Toward an automated parallel computing environment for geosciences

Huai Zhang, Mian Liu, Yaolin Shi, David A. Yuen, Zhenzhen Yan, Guoping Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Software for geodynamic modeling has not kept up with the fast growing computing hardware and network resources. In the past decade supercomputing power has become available to most researchers in the form of affordable Beowulf clusters and other parallel computer platforms. However, to take full advantage of such computing power requires developing parallel algorithms and associated software, a task that is often too daunting for geoscience modelers whose main expertise is in geosciences. We introduce here an automated parallel computing environment built on open-source algorithms and libraries. Users interact with this computing environment by specifying the partial differential equations, solvers, and model-specific properties using an English-like modeling language in the input files. The system then automatically generates the finite element codes that can be run on distributed or shared memory parallel machines. This system is dynamic and flexible, allowing users to address different problems in geosciences. It is capable of providing web-based services, enabling users to generate source codes online. This unique feature will facilitate high-performance computing to be integrated with distributed data grids in the emerging cyber-infrastructures for geosciences. In this paper we discuss the principles of this automated modeling environment and provide examples to demonstrate its versatility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-22
Number of pages21
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by the National Science Foundation of China under Grant Numbers 40474038, 40574021, 40374038 and by National Basic Research Program of China under Grant Number 2004cb418406. Zhang's visit to the University of Missouri-Columbia was partially supported by the NSF-EAR 0225546 grant to Liu. This work was conducted as part of the visualization working group at laboratory of computational geodynamics supported by the Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, we thank Shi Chen and Shaolin Chen in the visualization working group who provided some of the figures. David A. Yuen thanked NSF for support in CMG and ITR programs.


  • Cyber-infrastructure
  • Finite element method
  • GEON
  • Geodynamics
  • Parallel computing


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