Join the PETSc User Meeting 2016!

PETSc, the Portable, Extensible Toolkit for Scientific Computing, is one of the world's most widely used software libraries for high-performance computational science. With most of the PETSc core team employed at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, USA, exchange with the European user community was hampered by geographic distance. This year, the PETSc team will reach out to Europe and hold the PETSc User Meeting 2016 on June 28-30 in Vienna, Austria.

As local organizer of the event, let me share some details on the planning and how everything started. The initial spark for a PETSc User Meeting in Europe came at the 20 Years of PETSc (PETSc-20) conference and workshop in June 2015 at the Argonne National Laboratory. About a quarter of the ~110 participants came all the way over from Europe. Most were experienced PETSc users and presented results of their research codes built on top of PETSc. At the same time, email traffic on the PETSc mailing list indicated that there are also many new users of PETSc in Europe. At the end of my talk at PETSc-20, I ran a quick poll to see whether people would be interested in a PETSc User Meeting hosted in Europe. About 30 people raised their hand; more than I had expected. This got the ball rolling.

The first step for checking the feasibility of running a PETSc User Meeting was to find financial support. The team at the Vienna Scientific Cluster (VSC) was supporting my proposal of having a PETSc user meeting in Vienna, since PETSc is one of the most frequently used packages on the VSC. Also, rather than sending users and students to tutorials in Germany, hosting a meeting in Vienna was attractive in terms of return on investment: It is cheaper to run a local tutorial for 10+ participants as compared to covering their travel expenses and registration fees for attending a tutorial elsewhere. Additional financial support is also provided by Intel through the Intel Parallel Computing Center at the University of Chicago. Overall, this allows us to run the PETSc User Meeting 2016 without charging any registration fees. We are still reaching out to prospective sponsors in order to be able to provide student travel grants, but this can be seen as the icing on the cake.

The dates (June 28-30) came naturally: The week before is the ISC 2016 in Frankfurt, Germany, and the week after is the PDESoft 2016 in Warwick, UK. Another week later is the SIAM Annual Meeting 2016. Since these events target a similar audience, it made much more sense to align rather than to overlap the dates.

With the dates set, a suitable venue had to be found. June 28-30 is right in the exam period in Austria, so large-enough lecture halls at the TU Wien are not available. Most hotels and conference centers around Vienna were not an option either: Often the package is bundled with lunch and extensive catering. With the aim of free registration and assuming 100 participants, 40-60 Euros per person per day exceeded the available budget. Fortunately, we found two venues with moderate fees for room rental and optional (scalable) catering options. Among the two, the conference center AM SPIEGELN had more to offer.

If you wish to participate and optionally contribute to the PETSc User Meeting 2016, please register no later than May 1, 2016. Since there is only room for at most 120 participants, I recommend to register rather sooner than later. The PETSc team and I are looking forward to welcoming you in Vienna!

This blog post is for calendar week 5 of my weekly blogging series for 2016.