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Supercomputing gap

List reveals that some top US universities are lagging behind in embracing computational science

Charles Choi(cqchoi@nasw.org)

Many of the nation's most elite schools rank low when it comes to supercomputer-powered science because of resistance from traditionalist faculty, say computing advocates. In the latest semiannual ranking of the world's top 500 supercomputers, Cornell was the only Ivy League school to even make the list, at number 50 — beat out by Louisiana State University (LSU) at number 19, the University of Buffalo at number 25, and Florida State University at number 44.

"Computation is really at the threshold of becoming as important as experiment or theory. In some areas, this view is very controversial," said Horst Simon, director of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Center in Berkeley, Calif. "The more traditional and established a school is, the more difficult it will be to make that transition."

Supercomputers see use in every field of scientific endeavor, from modeling galactic evolution to molecular dynamics. Their multimillion-dollar...

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