Interactive Supercomputing Inc. (ISC) will help NASA scientists tap the huge speed and memory capabilities of high performance computers to improve next generation space telescopes and stellar imaging applications.

ISC has won a grant from NASA to link NASA’s Optical Systems Characterization and Analysis Research (OSCAR) software with ISC’s Star-P interactive software platform. The project would enable scientists in NASA’s Stellar Imaging Vision Mission to boost productivity by reusing existing serial and parallel OSCAR code, without having to master OSCAR’s complex programming requirements.

OSCAR is modeling software used to design and analyze large space-based imaging systems. The software was instrumental in solving the highly publicized optical flaws of the Hubble Space Telescope. Because systems of this type require large, high-fidelity optical modeling, NASA runs OSCAR on Beowulf high performance parallel computing clusters in order to handle the huge datasets and meet the large memory requirements. To facilitate parallel computing, OSCAR is written entirely in “C” with message passing interface (MPI) handling the computations across many processor nodes.

With Star-P, scientists can re-use and extend the functionality of existing code by linking it to easy-to-use desktop tools such as Python or MATLABĀ®. Star-P then automatically transforms the programs to run interactively on the Beowulf clusters.

“While OSCAR is extremely powerful, it is not easy to use since there is no GUI and it requires calling library functions from C or MPI code,” said Alan Edelman, ISC’s chief science officer. “Interfacing OSCAR with Star-P will enable scientists to breathe new life into old code using easy-to-use, high- productivity desktop environments, without having to re-program the applications in C or MPI to run on parallel systems.”

Star-P is commercial software that lets users create algorithms and models on their desktops using familiar mathematical software packages such as Python, MATLAB, and Mathematica and run them instantly and interactively on parallel HPC servers. It automatically connects desktop applications to HPCs and parallelizes the application code on the fly.

“OSCAR is a powerful NASA resource that can now be extended with Star-P to a wider range of scientists whose work demands high performance computing, but who are not parallel programming experts,” said Anthony Gualtieri, who has worked in high performance computing at NASA for many years. “Scientists increasingly need more processing power beyond what their desktops provide, but the complexities of programming parallel systems have kept HPC servers out of reach. With Star-P, they can continue work with the interactive desktop tools that they prefer while seamlessly tapping into HPCs for the heavy computational tasks.”

About Interactive Supercomputing

Interactive Supercomputing (ISC) launched in 2004 to commercialize Star-P, an interactive parallel computing platform. With automatic parallelization and interactive execution of existing desktop simulation applications, Star-P merges two previously distinct environments — desktop computers and high performance servers — into one. Based in Waltham, Mass., the privately held company markets Star-P for a range of security, intelligence, manufacturing, energy, biomedical, financial, and scientific research applications. Additional information is available at