CS Forum: Kyle Chard "Serverless Supercomputing: High Performance Function as a Service for Science"

CS forum is a seminar series arranged at the CS department - open to everyone free-of-charge. Coffee is served at 14:00 and the talk begins at 14:15.

Serverless Supercomputing: High Performance Function as a Service for Science

Kyle Chard
University of Chicago
Argonne National Laboratory


Growing data volumes and velocities are driving exciting new methods across the sciences in which data analytics and machine learning are increasingly intertwined with research. These new methods require new approaches for scientific computing in which computation is mobile, so that, for example, it can occur near data, be triggered by events (e.g., arrival of new data), or be offloaded to specialized accelerators. They also require new design approaches in which monolithic applications can be decomposed into smaller components, that may in turn be executed separately and on the most efficient resources. To address these needs I present two systems designed to enable seamless scientific computing at fine granularity. First, funcX—a high-performance function-as-a-service (FaaS) platform that enables intuitive, flexible, efficient, scalable, and performant remote function execution on existing infrastructure including clouds, clusters, and supercomputers. It allows users to register and then execute Python functions without regard for the physical resource location, scheduler architecture, or virtualization technology on which the function is executed—an approach we refer to as “serverless supercomputing.”  Second, I will describe Parsl, parallel scripting library that augments Python with simple, scalable, and flexible constructs for encoding parallelism. These constructs allow Parsl to construct a dynamic dependency graph of components that it can then execute efficiently on one or many processors. Parsl is designed for scalability, with an extensible set of executors tailored to different use cases, such as low-latency, high-throughput, or extreme-scale execution.  I will describe the motivation for developing funcX and Parsl, outline use in diverse scientific use cases,  and demonstrate, via experiments on two supercomputers, that these systems can process millions of functions across more than 65 000 concurrent workers. 


Kyle Chard is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago and a researcher at Argonne National Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand in 2011. He co-leads the Globus Labs research group which focuses on a broad range of research problems in data-intensive computing and research data management. He currently leads projects related to parallel programming in Python, scientific reproducibility, and elastic and cost-aware use of cloud infrastructure.

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