August 25, 2016

Computer science team to solve large-scale network problems

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University computer science professor Alex Pothen and his research team are working on solving problems associated with massive networks with billions of nodes and links, implications of which could be felt in areas ranging from medical research to consumer issues

The team has been selected for funding for two years as a Parallel Computing Center by Intel Corp. to design new algorithms and software for massive networks.

“The good news about this gift from Intel is not only the recurring funding, which will be very helpful, but we will have access to the new processors that Intel develops every year and its supercomputers. That will help us in our development of algorithms and software immensely,” Pothen said.

Current state-of-the-art algorithms can take several days to process if the processing is even feasible at all. Pothen and his group will work on solutions to decrease the time to a few hours or less.

An example of an application of this work comes from the medical field. Every year the United States produces about 19,000 medical school graduates, who must serve three-year residencies before they can practice. They rank the hospitals to which they’d like to go, and the hospitals rate them as well. These algorithms could match the medical students with hospitals so that the students get their best possible choices. Similar problems arise in matching organ donors to recipients, in matching advertisers to search results on the web, etc.

“We will use extreme-scale computers, consisting of tens of thousands of the latest processors available at Intel and at the U.S. Department of Energy Laboratories,” Pothen said. “We will work on matching and edge cover problems in algorithmic computer science, and they have applications in many fields such as network science, computational science and engineering, and data science.”

Pothen will work with doctoral student Arif Khan, Pradeep Dubey and Mostofa Ali Patwary  (Intel Parallel Computing Lab), and Mahantesh Halappanavar (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory). This November, Pothen and his fellow researchers will present their results at the ACM/IEEE Supercomputing conference (SC16) in Salt Lake City. 

Source: Alex Pothen, 765-496-9376,

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