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Ohio Supercomputer named after Russell Pitzer

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The Ohio Supercomputer Center has announced that it will name its latest supercomputer after, Russell Pitzer, the honouree and now emeritus professor of chemistry at The Ohio State University.

Pitzer was among a few individuals who began discussing the possibility of bringing high performance computing to Ohio higher education, even before the centre was established in 1987.

The new system which is being procured this summer is being named in line with the Ohio tradition of naming its systems after pioneers with an Ohio connection, For this system the centre looked to its earliest days before as Pitzer was among a few individuals who began discussing the possibility of bringing high performance computing to Ohio higher education, even before the centre was established in 1987.

‘Dr Pitzer played a key role in the vision for and creation of the centre,’ remarked David Hudak, interim executive director of OSC. ‘He has shown a rare level of commitment in maintaining his involvement with the centre, both as a staff member and advisor, for more than 30 years. Russ is certainly deserving of having this new system named after him for his dedication to high performance computing across Ohio.’

The Pitzer Cluster, currently being built by Dell, is scheduled for delivery in August and is designed to deliver more than 1.3 petaflops of performance. Pitzer will join other Ohio pioneers currently or formerly represented in the OSC data centre, such as Jesse Owens, Ruby Dee, Annie Oakley, Chuck Csuri and John Glenn.

‘It is an honour to have my name proposed for the Ohio Supercomputer Center’s new supercomputer,’ Pitzer said.

Pitzer explained his role in helping to create OSC in a 2009 autobiography that appeared in the Journal of Physical Chemistry A: ‘In 1985, after the NSF announced their program for funding national supercomputer centres, Bill McCurdy and I, as two of the very few supercomputer-experienced faculty in the state, were included in a group putting a proposal together. We set about making plans for all aspects of the Ohio Supercomputer Center, including a state computer network for access (Ohio Academic Resources Network, or OARnet).’

Pitzer, McCurdy and others behind the effort ‘believed that the nation at large was moving to a different kind of technology, a technology not available at Ohio State or at other colleges and universities in the state of Ohio,’ recounts McCurdy in his 1988 Ohio Supercomputer Center Status Report. McCurdy, now at the University of California Davis, served as OSC acting director from 1986 to 1987. Pitzer was the acting associate director for the same period, including being in charge of the staff that developed and maintained OARnet.

Pitzer also served as interim director of the centre from 2001 to 2003. From its inception to the present, Pitzer also has been an active member of the centre’s Statewide Users Group, which meets regularly with OSC staff to discuss hardware, software, allocations and general information about the centre.

Today, OSC provides statewide high performance computing, storage, software and training services that assist researchers across a vast array of disciplines in both academic and commercial sectors. OARnet now offers its clients a wide array of network services across 2,400 miles of statewide, fibre-optic backbone. Both organisations are members of the Ohio Technology Consortium, the technology and information division of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.