Big Data vs. Fast Computation - Is HPC Facing a Game Change?

This panel discussion will address the main theme of PASC18: "Fast and Big Data, Fast and Big Computation". Are these two worlds evolving and converging together? Or is HPC facing a game-changing moment as the appetite for computation in the scientific computing community and industry is for a different type of computation than what we're used to?

The panelists will discuss the critical challenges facing key HPC application areas in the next 5-10 years, based on a mix of knowledge and speculation. We will explore whether we need to make radical changes to our practices, methods, tools, and techniques to be able to use modern resources and make faster and bigger progress on our scientific problems.

Do the current and projected developments of HPC systems and HPC software match the needs of computational scientists? Can we influence these developments in any meaningful way, or is it just a matter of adapting to the (new) hardware? Do computational scientists need to learn and apply techniques and algorithms from other areas, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning? Or is it that the other areas need to learn how to use and apply HPC to their algorithms?


  • Prof. Florina Ciorba (University of Basel, Switzerland)
  • Prof. Erik Lindhal (Stockholm University, Sweden)


Prof. Nuria Lopez (ICIQ, Spain) will bring expertise from the chemistry domain.

Prof. Matthias Scheffler (Fritz Haber Institute, Germany) will bring expertise from the physics and materials domains.

Prof. Torsten Schwede (University of Basel, Switzerland) will bring expertise from the life sciences domain.

Nuria Lopez graduated in Chemistry at the University of Barcelona, Spain in 1995, and received her PhD degree in Theoretical Chemistry at the same university in 1999. She held a postdoc position in the group of Prof. Jens K. Nørskov at the Center for Atomic-scale Materials Physics at the Technical University of Denmark, and since 2005 has led a research group focusing on the theoretical modeling of heterogeneous catalysis. She received an ERC grant in 2010 for "Bio2chem-d: Biomass to chemicals: Catalysis design from first principles for a sustainable chemical industry” and now participates in three European projects. She has been a member of the Scientific Steering Committee of PRACE since 2016.

Matthias Scheffler is director at the Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. His research focuses on the developments and use of electronic-structure theory to understand the fundamental aspects of physical and chemical properties of surfaces, interfaces, clusters, nanostructures, and bulk materials. In recent years he has made crucial contributions to advance the field of computational materials science, with a specific focus on big-data analytics. He is coordinating the European Center of Excellence for Novel Materials Discovery (NOMAD) which maintains the largest repository for computational materials science data and a materials encyclopedia. NOMAD also offers big-data tools in order to advance materials science and engineering.

Torsten Schwede is Professor for Bioinformatics at the Biozentrum and director of sciCORE, the Center for Scientific Computing, at the University of Basel. At the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB), Torsten leads the Data Coordination Centre for the Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN). The goal of SPHN is to establish nationwide interoperability of clinical, omics and other health-related data, allowing researchers in Switzerland to share data and collaborate efficiently to promote the development of personalized health in Switzerland. This includes establishing a network of secure HPC infrastructure core facilities to support biomedical research and clinical bioinformatics.