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Keynote: The Data and Compute-Driven Transformation of Modern Science

By Ed Seidel

Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology

Published on


Modern science is undergoing a profound transformation as it aims to tackle the complex problems of the 21st Century. It is becoming highly collaborative; problems as diverse as climate change, renewable energy, or the origin of gamma-ray bursts require understanding processes that no single group or community has the skills to address. At the same time, after centuries of little change, compute, data, and network environments have grown by 12 orders of magnitude in the last few decades. Cyberinfrastructure--the comprehensive set of deployable hardware, software, and algorithmic tools and environments supporting research, education, and increasingly collaboration across disciplines--is transforming all research disciplines and society itself. Motivating with examples ranging from astrophysics to emergency forecasting, I will describe new trends in science and the need, the potential, and the transformative impact of cyberinfrastructure.


Edward Seidel (born 1957) is Assistant Director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the National Science Foundation, was Director of NSF's Office of Cyberinfrastructure,[1] and continues as the Floating Point Systems Professor in Louisiana State University's Departments of Physics and Astronomy and Computer Science.[2] Seidel announced in late 2012 that he would be leaving the NSF to join the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology near Moscow, Russia.[3][4]

Before moving to NSF, Seidel was the founding director of the LSU Center for Computation & Technology, or CCT, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Seidel is a career computer scientist and physicist who has received a number of awards for his work. His most noted achievements are in the field of numerical relativity, which involves solving Einstein's equations on computers. Seidel's research groups are known for modeling black hole collisions and for work in scientific computing. Seidel is also a co-founder of the Cactus Framework.

In Louisiana, Seidel served as the first Chief Scientist for the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative, or LONI, which connects supercomputing resources throughout Louisiana to enable faster and more accurate research collaboration.

Seidel, who has a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Yale University, moved to Baton Rouge to lead the CCT in 2003. Prior to his work at CCT, he was with the Albert Einstein Institute in Potsdam, Germany and also worked as a research scientist and professor at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In November 2006, Seidel received the Sidney Fernbach Award at the Supercomputing Conference in Tampa, Florida.[5] This award, which is one of the highest honors in computing, was awarded for his achievements in numerical relativity. He was also awarded the Heinz-Billing-Preis of the Max Planck Society in 1998, and shared the Gordon Bell Prize in 2001 with colleagues.

On July 22, 2013, Dr. Seidel accepted an offer to become Director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, effective January, 2014.


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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Ed Seidel (2013), "Keynote: The Data and Compute-Driven Transformation of Modern Science,"

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


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