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Primeur weekly 2016-08-22

Special

ExaCT team shows how Legion S3D code is a tribute to co-design on the way to exascale supercomputing ...

Focus

Sunway TaihuLight's strengths and weaknesses highlighted by Jack Dongarra ...

Exascale supercomputing

Big PanDA tackles Big Data for physics and other future extreme scale scientific applications ...

Computer programming made easier ...

Quantum computing

Cryptographers from the Netherlands win 2016 Internet Defense Prize ...

Focus on Europe

STFC Daresbury Laboratory to host 2016 Hands-on Tutorial on CFD using open-source software Code_Saturne ...

Middleware

Germany joins ELIXIR ...

Columbus Collaboratory announces CognizeR, an Open Source R extension that accelerates data scientists' access to IBM Watson ...

Cycle Computing optimizes NASA tree count and climate impact research ...

GPU-accelerated computing made better with NVIDIA DCGM and PBS Professional ...

Hardware

Mellanox demonstrates accelerated NVMe over Fabrics at Intel Developers Forum ...

Nor-Tech has developed the first affordable supercomputers designed to be used in an office, rather than a data centre ...

NVIDIA CEO delivers world's first AI supercomputer in a box to OpenAI ...

AMD demonstrates breakthrough performance of next-generation Zen processor core ...

CAST and PLDA Group demonstrate x86-compliant high compression ratio GZIP acceleration on FPGA, accessible to non-FPGA experts using the QuickPlay software defined FPGA development tool ...

IBM Research - Almaden celebrates 30 years of innovation in Silicon Valley ...

Wiring reconfiguration saves millions for Trinity supercomputer ...

Cavium completes acquisition of QLogic ...

Applications

Soybean science blooms with supercomputers ...

NOAA launches America's first national water forecast model ...

Computers trounce pathologists in predicting lung cancer type, severity, researchers find ...

Star and planetary scientists get millions of hours on EU supercomputers ...

Bill Gropp named acting director of NCSA ...

Latest NERSC/Intel/Cray dungeon session yields impressive code speed-ups ...

User-friendly language for programming efficient simulations ...

New book presents how deep learning neural networks are designed ...

Liquid light switch could enable more powerful electronics ...

Energy Department to invest $16 million in computer design of materials ...

Pitt engineers receive grant to develop fast computational modelling for 3D printing ...

Environmental datasets help researchers double the number of microbial phyla known to be infected by viruses ...

Teaching machines to direct traffic through deep reinforcement learning ...

Simulations by PPPL physicists suggest that magnetic fields can calm plasma instabilities ...

New material discovery allows study of elusive Weyl fermion ...

New maths to predict dangerous hospital epidemics ...

Kx financial analytics technology tackles Big Data crop research at biotech leader Earlham Institute ...

The Cloud

New hacking technique imperceptibly changes memory virtual servers ...

Computer programming made easier


Automata Tutor, developed with NSF support, grades answers to a programming problem. Credit: ExCAPE.
15 Aug 2016 Arlington - Nobody said computer programming was easy. But maybe in the future, it could be. In order to simplify programme development, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported project called Expeditions in Computer Augmented Programme Engineering (ExCAPE), is developing technology that provides human operators with automated assistance.

"Computers have revolutionized our daily lives, and yet the way we program computers has changed little in the last several decades", stated Rajeev Alur, a professor in the department of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Rajeev Alur heads a team of researchers - representing nine leading computer science programmes in the U.S. - that collaborates on the ExCAPE project. NSF supports ExCAPE with a $10 million, five-year Expeditions in Computing award, which funds interdisciplinary research teams working to transform computing and technology.

Rajeev Alur said the team is taking on a longstanding problem: "Software development remains a tedious and error-prone activity."

Using a model of programming called automated programme synthesis, however, computers can generate pieces of code based on a user's intent, expressed using various non-code-based forms, such as examples, demonstrations or natural language commands.

"ExCAPE aims to change programming from a purely manual task to one in which a programmer and an automated programme synthesis tool can collaborate to generate software that meets its specification", Rajeev Alur stated.

By removing the need for would-be programmers to learn esoteric programming languages, the method has the potential to significantly expand the number of people engaged in programming in a variety of disciplines, from personalized education to robotics.

Emerging technology known as Software-Defined Networks (SDN) allows network operators to tailor a computer network to the traffic running on it, thereby improving efficiency. Most network operators, however, are not traditional programmers and, as a result, cannot take full advantage of all the technology offers.

To address this shortcoming, the ExCAPE team developed a tool called NetEgg that lets a network operator specify the desired functionality of a switch using examples. NetEgg then automatically generates the code needed to implement that behavior while ensuring maximal throughput for network traffic.

Now patented, NetEgg has already been tested in a classroom setting and forms the basis of an NSF I-Corps project, which will explore the product's transition to commercial deployment.

Looking at the growing area of online learning, the ExCAPE team further recognized the role that programme synthesis tools could play in generating automatic feedback for students - analyzing their solutions, grading their assignments, and providing meaningful explanations of their mistakes.

