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Transforming Combustion Research Through Cyberinfrastructure
scalability, and it may entirely miss the design optimum. A combustion CI will speed up the process of generating and testing designs and predictions preceding full-scale experimentation.
A cyberinfrastructure is an integrated ensemble consisting of software tools, computing and communication capabilities, and specialized personnel who distribute computing, information, and communication technologies to facilitate the sharing of information, data, software, and computing resources across a community. Examples of such an ensemble are the nanoHUB,1 a science gateway developed and operated by the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Network for Computational Nanotechnology; and the Open Science Grid,2 a national, shared infrastructure of computing resources funded jointly by the Department of Energy (DOE) and NSF.
A range of architectures, access protocols, management structures, and data models must be considered and crafted for the intended user community when a cyberinfrastructure is being designed. These must likewise be tailored for the specialized needs and culture of the combustion community. Throughout the process of establishing a cyberinfrastructure, care must be taken to ensure buy-in and adoption by the target community.
The combustion research field is well positioned to profit significantly from a community-wide CI. The community is an amalgamation of separate subdisciplines, each with its own data, simulation tools, computing resources, conferences, journals, and cultures. In addition, most CR is conducted by small groups, so the community is not drawn together around large facilities or a small set of research problems. Thus, it can be an unnecessarily slow and haphazard process for one group to learn about and then use improved data from another group. Likewise, simulation tools and research results are not necessarily disseminated as easily and quickly as would be optimal. This “friction” in the system might especially impact the engineering design process, which may not have timely access to the best research, data, methodologies, and tools. The capability of a CI for facilitating the effective sharing of information across the boundaries separating groups and subdisciplines within the combustion community has the potential to transform the community. Throughout this report, the study committee identifies new modes of interaction that a combustion CI will enable, new educational tools that it will make available, and improvements in the process of combustion research that it is likely to spur.