Mar 29, 2012

The CS Department Celebrates Its 6th Current NSF CAREER Award Winner, Clint Whaley




Clint Whaley, an assistant professor in UTSA's Department of Computer Science has recently become a recipient of a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career Development (CAREER) award. The five-year, $583,145 grant will support Dr. Whaley’s research on “Empirical Tuning for Extreme Scale”. Including this award, Dr. Whaley has brought $3,302,311 in total research funding to UTSA since joining the department in 2005. For more information about Dr. Whaley’s research grants, see http://www.cs.utsa.edu/~whaley/research/grants.html.

The topic of the funded research is empirical tuning of computational kernels. Today, simulation and scientific computation are fundamental building blocks for most areas of science and engineering. For many of these areas, there is no such thing as enough computer power: as computer power is increased, the scientist is free to increase the complexity, and thus accuracy, of the simulation or computation. It is therefore critical that scientific computing software extract the maximal level of performance on all the various hardware used by researchers. Dr. Whaley’s ATLAS (Automatically Tuned Linear Algebra Software) autotuning framework was one of the pioneering projects that showed that empirical auto-tuning could address this vital need. Dr. Whaley’s career plan calls for performing the cutting-edge systems research necessary to extend ATLAS to address today's need for extreme-scale computation, and to extend this research for the benefit for all computational scientists by developing an empirical compilation framework capable of tuning arbitrary kernels to (almost) arbitrary hardware.

The CAREER is the NSF's most prestigious award for junior faculty and is awarded to faculty members who embody the role of teacher-scholar by integrating outstanding research with excellence as an educator within the context of their institution. CAREER awards support integrated research and educational activities that serve as foundation for a lifelong career of teaching and scholarship.

Dr. Whaley is now one of six recipients of current NSF CAREER awards at UTSA in the Department of Computer Science. In 2010, Dakai Zhu received a CAREER award to study scheduling in multicore based real-time embedded systems. In 2009, Jeffery von Ronne received a CAREER award to study the analysis of dynamically extensible software. Qing Yi received a CAREER award in 2008 to develop a multilayer code synthesis framework. In 2007, Carola Wenk received a CAREER award to study geometric shape handling. Daniel Jiménez received a CAREER award to support his research on branch prediction in 2006.

Our high number of CAREER recipients has helped the department to grow and led to more success in funding, research, and teaching. Student enrollment has increased from 600 in 2006 to 827 in 2011. Papers published per year have increased from 75 in 2006 to 134 in 2011. The CS department’s expired grants come to approximately 11 million dollars, whereas active grants total approximately 32 million dollars (for details see: http://www.cs.utsa.edu/research/grants). Thus, the CS department grows stronger each year and continues to make significant contributions towards UTSA’s tier one goal.