Rob van Nieuwpoort, professor by special appointment of Efficient Computing for eScience

22 Sep 2016 - 3 min

Our director of eScience Technology, Rob van Nieuwpoort (1975) has been named professor by special appointment of Efficient Computing for eScience at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Science. This chair has been established with the support of the Netherlands eScience Center. Van Nieuwpoort is combining his post as professor by special appointment with his position as director of eScience Technology at the Netherlands eScience Center.

As professor by special appointment, Rob van Nieuwpoort will form a link between the research being undertaken at the University of Amsterdam and at the eScience Center. The eScience Center promotes the use of digital technology in science. It brings together IT, data science, e-infrastructure and data- and computation-intensive research across all domains of research, from physics to the humanities. The applications in the eScience Center’s research portfolio offer a unique opportunity for researchers and students to apply their expertise in scientific issues beyond the domain of IT.

More efficient use of large-scale computing power

Van Nieuwpoort will be researching ways in which large-scale computing power can be used more efficiently in achieving scientific breakthroughs in various scientific fields. Over the past few decades, computers have changed fundamentally, and a shift has taken place in the balance between computing power and data transport. Computer processing speeds are increasing, but computers can’t feed the relevant data into the processors quickly enough. In addition, computers have become highly parallel in their operation: they carry out a lot of calculations simultaneously. Many scientific applications have been unable to keep up with these developments. As a result, much scientific software remains sub-optimal. Improving this software will result in faster large-scale data processing and enhanced scientific tools such as telescopes, climate simulations, particle accelerators, etc.

Van Nieuwpoort will be developing new programming models and studies that will make the use of large-scale systems (so-called exascale computers) simpler and more efficient. In addition, energy efficiency also plays a crucial part. For large-scale scientific experiments such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope, energy use is a limiting factor and a major expense. In these cases, software that uses energy more efficiently will have the immediate effect of increasing the sensitivity of the instruments.

Bachelor’s and Master’s education

In addition to undertaking research, Van Nieuwpoort will be teaching on the Systems and Network Engineering and Software Engineering Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes. The GPU Computing Center which Van Nieuwpoort established at VU University Amsterdam has come to play a vital role in the Master’s programme in Computer Science taught jointly by VU and UvA, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

Van Nieuwpoort has been director of eScience Technology at the Netherlands eScience Center since 2012. He previously worked as assistant professor at VU University Amsterdam’s Computer Systems research group, and as a researcher at ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. Van Nieuwpoort has published widely in renowned scientific journals includingAstronomy and Astrophysics,Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems and IEEE Computer.