Taking a Virtual Turn, ModSim 2020 Focuses on the AI Era

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From the front lines of this year’s ModSim conference, Charity Plata, Computational Science Initiative, Communications, Brookhaven National Laboratory, send this report:

Recently, the ninth annual Workshop on Modeling & Simulation of Systems and Applications, known as ModSim 2020 — usually a 2.5-day event held amid the picturesque backdrop of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens in Seattle — moved online for its first-ever virtual forum. Even with the shift, the event drew in nearly 80 participants. Through its sustained commitment to expanding ModSim-related research and development, the workshop has morphed into a premier technical event for this international computing community of researchers, technologists, and program managers from government, national laboratories, academia, and industry.

In keeping with the virtual format, ModSim 2020 offered a condensed, half-day schedule that brought together experts to examine and showcase accomplishments from another year’s worth of ModSim research, including computing system architecture trends, co-design implications, and the impacts of new tools and technologies. This year, the theme focused on Modeling and Simulation in the Artificial Intelligence Era, a timely consideration that the ModSim Organizing Committee intends to extend to next year’s workshop.

“Every year, the research community and ModSim’s uses and reach grow over an increasing spectrum of technologies, systems, applications, and practices. While circumstances required a much different approach to hosting this year’s Workshop on Modeling & Simulation of Systems and Applications, we knew we had to keep the momentum going. I am glad so many people were willing to meet the challenge,” said Adolfy Hoisie, Computing for National Security Department Chair within Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Computation Science Initiative who has served as ModSim’s Organizing Committee Chair since the workshop’s inception in 2012.

As part of the virtual event, Dr. Margaret Martonosi, currently the National Science Foundation’s Assistant Director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering on leave from her position as the Hugh Trumbull Adams ’35 Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University, provided the keynote, which addressed simulator-driven research in hardware and software ecosystems. She was followed by a special interactive panel, hosted by Shekhar Borkar, a long-time member of the ModSim’s Organizing Committee currently with Qualcomm, that featured a mix of industry, government, and academic experts all looking at how artificial intelligence will impact ModSim now and in the future.

In keeping with its history, ModSim 2020 also included a showcase of contributed presentations. This year, 15 diverse speakers introduced their research at the intersections of machine learning and modeling and simulation in a rapid-fire session format, moderated by long-time ModSim committee member, Martin Schulz, Professor and Chair for Computer Architecture and Parallel Systems at the Technische Universität München (Germany).

Notably, ModSim 2020 was poised to unveil its inaugural Dr. Sudhakar Yalamanchili Award, named for the late Regents’ Professor and Joseph M. Pettit Professor in Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The award aims to recognize researchers with the most outstanding contribution to the field of computer modeling and simulation. Yalamanchili was a devoted advocate of modeling and simulation research and an active ModSim Organizing Committee member since 2012.

Because of the shift to an online event, the inaugural “Sudha Award” instead will be presented at ModSim 2021, which also marks the workshop’s tenth anniversary.

“To honor Dr. Yalamanchili’s—Sudha’s—long commitment to cultivating and expanding the ModSim research community, it just felt right to make the first award something we can share in person among the community at the workshop that started it all,” Hoisie explained. “We also intend to invite all of the contributors from this year, extending their eligibility for what we expect will become a significant award among the ModSim research community.”

For additional details, including the full agenda, speakers, and panelists, visit the Workshop on Modeling & Simulation of Systems and Applications 2020 homepage.