Argonne National Laboratory

MCS Division papers highlighted in DOE top 40 scientific milestones over the past 40 years

September 28, 2017

Two papers coauthored by researchers in the Mathematics and Computer Science (MCS) Division at Argonne National Laboratory have been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science to celebrate DOE’s 40th anniversary. The two papers were among 40 chosen by DOE from the past 40 years as representing a “cream-of-the-crop selection that has changed the face of science.” The MCS Division papers played a key role in the milestones for 1996 and 1997.

The 1996 paper "A high-performance, portable implementation of the MPI Message Passing Interface" by W. Gropp, E. Lusk, and A. Skjellum, described MPICH, the first full implementation of the Message Passing Interface (MPI) standard.  Using MPICH, programmers are able to develop software that can run on parallel systems of all sizes, from multicore nodes to clusters to the most powerful supercomputers. MPICH and its derivatives have become the most widely used implementations of MPI in the world. The landmark paper appeared in Parallel Computing 22, 789-828 (1996).

The 1997 paper "Efficient management of parallelism in object-oriented numerical software libraries” by S. Balay, W. D. Gropp, L. C. McInnes, and B. F. Smith, described techniques implemented in the Portable, Extendable Toolkit for Scientific Computation (PETSc) 2.0 package to conceal the complexity of parallel numerical software based on the message-passing model, while maintaining high efficiency and portability.  Arguably one on the most influential pieces of software in the history of scientific computing, PETSc has been used in applications ranging from acoustics to thermohydraulics. The paper appeared in Modern Software Tools in Scientific Computing, edited by E. Arge, A. M. Bruaset, and H. P. Langtangen, pp. 163-202 (1997).

Ewing (Rusty) Lusk and Barry Smith, both Argonne Distinguished Fellows in the MCS Division, said, “We are indeed honored by the recognition of our projects, and we gratefully acknowledge DOE for long-term support of both MPICH and PETSc.” The researchers emphasized that both the MPICH and PETSc projects have had such a strong impact in the scientific community because of the important contributions of their broader research teams, who have continued to work on the projects over the years, building on and advancing the work reported in the two papers.

On Sept. 26, Lusk and Smith each gave presentations about their team’s award-winning work as part of a panel on the 40th Anniversary of DOE-Supported Computing Technologies That Made a Difference,” held at the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee meeting in Arlington, Virginia.


For further information about the selected papers, see the DOE website