Argonne National Laboratory

Chicago-area SIAM student chapters visit Argonne

May 10, 2013

Forty undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdocs from Chicago-area SIAM chapters visited Argonne’s Mathematics and Computer Science (MCS) Division on April 12 for a look into some of the exciting applied mathematics research being performed at the laboratory.

The morning included ten “research vignettes” presented by MCS staff.

  • Scalable power grid dynamics simulation (Shrirang Abhyankar)
  • Data science for scientific computing: Learning and intelligent optimization (Prasanna Balaprakash) 
  • Parallel multigrid solvers (Jed Brown) 
  • Large-scale Gaussian process calculation without matrix factorizations (Jie Chen)
  • Scaling computational fluid dynamics beyond a million cores (Paul Fischer)
  • High resolution, non-oscillatory schemes for hyperbolic PDEs (Debo Ghosh)
  • PDE-constrained optimization under uncertainty (Drew Kouri)
  • Algorithmic differentiation (Sri Hari Krishna Narayanan)
  • Phase-field modeling for heterogeneous materials (Lei Wang)
  • Stochastic optimization for complex network systems (Victor Zavala)

“We chose these brief presentations to give young scholars a flavor of the problems we are investigating – from new analytical and numerical methods, to cutting-edge software, to practical applications,” said Stefan Wild, assistant computational mathematician in MCS and co-organizer of the visit.

During lunch, the students split into groups based on research interests – for example, optimization, linear algebra, or partial differential equations – and met with Argonne researchers to discuss career opportunities and projects. This gave the students time to ask about new avenues of research open in applied mathematics and computational science.

A highlight of the afternoon was tours of two forefront research facilities at the laboratory: the Advanced Photon Source and the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, home to several of the fastest supercomputers in the world. Illinois Institute of Technology SIAM Chapter vice-president Barret Leslie said, “Everyone I meet from Argonne always says the same thing: ‘I just planned on a short stay but, I liked it so much I ended up staying.’ After touring the facility and meeting the folks who work there, I can see why they stay.”

At the conclusion of the visit, Sven Leyffer, SIAM vice-president for programs and Argonne senior computational mathematician emphasized the role that students play in a society that includes more than 13,000 applied mathematicians worldwide. He said that SIAM supports various student activities, including visits to local research institutions, career fairs, and travel awards to a range of conferences.

Leyffer also encouraged the students to apply for internships at Argonne. He highlighted the fact that Argonne recently was named among the top 5 “best places for postdocs to work.”

Noting that the attendees for this one-day visit were from three local chapters – the Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago – Leyffer added: “We are looking forward to the 2014 SIAM Annual Meeting, which will be in Chicago. We hope that your chapters will join Argonne in providing lively input to the meeting.”