cultivated me since I was a freshman."
            Christie is the first SRU computer science major to build a "supercomputer," in Advanced Technology and Science Hall. He linked four computers with eight processors together via high-speed Ethernet. This means he can use all the computers as if they were acting as one, creating a supercomputer that can solve problems that would normally take a lot of time.
            The supercomputer is especially adept at working problems with a lot of data to crunch, such as predicting weather patterns and developing climate models, he said. Supercomputers split up data, work independently and then reassemble data the end for a final result.
            "Let's say there was a list of 1 million random numbers, and the objective was to find the sum of those 1 million numbers," Christie said. "If we had one computer, it would go through linearly and add each number and keep a running total. Now let's assume we have 10 computers working on the problem. Using the set up I am developing, the first computer would find the sum of the first 100,000 numbers. The second computer would find the sum of the second 100,000 numbers in the list and so forth. At the end, once each computer has a small part of the entire problem, the main computer takes each one of the parts and adds them together to create the final result. This cuts the processing time down exponentially."
            Christie said he used commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computers for his supercomputer but is researching the feasibility of creating a supercomputer with a set of regular computers.
           "What is unique about my project is it is the first time Slippery Rock University has ever played with cluster computing at this level," Christie said. "This is the next big thing and most universities aren't yet teaching this material. It's incredibly exciting and amazing to be at the front of the line, learning and using techniques that a lot of professionals don't understand."
           
David Valentine, professor of computer science and supervisor of Christie's research, said supercomputers are also used for science algorithms, numerical interrogation, quantum physics, drawing fractals and complicated graphic images and games. One famous supercomputer is "Deep Blue," which plays chess. Supercomputers can send a message between processors in one to five microseconds.
            "This is where the computer industry is going," he said. "I was at a computer educator's conference recently on the parallel cluster computer. This is an ongoing list of the fastest 500 computers on the planet, and that is huge bragging rights."

 

 


            Smith said his research project started in "Advanced Programming Principles" taught by Deborah Whitfield, professor of computer science.  They developed methods for solving Sudoku puzzles and writing code to accomplish the task at a high rate of speed. Sudoku is a logic-based, combinatorial number placement puzzle.
The objective is to fill a 9�9 grid with the numbers 1-9 in columns using each number only once per column.
         The first part of Smith's research involved writing code.
"The second part was that we wanted to build it on a mobile platform," he said. "After choosing the iPhone as my platform. I began writing the code and designing the user interface."
             Since then, Smith has focused his research on finding ways to solve Sudoku puzzles as fast as possible. "
By running tests on a database of more than 12,000 puzzles, I have been able to find patterns that I can use to classify puzzles into specific groups," Smith said. "Based on which group a puzzle is in, my computer program can choose a solve method that is faster."
              Smith said he picked the project because he has always had an interest in solving problems, and he believes enhanced problem-solving skills will be an invaluable during his career.
          "Another important aspect is my project is that I have tried to develop my program so that it, in a sense, thinks like a human would when solving a Sudoku puzzle," Smith said. "By that I mean I have tried to implement solving methods that utilize the same methods you or I would use when we sit down and try to solve one of these problems. This is known as heuristics."
            Smith said he plans to present his research at the 15th annual Consortium for Computing Sciences Colleges North Eastern Conference April 16-17 in Hartford, Conn.
SRU's Symposium for Student Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity is April 8-9.
            

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to view the Economic Impact Report

Click here to view the Economic Impact Report