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ACM Opinion

Supercomputers Can Save ­.s. Manufacturing


IBM supercomputers

Small firms could reap the benefits of supercomputing, says Donald Q. Lamb, director of the Flash Center for Computational Science at the University of Chicago.

Credit: NOAA

The United States used to be a powerhouse in manufacturing. In the past quarter of a century we have relinquished this leadership position, in large part because we made a decision — consciously or unconsciously — that the service and financial sectors are sufficient to sustain our economy. But they are not.

The fate of manufacturing is in some ways linked to our prowess in the physical sciences. In the 1960s and 1970s high-performance computing (HPC) developed at the national labs made its way to the manufacturing sector, where it now powers much of the innovation behind our most successful commercial firms.

Fortunately, the nation's lead in high-performance computing still stands. HPC is the advanced computing physicists use to model the dynamics of black holes, meteorologists use to model weather, and engineers use to simulate combustion. This expertise may also be our best chance to rescue U.S. manufacturing.

From Scientific American
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