That's why the team created Automata Tutor, which has been used by more than 5,000 students from more than 10 universities around the world. Rajeev Alur and his colleagues presented the results from the early deployment of Automata Tutor in ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction and at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence.

The group has created other tools, including AutoProf, which provides feedback on introductory programming assignments in computer languages, such as Python. Another tool, CPSgrader, automatically grades laboratory courses in cyber-physical systems and provides feedback.

More broadly, the ExCAPE team was able to develop a method that formalized and standardized the core computational problem in emerging synthesis tools. Called Syntax-Guided Synthesis, the new method has allowed the team to build a number of prototype solvers over the past two years.

"This effort has been instrumental in advancing the state-of-the-art in computational approaches, and it has facilitated novel applications of program synthesis, for instance, in automatic optimization of programmes for quantum computers", Rajeev Alur stated.

The ExCAPE team's research has affected the commercial software world, too. Its notion of syntax-guided synthesis inspired Microsoft to create automated program synthesizers for its suite of software.

"At Microsoft, we have invested significantly in the field of programme synthesis, especially programming-by-examples, and with applications to end-user programming", stated Sumit Gulwani, of Microsoft Research, USA.

Microsoft started out by developing domain-specific synthesizers such as FlashFill and FlashExtract, each of which uses examples to generate custom code that improves efficiency. FlashFill, which was released as a feature of Microsoft's Excel 2013, allows data entered into one column of a worksheet table to be entered in a new table column using only a few keystrokes. FlashExtract, which was included in Microsoft's PowerShell and Operations Management Suite, extracts structured data from semi-structured log files using examples.

The technology giant has also developed a generic programming-by-example synthesizer called FlashMeta.

"All of our ongoing development of by-example synthesizers at Microsoft for various domains is now being carried out over the FlashMeta framework", Sumit Gulwani stated. "In fact, we have set up an entire research and engineering team for development of this framework, called PROSE. This has yielded one order of magnitude effectiveness in the overall development process."

In years to come, the process of using coding languages for programming may be seen as an evolutionary step in computing, just as other methods replaced the punch cards and assembly languages used to program early computers.

"This project builds on decades of foundational advances in formal methods and programming languages", stated Nina Amla, program director in the Division of Computing and Communication Foundations at NSF. "It signals a paradigm shift in the way we teach basic programming principles, and develop reliable software systems."

Source: National Science Foundation

Back to Table of contents

Primeur weekly 2016-08-22

Special

ExaCT team shows how Legion S3D code is a tribute to co-design on the way to exascale supercomputing ...

Focus

Sunway TaihuLight's strengths and weaknesses highlighted by Jack Dongarra ...

Exascale supercomputing

Big PanDA tackles Big Data for physics and other future extreme scale scientific applications ...

Computer programming made easier ...

Quantum computing

Cryptographers from the Netherlands win 2016 Internet Defense Prize ...

Focus on Europe

STFC Daresbury Laboratory to host 2016 Hands-on Tutorial on CFD using open-source software Code_Saturne ...

Middleware

Germany joins ELIXIR ...

Columbus Collaboratory announces CognizeR, an Open Source R extension that accelerates data scientists' access to IBM Watson ...

Cycle Computing optimizes NASA tree count and climate impact research ...

GPU-accelerated computing made better with NVIDIA DCGM and PBS Professional ...

Hardware

Mellanox demonstrates accelerated NVMe over Fabrics at Intel Developers Forum ...

Nor-Tech has developed the first affordable supercomputers designed to be used in an office, rather than a data centre ...

NVIDIA CEO delivers world's first AI supercomputer in a box to OpenAI ...

AMD demonstrates breakthrough performance of next-generation Zen processor core ...

CAST and PLDA Group demonstrate x86-compliant high compression ratio GZIP acceleration on FPGA, accessible to non-FPGA experts using the QuickPlay software defined FPGA development tool ...

IBM Research - Almaden celebrates 30 years of innovation in Silicon Valley ...

Wiring reconfiguration saves millions for Trinity supercomputer ...

Cavium completes acquisition of QLogic ...

Applications

Soybean science blooms with supercomputers ...

NOAA launches America's first national water forecast model ...

Computers trounce pathologists in predicting lung cancer type, severity, researchers find ...

Star and planetary scientists get millions of hours on EU supercomputers ...

Bill Gropp named acting director of NCSA ...

Latest NERSC/Intel/Cray dungeon session yields impressive code speed-ups ...

User-friendly language for programming efficient simulations ...

New book presents how deep learning neural networks are designed ...

Liquid light switch could enable more powerful electronics ...

Energy Department to invest $16 million in computer design of materials ...

Pitt engineers receive grant to develop fast computational modelling for 3D printing ...

Environmental datasets help researchers double the number of microbial phyla known to be infected by viruses ...

Teaching machines to direct traffic through deep reinforcement learning ...

Simulations by PPPL physicists suggest that magnetic fields can calm plasma instabilities ...

New material discovery allows study of elusive Weyl fermion ...

New maths to predict dangerous hospital epidemics ...

Kx financial analytics technology tackles Big Data crop research at biotech leader Earlham Institute ...

The Cloud

New hacking technique imperceptibly changes memory virtual servers ...