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NASA Offers $15,000 Prize To Anyone Who Can Improve Performance Of Its Fluid Dynamics Software

5 May 2017, 9:08 am EDT By Luan Chan Tech Times
NASA has issued a challenge to speed up its supercomputer by 10 to 10,000 times its current speed. Qualified contestants can win up to $15,000 If successful.  ( NASA )

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is home to many advanced programs and technologies that help process huge amounts of data, which the agency shares to the public.

After being the frontrunner in technological advancements, the agency is now seeking assistance from qualified and competent programmers, whether experts in the field or private individuals who find algorithm optimization exciting.

The top qualification is that interested participants must be residing in the United States since NASA's Fluid Dynamics Simulation and Design or FUN3D software, the main focus of the competition, is export-controlled. This means the program is not available to anyone outside the United States, so competitors should at least be able to submit their output before leaving the country.

NASA Competition

NASA is actually holding two variations of the competition aimed at improving the FUN3D design software, which runs on the Pleiades supercomputer. One aspect of the competition focuses on gathering ideas for the improvement of the system (Ideation), while the other concentrates on manipulating the algorithm of the program or implementing actionable improvements (Architecture).

The goal is to improve the program's algorithm in order to simplify some processes even by a millisecond without compromising accuracy. Simplifying some processes would, in turn, speed up the overall process by 10 to 10,000 times its current speed.

What Is The FUN3D Software?

The FUN3D software suite is a collection of design and simulation tools used by NASA to create various scenarios for its scientists, engineers, and astronauts.

The tools are meant for advanced aviation research and used by top aviation companies such as Lockheed and Boeing to improve and develop their aviation engines.

"This challenge is specifically targeted to speed up the CFD [Computational Fluid Dynamics] portion of our aerospace research ... Some concepts are just so complex, it's difficult for even the fastest supercomputers to analyze these models in real time. Achieving a speed-up in this software by orders of magnitude hones the edge we need to advance our technology to the next level!" Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program executive Michael Hetle said.

The Competition

NASA's "High Performance Fast Computing Challenge" is open to all qualified candidates currently residing in the United States.

For those interested in joining, know that FUN3D is written in Fortran so it is very mathematical. The output should, of course, still be in Fortran.

If you can understand and program in Fortran, NASA wants you to download the FUN3D software and look for performance bottlenecks and suggest improvements to speed up its processing.

As part of the motivational package, NASA has set aside up to $55,000 for successful participants:

HeroX Ideation Award

• First Place: $10,000

• Two Runners-up: $5,000 each

TopCoder Architecture Award

• First Place: $15,000

• Second Place: $10,000

• Improvement Candidate Prize Pool: $10,000

Non-first or second placers who are able to submit one or more valid and feasible solutions for speeding up the computational process will split the $10,000 in the prize pool.

Participants can send in their submissions until 5 p.m. EDT on June 29.

Watch the video below to learn more.

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