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San Diego Supercomputer Center Names Pi Person of the Year

Published June 26, 2024

Mahidhar Tatineni, User Services group lead and a computational data science research specialist manager, has been named SDSC's Pi Person of the Year.  Image: Jake Drake, SDSC Communications.

By Cynthia Dillon, SDSC Communications

Mahidhar Tatineni (PhD, UCLA) has been named the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) 2024 Pi Person of the Year. This award, first bestowed to an SDSC researcher in 2013, recognizes an individual whose impact straddles both science and cyberinfrastructure technology.

As SDSC’s User Services group lead and a computational data science research specialist manager, Tatineni has completed many optimization and parallelization projects of scientific codes and benchmarks with the center’s supercomputing resources. His impact at SDSC for over nearly two decades has been demonstrable in terms of his involvement with U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)-, Department of Defense (DoD)- and industry-funded research in high-performance computing (HPC), high-throughput computing (HTC), accelerators, other cyberinfrastructure (CI) areas and domain science simulations. His involvement in such efforts as a principal investigator—PI or co-PI—has impacted and enabled research for tens of thousands of national researchers and students who use SDSC’s resources for conducting science and education activities. Tatineni has led the creation of new materials and teaching topics on HPC/HTC/accelerators and CI, and he has presented at training sessions, workshops and summer institutes at SDSC, as well conducting tutorials at national competitive venues such as the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis (SC) and Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing (PEARC).

During the last five years, Tatineni has guided students as a mentor for the Supercomputing Student Cluster Competition at SC. He has served in national-scale reviews and on committees such as NSF proposal review panels, SC/PEARC and journal reviews, allocation review committees and NSF’s COVID consortium panel. Additionally, he contributes to the ICICLE AI Institute’s CI architecture, especially as it relates to HPC resources at SDSC.

As a member of the Data-Enabled Scientific Computing (DESC) team, Tatineni has demonstrated the deepest and broadest combined impact in terms of research in CI and enabling CI/HPC for many thousands of researchers and students through SDSC’s Education Outreach and Training programs, according to DESC Division Director Amit Majumdar.

“His intellect, expertise and contributions have enabled SDSC to acquire several grants for supercomputers—Gordon, Comet, Expanse, Voyager, Prototype National Research Platform (PNRP) and a new system set to launch soon, as well as for cyberinfrastructure research totaling nearly 100 million dollars over the last 15 years,” said Majumdar. “Mahidhar is dedicated to his work and as a result has made tremendous impact in CI and research for SDSC.”

Tatineni has made many contributions to fundamental HPC research over the years. He has helped design and implement middleware on many of SDSC’s supercomputers, and he has optimized, benchmarked and analyzed performance of scientific applications from domain sciences of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), neuroscience, bioinformatics, molecular dynamics and more. For example, his implementation and improvement of scalability of a parallel petascale kinetic magnetosphere simulation code on the Blue Waters machine at NCSA resulted in more than 260 journal citations. He also co-authored a paper that resulted in the Gordon Bell Special Prize for HPC-Based COVID-19 Research at SC20. His library of accepted grants shows the depth and breadth of his research contributions.

Team members note that Tatineni has used many large scale national academic HPC platforms in American HPC during his career. He started as a grad student in the 1990s as an early user of the Maui High Performance Computing Center IBM SP2 supercomputer, continued with large scale runs on NSF machines such as Kraken at the University of Tennessee (which was the first academic supercomputer to break the petaflop barrier), Ranger, Stampede2, and Frontera at TACC, Blue Waters at NCSA and all of the systems at SDSC since 2005. He has also participated in MVAPICH2 software implementation and benchmarking on SDSC’s HPC resources and other software infrastructure projects, such as HADOOP, Big Data software stack and AI software stack.

According to Majumdar, SDSC researchers and staff who report to him, as well SDSC leaders and his peers within SDSC and outside of SDSC respect him, making Tatineni a “perfect recipient” of the 2024 PI Person of the Year award.