Jun 21 2016

Ontario students diTHINK outside the box

The 2016 diTHINK conference featured fascinating speakers, inspiring presentations and a series of breakout sessions that demanded out-of-the-box thinking. “It was a popular mix,” said Nizar Ladak, CEO and President of Compute Ontario. “This was our best attended event so far, with a fully engaged audience interacting with one another.”

As usual, students were an important focus at the joint conference presented by Compute Ontario and ORION. The diTHINK diComputing track featured contributed presentations (in the form of 15-minute, oral slide-based presentations) and Poster Presentations.

Harold Hodgins
Harold Hodgins

Wilfrid Laurier University Undergraduate Researcher Harold Hodgins’ poster with images of Julia sets was inspired by a Parallel Programming project that used Python Programming. “Julia sets are created by computing the orbit of a specific value. Values whose iterations don’t converge are part of the Julia set,” explained Hodgins. Other presentations included the evolution of radiation treatment plans using big data and cloud computing, the effects of drag-reducing polymers on the transition and growth of turbulent coherent structures, and visualization tools for debugging pilot cluster programs.

David Rusu
David Rusu

Top honours for the best poster presentation went to Ryerson University’s Kenneth Blahut for his ‘Mathematical Modelling of Hepatitis C Virus: Quantifying the Contribution of Cell-free versus Cell-to-cell Infection’. The winners of the best oral presentation were Wilfrid Laurier’s Robert Morouney, David Rusu, and Vaughan Hilts for their parallelization of the learning algorithm described in ‘A Monte-Carlo AIXI Approximation’. “We implemented a general approximation of the AIXI algorithm which is an approximation of a general purpose artificial intelligence,” Rusu told us. “This was all done using SHARCNET, a Canadian HPC cluster.”  Winners received a Parallella supercomputer.

While students are always an important part of the annual conference, the well-rounded schedule of breakout sessions appealed to every demographic with topics such as diLearn, diEconomy, diFuture and diConnectivity. Cindy Munro, the Director of Finance and Administration at SHARCNET said, “People came looking for interesting content and great networking and they found it.” She added, “Students, researchers, IT people, managers, and government people coming together made the day.”