What We Do
Computational science involves the use and analysis of mathematical models on high- performance computers to solve scientific and engineering problems in various disciplines. Such disciplines include nuclear engineering, reservoir modeling, environmental studies, seismology, aeronautics, biology, economics and medical imaging. Scientific computation constitutes a powerful “third arm” to theory and experimentation, and provides an innovative methodology to multidisciplinary problem solving.
ISC serves as a platform for conducting and coordinating multidisciplinary research under the four disciplines of scientific computation: data management, mathematical modeling, numerical solutions and visualization. Current research at ISC includes the following:
- Advanced computational methods and numerical analysis aims at developing efficient and adaptive numerical solution techniques to solve multi-scale and multi-physics problems. Solving such problems is an essential element of modeling many real-world systems, such as oil reservoir and basin models. ISC’s current numerical analysis research program include:
- multi-scale finite element/volume methods
- numerical upscaling methods
- adaptive local grid refinement in time and space
- numerical analysis for hyperbolic problems
- mass-conservative characteristic-based finite element/volume methods
- discontinuous finite element methods
- Validation and verification of numerical results through laboratory experiments or field observation connects computation models to the real world, where complexity precludes exact solutions. Through collaborations between researchers from mathematics and petroleum engineering, ISC conducts research on oil production history-matching problems that help to validate oil reservoir models.
Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) is an integrated circuit (IC) that contains a large number of programmable logic blocks and programmable interconnects. A key feature of the circuit is that it allows programmers to reconfigure FPGA architecture for certain numerical operations on the fly during numerical calculations. ISC conducts research on hardware-software solutions to improve the efficiency of numerical simulations by making use of this feature. ISC’s current FPGA-enhanced reconfigurable computing research programs include:
- hardware architecture model of FPGA-enhanced computers for scientific computations
- high-speed/high-precision numerical computing on FPGA-enhanced computers
- FPGA-specific direct/iterative linear solvers
- seismic modeling/migration on FPGA-enhanced computers
- reservoir simulations on FPGA-enhanced computers
- An advanced integrated data center has been developed through the joint efforts of ISC and the Academy for Advanced Telecommunication and Learning Technology. This center has the scalability and adaptability to accommodate the changing scientific computation infrastructure.
- Software architecture design affects the life span and maintenance cost of each software package. These are critical aspects of such packages in the computer-simulation-intensive industry. ISC conducts research on software architecture designed for scientific computation software. The institute also develops scientific computation software tools that allow researchers to produce prototypes that incorporate their ideas and to perform large-scale numerical simulations.
- Real-time visualization of multi-dimensional computational results helps people to understand scientific problems for both research and public education. ISC has developed the capacity to visualize multidimensional data in an immersive environment at the Immersive Visualization Center (IVC). Based on a semi-rigid, rear-projected, curved screen, the IVC facilitates the imaging of very large datasets from a diverse set of disciplines. Specialists in geophysics, life and physical sciences, engineering and architecture gain a better understanding of their research by taming the complexity of their data through such visualizations. This particular IVC configuration is the first such installation in the Western Hemisphere.
In response to increased use of computational techniques to help solve complex science and engineering problems, ISC has developed a Computational Sciences Certification Program (CSCP). CSCP offers graduate students a broad-based multidisciplinary computational enhancement to their degrees in science or engineering. CSCP provides formal documentation, on a student’s transcript, that he or she has taken additional courses focused on the computational aspects of their disciplines. CSCP thus adds value and marketability to these degrees.
ISC believes outreach is critical to success. By sharing its information and facilities, ISC is promoting public awareness of scientific computation research. And as it collaborates with local and international research institutes, ISC is sharing discoveries and advances in scientific computation research, increasing external funding and providing better services for researchers at Texas A&M and in the greater math modeling community.
Over the years, ISC has organized and sponsored many workshops, conferences and events. It has also hosted a great number of internationally-recognized visiting scholars.
ISC has established and strengthened collaborations with many prestigious academic and industrial partners in personnel exchange and joint research projects. The institute’s partners thus far have included Princeton University, Center for Integrated Petroleum Research, University of Bergen, University of Heidelberg, University of Kentucky, University Of South Carolina, University of Texas at Austin, Saudi Aramco, China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), and Exxon Mobil Upstream Research Company.