Open Education Cup

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As the HPC industry has continued to grow and gain acceptance in mainstream commercial industry, more people are faced with the perils of efficiently architecting parallel applications.  There will always be a series of flagship universities and national laboratories that have the knowledge and means by which to further educate their staff on the Zen of computational sciences.  What about those without access to these resources?  Enter the Open Education Cup.

It used to be that the concepts of parallel processing – of dividing a computing task and running it simultaneously across several processors – were only important to supercomputing experts,” said Jan Odegard, director of Rice University’s Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology. “With the introduction of dual-core, quad-core, and soon, many-core chips, as well as the understanding that chips with hundreds of cores will be in your typical PCs within just a few years, parallel processing is suddenly something that everybody needs to be familiar with.”

The Open Education Cup is a contest chartered with jump-starting “the creation of freely available, easily understood” classroom materials about parallel computing.  Rice University is co-sponsoring the event with $500 cash prizes for the five best lessons submitted to the open-eduction site Connexions.

Reports have said over and over again that we need more and better high-performance-computing education,” said one of the contest’s judges, Dan Reed, director of scalable and multicore computing strategy at Microsoft. “Projects like this are a way to build that education from the ground up,” said Reed, who is also a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology ( PCAST ) and a co-author of PCAST’s 2007 report on the challenges faced by America’s information technology industry.

The contest will kick off during the week of the Supercomputing conference in Austin, TX.  I personally believe this is very exciting.  So many of us have been musing thoughts on creating education material easily digested by those outside the HPC norms.  I tip my hat to those affiliated with the Open Education Cup for taking the bull by the horns.  I’m personally looking forward to viewing the course submissions.

For more info on this, read the full article here or check out their website here.


  1. […] Terrence Liao emailed me with a reminder that the deadline for the Open Education Cup is drawing near The deadline (February 2, 2009) for submitting content to be included in the Open […]


  1. This is fantastic news, and kudos to Jan for getting it off the ground. I had a discussion recently with a friend about how we need more information like this available, and how computational ‘intuition’ needs to be actively developed by making it an intrinsic part of any scientific education.

    I’d babble more, but rather than babble, I have some info on similar types of projects around here somewhere… maybe I’ll try to dig it up and send it to 🙂

  2. John Leidel says

    Brian, please do send them over. We’re always interested in informing the community about new educational opportunities.

  3. OK, having glanced at the website, I still think it’s a fantastic start, but the material seems to be (by design, mind you) quite abstracted away from an actual implementation of ideas in well-written code. This is, in my opinion, another thing that is sorely needed. I’m slightly biased as I’m intending to work on just such a project quite soon, but I tend to think that it isn’t that parallel computing is conceptually hard, but rather than people don’t necessarily understand how to further their science via HPC. An application that is well-written and illustrates conceptual things such as algorithmic selection, communication vs. computation and program flexibility seems, to me, to be more directly useful with the people who wish to implement HPC solutions ‘now’.

    Maybe this is just two sides of the same coin, as certainly the more material available to help people with the concepts, the better off the HPC community is. I just think my side of the coin is shinier. 🙂