FUN3D simulations (NASA)

NASA crowdsources rocket science software tune up

Even supercomputers need help sometimes.

The FUN3D software that NASA’s aviation researchers use for computational fluid dynamics modeling needs a tune up so that the supercomputer it runs on can process it more quickly. The space agency’s High Performance Fast Computing Challenge  asks qualified programmers to analyze the software’s performance bottlenecks and identify possible modifications that might lead to reducing overall computational time.

"This is the ultimate 'geek' dream assignment," said Doug Rohn, director of NASA's Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program.

The FUN3D code  dates back to the late 1980s. It's largely based on modern Fortran that runs on NASA's Pleiades supercomputer, supporting advanced aviation simulations and other applications using computational fluid dynamics.

According to the agency, existing computational fluid dynamics tools are too slow for some of the more advanced engineering simulations required to push the envelope on space travel. NASA officials are looking for a 10 to 10,000-fold performance improvement without any decrease in accuracy while utilizing the existing hardware platform.

"This challenge is specifically targeted to speed up the [computational fluid dynamics] portion of our aerospace research," said Michael Hetle, TACP program executive. "Some concepts are just so complex, it's difficult for even the fastest supercomputers to analyze these models in real time."

The competition is open to U.S. citizens over the age of 18. Four winners will share $55,000 in prize money, courtesy of sponsors HeroX and TopCoder.

The HeroX portion of the challenge seeks broad ideas and approaches for improving the performance of FUN3D. The Topcoder challenge seeks code modules that accelerate specific aspects of the FUN3D performance.

Entries are due June 29 and winners will be announced Aug. 9.

This article was first posted to FCW, a sister site to GCN.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


inside gcn

  • Robotic process automation  (Alexander Supertramp/Shutterstock.com)

    Robotic process automation delivers better results for citizens

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group