Six Purdue University faculty members, including Thomas Hacker, associate professor of computer and information technology, have won the National Science Foundation's most prestigious honor for outstanding young researchers in 2010. The Faculty Early Career Development awards range from $300,000 to $525,000 in research funding over four or five years. About 400 researchers win the awards annually. Purdue's 2010 recipients were Alice Pawley, Sanjay Rao, Thomas Hacker, Vijay Raghunathan, Luis Kruczenski and Lyudmila Slipchenko.
Hacker will develop ways to improve the efficiency and reliability of high-performance computing systems. Glitches in the hardware, software, networking and power and temperature maintenance of individual computers within a cluster lead to failures in the parallel processing necessary for high-performance computing. When these failures occur the entire application stops, leading to loss of information and increased run times and project expenses. Hacker will collect information from existing high-performance computer systems to find patterns, what triggers failures in certain computers and determine the most reliable software and hardware elements for various types of applications. He will create models that can predict which computers within the high-performance system would be likely to fail during a particular task and develop technology that allows for a more intelligent allocation of the computers within the system. By assigning the most reliable elements within a cluster of computers for a project's specific needs, failures can be reduced or avoided. Read about all of the Purdue recipients.