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Chris Eliasmith, University of Waterloo Professor in the Departments of Philosophy, Systems Design Engineering and Computer Science and Canada Research Chair in Theoretical Neuroscience wins the NSERC John C. Polanyi Award that honours an individual or team whose Canadian-based research has led to a recent outstanding advance in the natural sciences or engineering.

Eliasmith has built a computer model of the human brain that makes human-like mistakes, has human-like accuracy, and takes human-like lengths of time to process information. The work could lead to better treatments for brain trauma and Alzheimer’s, as well as advances in artificial intelligence. Its name is Spaun, and it’s more human-like than any computer today. Developed by University of Waterloo neuroscientist Eliasmith, Spaun(Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network) is the world’s largest simulation of a functioning brain. And unlike other computer brains, Spauncan mimic the human brain’s ability to see, remember and act.

This internationally acclaimed computer program’s 2.5 million virtual neurons and simulated eye and arm allow it to shift between diverse tasks – from copying human handwriting to finding hidden patterns in a list of numbers. Such tasks will help researchers understand how millions of neurons cooperate to cause behaviour.

Eliasmith has drawn on his experience in philosophy, neuroscience, systems design engineering and computer science to develop mathematical theories of the brain that will make it possible for scientists to study the behavioural consequences of brain damage in a safe, simulated environment, without damaging a real brain. It will provide new insights into how the brain actually works and potentially revolutionize the way we treat brain disorders.

Eliasmith’s work has been featured in the BBC, Popular Science, CBC, Wired, New York Times, Science News, Discovery, and Nature just to name a few. He’s also the author of a step-by-step guide, called ‘How to Build a Brain’, which teaches readers how to build their own computer model of the human brain. More info



The sixth International Summer School on HPC Challenges in Computational Sciences will be held from June 21-26, 2015, in Toronto, Canada. This is an advanced summer school on High Performance Computing which targets graduate students and postdocs who already have some experience in HPC parallel programming (for instance, MPI, OpenMP, or CUDA/OpenCL), preferably on software used in successful research projects.

Leading American, Canadian, European and Japanese computational scientists and HPC technologists will offer instruction on a variety of topics.

Participation in the summer school is decided through an application process. Meals, housing, and travel will be covered for the selected participants. Applications from students in all science and engineering fields are welcome. Preference will be given to applicants with parallel programming experience, and a research plan that will benefit from the utilization of high performance computing systems.

Applications are due by March 11, 2015. For further information and to apply online, please click here.



SHARCNET is pleased to announce the results of its Round V Dedicated Programming Support competition. The primary objectives of this program are to enable key research projects with the potential for exceptional and lasting impact that require significant programming support to proceed, and facilitate optimal exploitation of SHARCNET’s or Compute Canada’s computing infrastructure for internationally leading research.

In this Round, programmer allocations have been made to the following researchers:

  • Peter Bernath, Department of Chemistry, University of Waterloo
  • Susan Brown, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph
  • Li Xi, Chemical Engineering, McMaster University

SHARCNET plans to run another competition in 2-3 months. Please visit the DP website for more information on the competition. Congratulations to our Round V awardees!



As part of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Cyberinfrastructure Initiative, Compute Canada is invited to submit a proposal on behalf of the Canadian Advanced Research Computing community. This proposal is due in April 2015, and will be the focus of the Compute Canada consultations that will be held at six locations across the country between January 20 and 22, 2015.

In anticipation of these consultations, Compute Canada has prepared a high-level summary of their short-term infrastructure renewal plan. Written comments on this plan can be sent to sparc@computecanada.ca or provided during the consultation sessions. While comments are welcome any time, those received by February 10, 2015 will be given full consideration in Compute Canada’s April 2015 submission to CFI.



The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) recently announced its much-anticipated Cyberinfrastructure Initiative, which earmarks $30 million in two tranches for the renewal and refresh of Compute Canada’s hardware infrastructure. Compute Canada will join the CFI in consultations at six locations across the country between January 20 and 22, 2015 as detailed. At each location, the CFI and Compute Canada will meet with stakeholders to get feedback on the details of the draft call. Immediately following each session, Compute Canada will host consultations to capture feedback on the technical details of its Phase 1 Renewal Plan. These sessions will advance Compute Canada’s work on Sustainable Planning for Advanced Research Computing (SPARC) and will guide the proposal to be submitted to CFI in April 2015.

For those unable to attend the consultations in person, Compute Canada will also host a national webinar during the week of January 26. Details will be shared by Compute Canada in early January.



Compute Canada announces the launch of the Compute Canada Globus Portal, a high-performance file-transfer service designed for Canadian researchers.

The announcement was made as part of a Parliament Hill event highlighting the importance of advanced research computing and celebrating the successes of Canadians researchers.

The Compute Canada Globus Portal is a fast, reliable and secure service for transferring and sharing data. It can be accessed using a web browser on any computer, making it easy for users, no matter where they are located, to move and synchronize data, between two resources. With the click of a button, researchers with a Compute Canada account will now be able to transfer or share a single file or millions of files in a fraction of the time. More info



Mr. Mark Dietrich, President and CEO of Compute Canada, Canada’s national advanced research computing platform, today announced the allocation of more than $71 million worth of advanced research computing and storage capacity to over 300 research projects, across the country.

These allocations, which result from Compute Canada’s most recent Resource Allocation Competition (RAC) and of the new Research Platforms and Portals Competition (RPP), were announced as part of a Parliament Hill event highlighting the importance of advanced research computing and celebrating the successes of Canadians researchers.

Hosted by the Honourable Andrew Scheer, Speaker of the House of Commons, the event gathered many parliamentarians including the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), government officials and representatives of the research and innovation community.

The competitively awarded grants will allocate more than $66 million through the RAC and more than $5 million through the RPP competition. These allocations include more than 124,000 core-years of computational power and 15.5 petabytes (15.5 quadrillion bytes) of data storage on Compute Canada’s advanced research computing systems. More info



SHARCNET is issuing a call for proposals for Round V Dedicated Programming Support. This programme provides support for computational projects of exceptional potential that will have lasting impact and value and that require significant support from SHARCNET to proceed.

For Round V, applications are encouraged that satisfy the programme objectives and priority will be given to proposals that:

  • Propose to make novel, effective and large-scale use of non-standard architectures especially GP-GPU.
  • Propose to develop innovative visualization applications and techniques that emphasize the visualization of large datasets especially using distributed/parallel visualization/rendering techniques.
  • Propose a programme of work that will enable innovative projects from disciplines that are traditionally not major users of HPC.

Applications are submitted via SHARCNET’s webportal and are due by December 21, 2014. Note that users must have a SHARCNET webportal account in order to access the online form.

For additional information, please refer to the application guidelines. Questions should be addressed to research-support@sharcnet.ca.