The Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Melissa Smith wins NSF CAREER Award for Research

Melissa SmithClemson University Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Melissa Smith has been awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for a project focusing on the formulation of an inclusive framework for performance modeling and analysis of hybrid computing systems. This modeling framework will be useful for researchers and scientists developing, optimizing, and maintaining scientific code.

The grant, totaling over $450,000, will fund the project “CAREER: Harnessing Hybrid Computing Resources in PetaScale Computing and Beyond.” This research is expected to lead to Smith’s long-term research goal of providing performance modeling tools that are useful across the lifetime of an application, beginning with design space exploration and continuing to tuning and optimizations.

The research project includes forming a taxonomy of application and architecture characteristics through a rigorous study of application optimization and execution on multi-core and accelerator processors. The study focuses on the inter-node parallelism of the applications across a mix of heterogeneous nodes and the intra-node parallelism on the multi-paradigm nodes. These hybrid system studies clarify the application and architecture characteristics included in the coarse and fine-grained models of the hierarchical framework. The optimization methods—resource ratio optimization, load balancing and memory management—and the model framework are qualitatively assessed for other application domains not included in this study. This research will utilize the research infrastructure available not only at Clemson University, but through Smith's existing collaborations with the Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing (CHREC), OpenFPGA, Wittenberg University, the University of Tennessee, the Leadership Computing Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Nvidia, AMD, and Cray Inc.

The project will also transfer this knowledge into educational modules suitable for classroom use in the undergraduate and graduate curriculum. Smith plans to integrate the research and education activities of her undergraduate students through research opportunities at Clemson, specifically through the honors undergraduate thesis and creative inquiry programs. She hopes to attract women and minority students to her research program and intends to leverage and expand the ‘Clemson Elementary School Future Engineers’ program that she initiated in 2008. The proposed new methods for optimizing and accelerating applications on heterogeneous computing systems are expected to substantially impact the field of largescale computing beyond the demonstrated application software domains.

Before her appointment at Clemson in 2006, Smith was a research associate at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for 12 years. Her current research activities focus on the applied use of emerging heterogeneous computing architectures. Her research group is interested in the performance computer architectures for various application domains including scientific applications (modeling and simulation), high-performance or real-time embedded applications, and medical and image processing.

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of the early career-development activities of teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization. The award description states the activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions to research and education.