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October 8, 2007 12:00 AM

Google and IBM scaling up UW program

Posted by Brier Dudley

A computer science study program that Google and the University of Washington developed last year will be rolled out nationally in cooperation with IBM, the companies are announcing today.

It's an effort to "promote new software development methods which will help students and researchers address the challenges of Internet-scale applications in the future,'' the release said.

Specifically, the companies are providing hardware, software and services to help schools teach students about "highly parallel computing practices to better address the emerging paradigm of large-scale distributed computing."

They are dedicating a cluster of hundreds of computers -- Google systems and IBM servers -- and will eventually give students access to more than 1,600 processors to test parallel programming projects. The servers "will run open source software including the Linux operating system, XEN systems virtualization and Apache's Hadoop project, an open source implementation of Google's published computing infrastructure, specifically MapReduce and the Google File System,'' the release said.

Quoting Ed Lazowska, Bill & Melinda Gates Chair of Computer Science & Engineering at the UW:

"In 2006, when I helped Christophe Bisciglia, a former UW student now a senior engineer at Google, to develop the program, our goal was to understand the challenges that universities face in teaching important new concepts such as large scale computing and develop methods to address this issue. A year later, we've seen how our students have mastered many of the techniques that are critical for large scale-internet computing, benefiting our department and students."

The program is expanding beyond the UW to Carnegie-Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Maryland.

CEO quotes in the release:

"This project combines IBM's historic strengths in scientific, business and secure-transaction computing with Google's complementary expertise in Web computing and massively scaled clusters," said Samuel J. Palmisano, chairman, president and chief executive officer, IBM. "We're aiming to train tomorrow's programmers to write software that can support a tidal wave of global Web growth and billions of secure transactions every day."

"Google is excited to partner with IBM to provide resources which will better equip students and researchers to address today's developing computational challenges," said Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google. "In order to most effectively serve the long-term interests of our users, it is imperative that students are adequately equipped to harness the potential of modern computing systems and for researchers to be able to innovate ways to address emerging problems."

Online resources include a curriculum that Google and the UW developed that's available here, and open-source software IBM designed to help students write programs for clusters running Hadoop. It's an Eclipse plugin available here.

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