Illinois Computing helped implement two research conferences earlier this semester, increasing the department’s visibility, showing its impact, and giving all participants an opportunity to learn about the latest research and showcase their own work.
Both experiences were held in Chicago, through Illinois spaces with the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) and the Illini Center.
First was the 31st International Conference on Parallel Architectures and Compilation Techniques (PACT) from October 10 to 12, chaired and, in large part, organized by Illinois CS professor Andreas Kloeckner.
The focus for PACT lies at the intersection of classical parallel architectures and compilers, bringing together researchers from architecture, compilers, programming languages and applications to present and discuss their latest research results. This year’s edition of PACT was the 31st of the conference series, marking its return to in-person after several years of virtual conferences.
With a research focus specific to code transformation for high-performance scientific computing, Kloeckner enjoyed PACT as an outlet for engagement.
After serving as on the program committee in 2017, Kloeckner has agreed to serve as general chairman this year. Through the position, he said he views his role as an integrated one — “creating a cohesive event out of many separate functions, including registration, catering, venue, finance, web presence.”
The strong attendance, with the conference booked to venue capacity, underlined the interest and enthusiasm of the community to gather and exchange ideas. At the same time, with around 120 attendees, Kloeckner believes, PACT is smaller than the largest CS conferences and thus allows for a more intense engagement on the topics at hand.
“From the beginning, we planned an in-person meeting, and the overwhelming response from the attendees seemed to confirm our hunch that there was an urgent need for the community to ‘get back together,'” Kloeckner said. “Additionally, DPI and the Illini Center worked well as a combined conference venue. My impression was that attendees appreciated the location, right in the heart of Chicago.
In a memo from the PACT chairs – co-authored with program chair Jose Moreira, Ph.D. from 1995. a graduate of Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – Kloeckner detailed some of the conference highlights:
- Three keynote lectures, by: Fred Chong, from the University of Chicago, on quantum computing; Massimiliano Di Ventra of the University of California San Diego, on physics-inspired models of computing; and Vijayalakshmi Srinivasan of IBM Research, on hardware and software for accelerating artificial intelligence
- Five half-day tutorials and one full-day tutorial, on the topics of memory-centric computing, libraries to boost application performance and productivity, frameworks for evaluating non-volatile memory solutions, domain-specific compilation for computational chemistry, silicon compilers and programming. for heterogeneous computing
Next was the 35th International Workshop on Languages and Compilers for Parallel Computing (LCPC), which took place from October 12th to 14th.
Since its founding in 1988, LCPC has been “a leading site for research on parallel languages and compilers and many related topics related to parallel computing, including parallelizing compilers, parallel programming models, runtime systems, and tools with a diverse domain of application.”
This year, Illinois CS professor Lawrence Rauchwerger and Charith Mendis served as co-chairs.
Rauchwerger’s experience with LCPC dates back to 1994. His advisor and Illinois CS professor David Padua asked him to join then. Rauchwerger said he has attended since then and published a paper with LCPC almost every year.
He also previously organized as general president in 2003 and 2017, and currently serves on the LCPC steering committee.
“As an independent workshop, the goal of LCPC is to offer researchers in the area of parallel computing and compilers a venue to discuss their latest ideas without the formal, high-pressure atmosphere associated with high-profile conferences,” said Rauchwerger. “LCPC prioritizes informal discussions of new ideas, rather than focusing on well-polished and mature contributions. The atmosphere is very collegial although heated debates are common.”
In his own research, Rauchwerger’s approach to auto-parallelization, thread-level speculation, and parallel code development is well suited to the LCPC topics.
Meanwhile, Mendis has a broad research interest in programming languages, compilers and machine learning. More specifically, his interest lies in using data-driven approaches to solve difficult system optimization problems (ML for Systems), for example, in compilers, and to develop high-performance systems that can help in computing intensive machine learning tasks (Systems for ML) .
Together, they designed this year’s conference with five keynote speakers – including Padova, Albert Cohen, Saman Amarasinghe, Fredrik Kjolstad, and Ponnuswamy Sadayappan – and two additional guest speakers.
“Being general chair means soliciting and reviewing papers. It also means inviting other researchers from around the world to come and present their activities and opinions,” said Rauchwerger. “The proceedings are published after a workshop in Springer. The steering committee includes four to five members who choose the next venue and organizer usually a year in advance.
“On that note, the DPI building in Chicago is a great location for events like this and we plan to continue to utilize this great location in the future.”