Today's supercomputers require programming skills that too few U.S. researchers have to produce advanced computer simulations, and affordable computers and committed national programs outside the United States are whittling down the U.S.'s competitiveness in several simulation-driven fields, according to the International Assessment of Research and Development in Simulation-Based Engineering and Science, which was released by the World Technology Evaluation Center (WETC).
"The startling news was how quickly our assumptions have to change," says the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) Phillip Westmoreland. "Because computer chip speeds aren't increasing, hundreds and thousands of chips are being ganged together, each one with many processors. New ways of programming are necessary." The WTEC report highlighted several areas in which the United States still holds a competitive advantage, including the development of novel algorithms, but also highlighted areas that are increasingly being lead by Europe or Asia, such as the creation and simulation of new materials from first principles. Westmoreland says that some of the new high-powered computers are as common as gaming computers, allowing scientific breakthroughs to take place all over the world.
"Progress in simulation-based engineering and science holds great promise for the pervasive advancement of knowledge and understanding through discovery," says NSF's Clark Cooper. "We expect future developments to continue to enhance prediction and decision making in the presence of uncertainty."
From National Science Foundation
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