File /Humanist.vol22.txt, message 20

Date: Thu, 15 May 2008 06:35:03 +0100
From: "Humanist Discussion Group \(by way of Willard McCarty              <>\)" <willard-AT-LISTS.VILLAGE.VIRGINIA.EDU>
Subject: 22.020 the NEH and Humanities High Performance Computing (HHPC)
To: <humanist-AT-Princeton.EDU>

                Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 20.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to:

         Date: Thu, 15 May 2008 06:30:49 +0100
         From: "Bobley, Brett" <>
         Subject: Humanities High Performance Computing (HHPC)

Willard and Humanist Readers,

As you may have seen in the news, the U.S. National Endowment for the
Humanities has recently announced our new Humanities High Performance
Computing initiative -- HHPC for short.  Our goal is to start a
conversation about how high performance computers -- supercomputers --
can be used for humanities research.  We are working with colleagues at
the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. National Science Foundation
to provide information on how high performance/grid computing and data
storage might be used for work in the humanities.  We are also
announcing a new grant competition with DOE to award time and training
on their machines.  We are also inviting teams of scholars and
scientists who are working on HHPC projects to apply to our
Collaborative Research grant competition for funding.  I urge you to
check out our HHPC Resources page for more information.  Here is a Tiny
URL that will redirect you to that page on the NEH website:

Personally, I'm very curious to see where this new initiative takes us.
It started over a year ago when the Office of Science at DOE approached
us about making supercomputers available to humanities researchers.  We
invited a number of humanities scholars and supercomputing specialists
to meet with us here at the NEH last July so we could think hard about
this issue.  Certainly, I think that everyone in attendance agreed that
there are only a limited number of humanities projects today that
require high performance computing.  But one of the things we learned
from colleagues at NSF and DOE is that this was the also the case in the
sciences in the not-too-distant past -- scientists also had to learn
about supercomputers before they could begin applying them to their
work.  Computation has proven an effective tool for scholarship and
while supercomputers may only be useful for a small slice of the
humanities today, I think it is safe to say that slice will grow in size
over time.  So think of this HHPC initiative as way of opening doors;  a
way of starting conversations and getting scholars, computer scientists,
and information scientists talking about ways in which their fields
might work together.  If you know of any humanities projects currently
using HPC technology please do get in touch.  My plan is to compile a
list and highlight some exemplar projects.

Some related articles of interest:

      * April 22, 2008.  The Chronicle of Higher Education.  "A
Supercomputer Takes Humanities Scholars Into the 21st Century."  See:

      * May 9, 2008.  HPCWire.  "High Performance Humanities."  See:

thank you,


Brett Bobley
Chief Information Officer
Director, Office of Digital Humanities
National Endowment for the Humanities
(202) 606-8401 


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