From drug discovery to improved safety in our cars, understanding our universe and ourselves at the molecular level, advanced computing impacts everyone’s daily lives and work. And connecting these machines with high-performance networking is just as important. It’s the networks connecting these supercomputers that allow researchers access to data and support communities regardless of their geography.

The latest advancements in supercomputing and the networks that connect them were on full display at the recent Supercomputing (SC) International Conference for High-Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis. SC brings together scientists, engineers, researchers, educators, programmers, system administrators, and developers, and highlights extraordinary advances leveraging high-performance computing. 

After taking in all the amazing and futuristic research presented at the conference, three key trends that will change our daily lives in the very near future were predominant.


1) Precision Medicine

Diagnosis and treatment today is based on clinical tests and generalized knowledge, not specific individual lifestyle or cultural information. Health is about more than what happens to us clinically, but is also affected by how we live. Harnessing the power of High-Performance Computing (HPC) to analyze volumes of complex genomic and other biologic datasets is a budding practice. 

Precision medicine takes this to the next level by including non-clinical factors into a data set and applying cognitive computing to look at a whole in diagnosis, treatment, and outcome factor prediction. Cognitive systems can be “trained” by a variety of inputs from various institutions and studies. As we amass more data and look at it as a whole, we can start identifying new patterns and risk factors that enable earlier intervention and more successful outcomes. By consolidating disparate collections of data points across a vast inter-connected global network of researchers and care providers and utilizing HPC to enable the processing of these growing datasets, cognitive computing can work alongside clinicians who ask the right questions and ultimately improve individual diagnosis and treatment.


2) Advanced Computing for Social Change

I, for one, never used to think of high-performance computing as a tool to impact social change. However, researchers are leveraging HPC to help combine volumes of data and apply complex statistical calculations to determine predictive models to apply to societal and humanitarian challenges.

Advanced computing is being applied to social issues from risk terrain modeling to predicting violent uprisings and terrorist attacks, to determining influencing factors and programs that can be implemented to help inner-city children successfully graduate high school and go on to college.


3) Programmable Data Analytics

While SDN was the buzz at last year’s SC conference, this year, leveraging SDN to enable holistic network data collection and analysis was a prevalent topic. Collection and assessment of network data today requires a fair amount of human data collection across multiple disparate systems, the combination of this data and assessment to come to a human determined recommended network response.  

New commercialized SDN solutions are gearing up to enable collection, combination, and assessment of network information to enable automated, rule-based responses to common network incidents, such as bursts in capacity demand. Ciena’s Blue Planet will enable programmable analytics solutions that can acquire network information from various vendors across various network domains, and provide a single pane of glass view into network statistics and respond – based on programmable rules – automatically to potentially impactful situations before they affect end-customers.

In the near future, the incorporation of machine learning will enable tools that not only collect and combine various data sources across the network, but also learn and evolve to better assess potential traffic interruptions, data breaches, or capacity challenges and automatically respond to address such incidents. Furthermore, the addition of cognitive computing will enable the inclusion of customer usage patterns and business trend information to into these automated incident response decisions. As a result, computers increasingly take on the routine and humans can focus on posing tougher questions, forming hypotheses, and spending their time on higher-level management and operations activities.


Machines are not yet poised to take over the world. Rather, humans are leveraging machines to help us collect, transport and make sense of the exabytes of exiting unstructured data and utilize the mindboggling 2.5 billion gigabytes of data that are created every day.  Advanced computing connected by an array of high performance networks is used every day to perform large-scale computations, pattern recognition, and statistical reasoning, freeing up humans to apply higher functions of common sense and value judgments.

Humans are driven by discovery. HPC helps us to understand ourselves, our world, and our universe.