November 2008

Student’s noise paper turns heads

Calling their technical papers track “the crown jewel of the SC08 technical program,. Supercomputing Conference organizers from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Association of Computing Machinery this year selected only two papers from 277 submissions for a rare dual award nomination: “Best Student Paper” and “Best Paper.”
One of the dual honorees: “Characterizing Application Sensitivity to OS Interference using Kernel-Level Noise Injection,” by Kurt Ferreira, Ron Brightwell and Patrick Bridges.

“When this work was done, I was a master’s degree student at the University of New Mexico under Dr. Bridges,” Ferreira says. Now working for Ron Brightwell at Sandia, Ferreira thinks the paper’s strength lies in “the results and the analysis we conducted.”

It also reflects a continuing commitment to young scientists that DOE approaches with a simple idea: responsibility inspires respect.

“Kurt was responsible for the design and implementation of the noise generation framework in Catamount,” Brightwell says. “He gathered and processed all of the data and wrote the bulk of the text in the paper.”

The paper is reverberating beyond the award, presented in November at SC08 in Austin.

Allen Downey, Olin College of Engineering associate professor of computer science and former San Diego Supercomputer Center research fellow, says Ferreira has presented “a well-designed, well-executed experiment that supports a directly applicable take-home message: the effect of different noise profiles, between frequent short interruptions and less frequent long interruptions. It is a nice piece of work and a useful contribution”

The connection between an academic finding and the practical application can be “unpredictable,” Downey says. Nonetheless, he thought the UNM-Sandia study was “more likely than most to have an impact.”