Attacking Challenges at High Speed

With an ever-changing technological landscape comes waves of new data waiting to be explored.

Computer scientists at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) merge high-performance computing (HPC) and data analytics, giving them the capability to process large amounts of data with unprecedented speed.

Known as High-Performance Data Analytics (HPDA), the process leverages HPC’s parallel processing to run powerful analytics software at speeds higher than a teraflop, or a trillion floating-point operations per second. Using HPC resources, which process data and execute calculations at a rate that significantly exceeds other computers, ERDC can confront seemingly unapproachable issues.

Computer scientists at ERDC’s Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) embrace this game-changing technology, diving further into accessible data, searching for critical insights, and leveraging data for critical research and development.

LaKenya Walker, a computer scientist with ITL, believes HPDA is an essential component for stronger decision making.

“As the Army and Department of Defense (DOD) modernize their existing asset portfolio across the nation, ever-changing amounts of data will be produced,” Walker said. “This data, coupled with data-driven analytic approaches such as artificial intelligence (AI) and HPC resources, could improve and accelerate decision making.”

Increased accessibility to data gives computer scientists countless opportunities to use data insights.

Dr. Alicia Ruvinsky, a research computer scientist with ITL’s Cyber Engineering and Analysis Branch/Software Engineering and Informatics Division, believes implementing HPDA gives ERDC an edge when approaching complex missions.

“There is an endless variety of possibilities for how HPDA can support ERDC, the Army, and DOD’s mission needs today,” Ruvinsky said. “The promise of this evolving discipline for supporting future missions is unimaginable.”

Projects on vehicle design and maintenance, cyber analytics, airfield quality assessment, waterways data mining, and soil classification are a few areas in which the team has applied its research and experienced a significant impact.

Walker appreciates the opportunities to work on several complex issues that position her to make a difference while adding to her skillset.

“Working in HPDA has been rewarding,” Walker said. “I love working with and learning from researchers and customers from multiple domains. Additionally, I can work on different efforts and continually learn new skills simultaneously. There are always new and interesting problems to solve.”

For Ruvinsky, engaging with colleagues who share the mission to succeed motivates her and makes her proud to be a part of the team.

“Within the areas our team has been fortunate to work, meeting the wonderful soldiers and support personnel working diligently towards mission success has been a source of inspiration for me,” Ruvinsky said. “I’m proud to be part of these research opportunities and ERDC, the Army, and the DOD family. Work in this area brings a researcher in contact with subject matter experts with incredible knowledge and awareness of domains of interest that provide valuable context to the data problem spaces relevant to HPDA and our mission.”