Connections with the Cornell Theory Center

The CTC (, directed by CS Professor Thomas Coleman, is Cornell’s high performance computing and interdisciplinary computational-research center, serving more than 150 faculty research groups across campus and at the Weill Medical College in New York City. Through a strategic partnership with Microsoft and Intel, CTC has pioneered the use of industry standard computational resources running Windows™ to create a productive, large-scale, computing environment. CTC’s resources, which consist of a cluster complex of more than 1,500 processors, keep Cornell at the forefront of computational science and engineering. New technological advances include the integration of the database software SQL Server into complex engineering applications and the application of .NET and Web services to high-performance computing. CTC operates the first multiwall Windows/Intel computer-aided virtual environment (CAVE), providing a three-dimensional, stereoimmersive, virtual-reality environment for viewing scientific, engineering, architectural, and art applications. The CAVE enhances a variety of research projects and courses at both Cornell and Syracuse University, including an architectural course and an engineering design course that is taught in conjunction with the NASA/New York State/AT&T–sponsored Advanced Interactive Discovery Environment for the Engineering Education Project.

CTC has three core interdisciplinary research emphases: computational finance, computational biology/genomics, and computational materials. The computational finance group (http://www. is headed by CTC Director Thomas Coleman and includes CS senior research associate Yuying Li. Projects include investigating new optimization algorithms for large-scale portfolio analysis and value-at-risk calculations. Much of CTC’s computational-finance work takes place at CTC–Manhattan, which is located across from the New York Stock Exchange and is the site of an annual securities-derivatives conference.

CTC’s Computational Biology Service Unit (CBSU) (, headed by CS Professor Ron Elber, applies computational resources and expertise to a variety of applications in lifesciences, ranging from canine genetics and plant breeding to
protein-structure modeling. Each summer, one or two undergraduates are chosen from a pool of applicants for the CBSU Undergraduate Summer Internship. Through this internship, undergrads conduct research under the guidance of a faculty advisor and in collaboration with CBSU staff. One of the 2003 CBSU Internships was awarded to Keith Jamison.

The Computational Materials Institute at CTC focuses on fracture mechanics and serves as one of the test beds for the Adaptive Software Project (ASP) led by CS Professor Keshav Pingali, who is also a CTC associate director. ASP is developing software systems that can adapt to changes at the application, algorithmic, and systemic levels.

CS Professor Johannes Gehrke is also involved in interdisciplinary CTC projects. He is applying his data-mining expertise to a pilot project involving data acquisition and analysis by the Cornell operated Arecibo radiotelescope and to a genomics database that tracks pathogens.

CTC has done pioneering work in science communication, outreach, and informal education through its Virtual Worlds SciCentr educational outreach program, which consists of a series of multi-user virtual environments. This project has engaged several interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate programmers, designers, and content developers in the creation of interactive exhibits, as well as undergraduate mentors who support teams of high school student developers at remote locations.

A number of team members come from CS. Through SciCentr, CTC shares research conducted by Cornell scientists and faculty members in the fields of biotechnology, communication, fine arts, theatre arts, music, and architecture, by using current technology that engages students. CTC is also involving undergraduates in the development of interactive online lab modules focused on bioinformatics through the BioQUEST Curriculum Library.

For further information, see

CTC Director and CS Professor Thomas Coleman [right] with CTC Associate Director and CS Professor Keshav Pingali and CS Professor Johannes Gehrke