This last week, I had the privilege to attend the biggest annual supercomputing conference in north America, SC. I was one of about ten students studying high performance computing (and related fields) who were funded to go by a travel grant from the HPC topical group of the Association for Computing Machinery. It was a blast, and I learned a ton. I haven’t had much time to write up any science results, so I figured I’d give a few brief highlights of the conference, if I could. Vast Scale SC15 was by far the biggest conference I’ve ever attended.
Look at the picture above. Believe it or not, that person is operating an extremely sophisticated mechanical calculator, capable of generating tables that evaluate functions called “polynomials.” Although a graphing calculator can do that, a pocket calculator certainly can’t. The device above is a mechanical purpose-built computer! This article is the next installment of my series on computing. In the previous parts, we learned about Boolean logic, the language computers think in. We then learned how to implement this logic electronically and, using our newfound understanding of electronics, how to make computer memory so that computers can record results