Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Teaching Distributed Computing with Work Queue

The undergraduate Programming Paradigms class at the University of Notre Dame introduces undergraduate students to a variety of parallel and distributed programming models. Work Queue is used as an example of large scale distributed computing. Using a solar system simulator developed in a previous assignment, students were tasked with splitting a trajectory of the planets' positions into individual frames, populating POVRay scene files, rendering the scenes in a distributed manner using Work Queue, and combining the frames into a movie using ImageMagick. Since the students had used Python extensively, they found it very easy to write a single Work Queue master using the Python bindings. Several of the students went above and beyond the requirements by adding textures to the planets and animating the movement of the camera. The students really enjoyed the assignment while learning about the advantages and pitfalls of distributed computing.

- Ronald J. Nowling and Jesus A. Izaguirre, University of Notre Dame

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Scaling Up Comparative Genomics with Makeflow

The CoGe Comparative Genomics Portal provides on-the-fly genomic analysis and comparative tools for nearly 20,000 genomes from 15,000 organisms and has become more and more popular as genome sequence has become less expensive. The portal runs about 10,000 workflows a month and needed a robust solution for distributed computing of various workflows that range from simple to complex. Using Makeflow, the CoGe team is modularizing the workflows being run through CoGe, has early wins in delivering value to the system by easily monitoring/restarting workflows, and is now starting to work on distributing computation across multiple types of compute resources.

Eric Lyons, University of Arizona