Two Conferences in Chicago Chaired by Illinois CS Faculty Highlight Department's Leadership in Parallel Computing

12/9/2022 Aaron Seidlitz, Illinois CS

Earlier this semester, general chairs for PACT and LCPC – Illinois CS professors Andreas Kloeckner and Lawrence Rauchwerger, respectively – organized the in-person activities in the heart of downtown Chicago.

Written by Aaron Seidlitz, Illinois CS

Illinois Computer Science helped execute two research conferences earlier this semester, increasing the department’s visibility, showcasing its impact, and affording all participants an opportunity to learn about the latest research and showcase their own work.

Both experiences were held in Chicago, through Illinois spaces with the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) and the Illini Center.

Andreas Kloeckner
Andreas Kloeckner

First was the 31st International Conference on Parallel Architectures and Compilation Techniques (PACT) from October 10-12, chaired and, in a large part, organized by, Illinois CS professor Andreas Kloeckner.

The focus for PACT lies at the intersection of classical parallel architectures and compilers that brings together researchers from architecture, compilers, programming languages, and applications to present and discuss their latest research results.” This year’s edition of PACT was the 31st of the conference series, marking its return to in-person after multiple years of virtual conferences.

With a research focus specific to code transformation for high-performance scientific computing, Kloeckner has enjoyed PACT as an outlet for engagement.

After serving as on the program committee in 2017, Kloeckner agreed to serve as general chair this year. Through the position, he said he viewed his role as an integrative one – “crafting a cohesive event from many separate functions, including registration, catering, location, finance, web presence.”

The strong attendance, with the conference booked to venue capacity, underscored the community’s interest and eagerness to get together and exchange ideas. Simultaneously, with about 120 attendees, Kloeckner believes, PACT is smaller than the largest CS conferences and thus allows for more intense engagement over the topics at-hand.

“From the outset, we planned for an in-person-only meeting, and the tremendous attendee response appeared to confirm our intuition that there was a dire need for the community to ‘get back together,’” Kloeckner said. “Additionally, DPI and the Illini Center worked well as a combined conference venue. My impression was that attendees appreciated the location, right in the heart of Chicago.

In a note from the PACT chairs – co-authored with program chair Jose Moreira, a 1995 Ph.D. graduate of Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – Kloeckner detailed a few of the conference highlights:

  • Three keynote addresses, by: Fred Chong, of the University of Chicago, on quantum computing; Massimiliano Di Ventra of the University of California San Diego, on physics-inspired models of computation; and Vijayalakshmi Srinivasan of IBM Research, on hardware and software for artificial intelligence acceleration
  • Five half-day tutorials and one full-day tutorial, on the topics of memory-centric computing, libraries for boosting application performance and productivity, frameworks for evaluating non-volatile memory solutions, domain specific compilation for computational chemistry, Silicon compilers, and programming for heterogeneous computing
Professor Lawrence Rauchwerger
Lawrence Rauchwerger

Next was the 35th International Workshop on Languages and Compilers for Parallel Computing (LCPC), which took place from October 12-14.

Since its founding in 1988, LCPC has been “a leading venue for research on parallel languages and compilers and many related topics related to parallel computing, including parallelizing compilers, parallel programming models, runtime systems, and tools with a diverse domain of application.”

This year, Illinois CS professors Lawrence Rauchwerger and Charith Mendis served as co-chairs.

Rauchwerger’s experience with LCPC dates to 1994. His advisor and Illinois CS professor David Padua asked him to join then. Rauchwerger said he has attended ever since and has published a paper with LCPC almost yearly.

He has also previously organized as general chair in 2003 and 2017, and currently serves on the LCPC steering committee.

“As an independent workshop, the goal of LCPC is to offer researchers in the area of parallel computing and compilers a venue to discuss their latest ideas without the formal, high-pressure atmosphere associated with high profile conferences,” Rauchwerger said. “LCPC prioritizes informal discussions of novel ideas, instead of focusing on well-polished and mature contributions. The atmosphere is very collegial though heated debates are common.”

In his own research, Rauchwerger's approach to auto-parallelization, thread-level speculation and parallel code development is well suited to the topics of LCPC.

Meanwhile, Mendis has a broad research interest in programming languages, compilers, and machine learning. More specifically, his interest lies in using data-driven approaches to solve hard systems optimization problems (ML for Systems), for example, in compilers, and to develop high performance systems that can aid in compute intensive machine learning tasks (Systems for ML).

Together, they designed this year’s conference with five keynote speakers – including Padua, Albert Cohen, Saman Amarasinghe, Fredrik Kjolstad, and Ponnuswamy Sadayappan – and two more invited speakers.

“Being general chair means requesting and reviewing papers. It also means inviting other researchers from the entire world to come and present their activities and opinions,” Rauchwerger said. “The proceedings are published post workshop in Springer. The steering committee includes four to five members who select the next venue and organizer usually a year in advance.

“On that note, the DPI building in Chicago is a great place for such events and we are planning to continue to take advantage of this great location in the future.”

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This story was published December 9, 2022.