Grants Support Computer Science Research

October 8, 2013

A select group of Harvey Mudd College undergraduate students will have the opportunity to collaborate with graduate students at Stony Brook and Harvard Universities on research to eliminate costly bottlenecks in computer systems that waste energy and hamper performance.

Geoff Kuenning, professor of computer science and director of the Computer Science Clinic, was one of three principal investigators to win a grant from the National Science Foundation for the project titled, “Workload-Aware Storage Architectures for Optimal Performance and Energy Efficiency.” Harvey Mudd’s share of the grant is $180,023.

It was one of two NSF grants that Kuenning recently received.

The purpose of the project is to design and develop new data storage devices that can seamlessly trade off performance and energy consumption under varying workloads. The improvements will help reduce costs, decrease the nation’s energy dependence and speed up scientific discovery.

Material gathered during the project will be integrated into existing computer science courses at the three institutions and will be used to create new courses on storage systems design.

Graduate students from Stony Brook and Harvard will lead the development and research efforts year-round, while Harvey Mudd students will work during the summers.

“Kuenning’s undergraduates will be unusually valuable in this effort due to Harvey Mudd’s broad Core program, which prepares them to interact with specialists in major disciplines including physics, engineering, chemistry, genetics, mathematics and biology,” according to the grant proposal.

Harvey Mudd plans to use the project to encourage more women to consider careers in computer science since studies show that women are more interested in fields that have social impact. The College already has an excellent track record of attracting women into the field.

Kuenning also was awarded a three-year, $130,799 grant to allow him to continue operating and enhancing the National File System Trace Repository. Researchers use the repository of scientific data to study how to store computer files efficiently, inexpensively and reliably.

The grant will ensure the continued success of the trace repository by providing ongoing maintenance, development of new tools essential to the successful use of traces, and expansion of the repository facilities.

Since Kuenning established the repository in 2006, it has become the go-to place for researchers studying file system traces, which are records of the actual operations that a computer performs on a hard disk or set of files.