skip to main content

Edgar Solomonik Named CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award Finalist

12/10/2009 10:17:00 AM

University of Illinois computer science student Edgar Solomonik has been named a Finalist for the prestigious Computing Research Association (CRA) Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award for 2010.  The senior, in only his second year of study, was selected for the high quality and innovative research he is pursing as an undergraduate in Professor Sanjay Kale’s Parallel Programming Laboratory

Illinois computer science student Edgar Solomonik
Illinois computer science student Edgar Solomonik
Illinois computer science student Edgar Solomonik

The award "recognizes undergraduate students in North American universities who show outstanding research potential in an area of computing research," according to the CRA Web site.

Edgar’s research interests are in cross-disciplinary work in parallel and high performance computing.  His current activities include improving a highly scalable parallel sorting algorithm, and developing a new benchmark for molecular dynamics.  He is also working on a new collective communication strategy inside the parallel programming system Charm++, as well as helping develop a new parallel decomposition scheme for ChaNGa, a computational astronomy code.

Scaling is a commonly used procedure with a wide breadth of applications in the high performance computing field.  Solomonik is the creator of a scalable extension of the Histogram Sorting method, making fundamental modifications to the original algorithm in order to minimize message contention and exploit overlap. His paper on the work, "Highly Scalable Parallel Sorting," was accepted for the 2010 IPDPS (IEEE International Parallel and Distributed Processing Symposium).

“Efficiently scaling parallel sorting on machines of this magnitude is inhibited by the communication-intensive problem of migrating large amounts of data between processors,” said Solomonik.” The challenge is to design a highly scalable sorting algorithm that uses minimal communication, maximizes overlap between computation and communication, and uses memory efficiently.”

According to Kale, the cross-disciplinary work that Solomonik conducts is important to many of the parallel and high performance computing advances the Illinois Parallel Programming Lab is making.  Solomonik’s contributions are important to Charm++, a machine-independent parallel programming system developed at Illinois; NAMD, a parallel, object-oriented molecular dynamics code designed for high-performance simulation of large biomolecular systems; and a computational astronomy code called ChaNGa.

"Edgar is an exceptional student," Sanjay Kale, the head of PPL, stated. "It is one thing to finish his BS in two years, but to do the level of publishable research along with that is truly remarkable. He is a valuable member of my research group. I think he is a budding star." 

Solomonik won the CS department Undergraduate Research Award last year as a freshman for an earlier version of his work on the Highly Scalable Parallel Sorting.

Solomonik’s honor is the second time in the last two years that an undergraduate student from the Parallel Programming Lab has been recognized by the CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Research program, and the fourth for an Illinois computer science student in the past 3 years