IML Partners with I-CHASS to Win Humanities Supercomputing Award

Posted on Nov 1, 2011 | No Comments

Urbana, Illinois. The Institute for Multimedia Literacy (IML) at the University of Southern California, in collaboration with the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Science (I-CHASS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign were awarded a 30,000 Service Units (SU) startup allocation grant on the Dash/Gordon supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputing Center. The new flash-based Gordon is part of the National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), a national collaboration of computing infrastructure. The IML and I-CHASS team will use Gordon to pursue interactive large scale media analytics.

In addition to the award of supercomputing time, the project was allocated 12 months of XSEDE staff technical support to maintain the necessary codes on the supercomputing infrastructure. The team also will be supported by XSEDE database experts and other consultants.

“Dash/Gordon is one of the key goals of XSEDE; this is the first data analysis-intensive platform in addition to the cycle intensive computing in the expanding portfolio available to humanities and social science researchers in the continued development of high performance computing beyond the TeraGrid,” said John Towns, principal investigator for XSEDE.

Professor and project principal investigator Virginia Kuhn, associate director of the IML, said she plans to create an archive of multimedia resources that are available for interactive query and large-scale analytics that exploits the flash memory available on Gordon.

This project also will deviate from typical supercomputing projects in that it will allow the researchers to interact with their data in real time, on demand, as opposed to a more traditional batch-oriented approach, said I-CHASS associate director Alan Craig, who is also a research scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at Illinois and project co-principal investigator.

Kevin Franklin, executive director of I-CHASS, senior research scientist at NCSA, and project co-PI, said this project will extend the ways in which researchers in humanities, arts, and social sciences interact with high-performance computing systems.

Kuhn, Craig and Franklin expressed their interest in the project with the following statement: “The world is an increasingly visually saturated place, making the need for critical attention urgent. Yet one issue that continues to plague cinema and new media scholars is the inability to index, tag, and search vast media archives, and this includes films that have been digitized, as well as emergent “born digital” media. The situation is exacerbated by the rise of video and multimedia as a common mode of authoring and the concurrent increasing complexity of the field brought about by advances in digital effects. The application of high-performance computational analytics to these digital archives can prove crucial to scholarly research, and it also has the potential to impact large-scale literacy by allowing the type of sustained critical analysis of the media in which humans are immersed.”


Scientists, engineers, social scientists, and humanities experts around the world – many of them at colleges and universities – use advanced digital resources and services every day. Things like supercomputers, collections of data, and new tools are critical to the success of those researchers, who use them to make us all healthier, safer, and better informed. XSEDE integrates these resources and services, makes them easier to use, and helps more people use them. The five-year National Science Foundation-funded XSEDE project supports 16 supercomputers and high-end visualization and data analysis resources across the country through a collaborative partnership of 17 institutions. For more information on XSEDE, visit:, October 3rd.

« Previous post:
» Next post: