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Science Case for Large-scale Simulation

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the story behind the “Science Case for Large-scale Simulation”?

The “Science Case for Large-scale Simulation” is a collection of activities initiated by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy, including: a workshop in June 2003, a report to be released by the end of July 2003, a (highly) multi-authored book to be published late 2003, a website that will updated indefinitely thereafter, and possibly a series of follow-on workshop and reports in specific scientific domains. It is intended as an open activity that includes all science mission areas of the Office of Science, and attracts the collaboration of computational scientists from other agencies and sectors with interests in common with the Office of Science.

The “Science Case for Large-scale Simulation” is a mouthful. Isn’t there a good acronym for this?

Informally, we have coined the acronym “SCaLeS” for this group of activities. However, we do not want to overshadow other ongoing programs within the Office of Science, such as the very successful inter-office “Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing” (SciDAC) program, with the appearance of another major program with its own acronym. Rather, we view the workshop and report as a logical continuation of the SciDAC thrust.

How can I help make The Case?

Please start by studying this website and study some of the antecedent reports, including the short and eminently readable SciDAC report, itself, which is linked under “archives” at this website. Then, consider coming to the workshop. The workshop is open to the community and there is no registration fee. (Regrettably, there are no funds to support travel or other costs of attendance, either.)

Is this a workshop about computational science applications?

Yes, but not only so. Just as with SciDAC, it is the applications that motivate the investment in simulation tools and techniques. However, the full range of applied mathematics and computer science required to support large-scale simulation will be considered. We expect that the ensuing report will recommend support for a broad base of scientific activity, as well as mathematics and computer science research, and development, hardware acquisition, networking, archiving, hardware and software maintenance, education and training, and so forth.

There have been a lot of reports on computational science recently, and others are being written now in other interagency committees. How do I know that this one isn’t going to gather dust on a shelf as soon as its ink starts to dry?

The authors of the report issuing from the SCaLeS activity are fully versed in various antecedent reports from the NAS, NSB, NSF, OSTP, and earlier DOE and interagency blue ribbon committees, panels, and studies and are aware of complementary activities. (In fact, the workshop will feature a plenary update from a related activity, HECRTF.) Our report intends to go beyond them in being strongly quantitative and specific about important scientific challenges and thresholds of capability required to get over them. It would not be possible to discharge our report by awarding a small subcontract to a science journalist and instructing him or her to extract the most compelling paragraphs and figures from all of the related reports. Our report will require input from scientists at the frontier of each major computational science field.

What if my field is not well represented at the SCaLeS workshop?

We intend to beat the bushes to come up with the best “stories” (projections of the benefits of the next tier of simulation capability) from as many relevant fields as we can. The proceedings of the workshop will not circumscribe the contents of the report. On the other hand, we expect that there will be enough “good stories” emerging at the workshop that we will not have to hunt far to fill out and publish a compelling volume. Each scientific community with a strong stake in the future simulation probably has its own interests in making a solid contribution to SCaLeS!