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PhD Studentship in Computer Science - Expressing Numerical Algorithms in Performance Portable Frameworks

University of Warwick - Computer Science

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Coventry
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 17th June 2019
Closes: 1st October 2019

The High Performance and Scientific Computing Research group at the University of Warwick’s Department of Computer Science, in collaboration with IBM Research UK has a four year, fully funded PhD studentship available for the academic year starting October 2019 (or immediately after). The PhD is funded through an Industrial Cooperative Awards in Science & Technology (CASE) grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and IBM UK. 

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has been one of the most important classes of applications targeted by high-performance computing (HPC). Industries such as aerospace, nuclear power and oil and gas regularly employ these codes at scale requiring flexibility to adapt the computations to a specific problem. 

With diminishing returns from Moore’s Law in recent years, accelerators, in particular GPUs, have become an important technology to boost application performance. Accelerators can now be found in many top-tier supercomputers, including Summit (ORNL) and Sierra (LLNL) as well as Europe’s Piz Daint (ETH Zurich). The use of accelerators raises concerns in terms of programming complexity and performance portability. This is even more noticeable in CFD applications that already have large established production code bases optimized for CPUs. To address these challenges new algorithms, programming paradigms and frameworks are being actively developed in the effort to create more flexible software ecosystem of the future. 

Warwick University in collaboration with the University of Oxford, PPCU Hungary and Imperial College London have made important contributions in performance portability with domain-specific languages (DSLs). DSLs are designed to provide a high-level abstraction with a set of directives with well-defined semantics that the engineer or scientist can use to quickly define their model. They serve as a building block and hide boiler plate and implementation details for specific architectures. 

IBM Research group at Daresbury Laboratory is working with several UK industries that leverage HPC, helping them to take full advantage of constantly evolving hardware and software stacks. Based on the current limitations in computer modelling, IBM-R is interested to build a prototype implementation of a flow solver that would serve as a testbed for novel algorithms and flexible data structures. The student will be joining a motivated group of academics and practitioners in the field and through interaction with both, will undertake an exploration in both numerical methods and acquire substantial experience in advanced compiler technologies. 

This PhD research project will target the development of these algorithms and the creation of the user-friendly abstractions to demonstrate them in a DSL so as to enable wider adoption. The project involves a minimum of three months placement at IBM Research Daresbury, where the student will work with IBM-R team accessing latest software and hardware capability available at Daresbury. 

Previous experience in computational fluid dynamics and/or parallel programming using at least two of MPI, OpenMP, CUDA or OpenCL will be highly desirable. 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Dr Gihan Mudalige ( with their CV.

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