A team from NTHU’s Department of Computer Science has won the Championship in the online group of the 2020-2021 ASC Student Supercomputer Challenge, outperforming more than 300 teams representing prestigious universities around the world. The team won the competition for second straight times following the victory in 2019.
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The award-winning team. Front row, beginning on left: Jerry Chou (advisor), Wang Tzuwen (team captain), Chang Chenghsun, and Hsiao Yicheng (coach); back row, beginning on left: Mou Chanyu, Chiang Liyuan, and Huang Wenyuan. (Photo: National Tsing Hua University)
ASC of China is one of the three most important worldwide supercomputer competitions for university teams along with the SCC of the United States, and the ISC of Germany. NTHU, currently ranking second in the world, is a force to be reckoned with in the circle of supercomputer competitions. The team also won several awards at SCC, including the Championship in 2010, 2011 and the Highest LINPACK Award in 2007, 2008, and 2014.
The team’s advisor was Professor Jerry Chou. He said that supercomputer competitions hone students’ ability to use software and hardware in solving various real-world problems. In addition to basic skills, participants must also have a strong knowledge of various related fields and know how to apply it in different situations—a strength which his teams have consistently demonstrated over the years.
This year’s team consisted of juniors Wang Tzuwen, Huang Wenyuan, and Chang Chenghsun, and sophomores Mou Chanyu and Chiang Liyuan. Team captain Wang Tzuwen said that the team began preparing for the competition in the summer of 2019, with training provided by senior classmates Hsiao Yicheng and Lin Ente. During this year’s winter vacation, they began preparing for the preliminaries, training for more than ten hours a day.
Wang said that competing online was more challenging, because the cloud platform wasn’t made available until the competition began. In addition to deciding on the optimal division of labor, the team had to quickly install and become familiar with the software so that they could start their computations.
Wang and Huang tackled the topic on artificial intelligence by using the BERT language model to enable the computer to do a cloze test. They were finished within an hour, and their work was scored at 85% for accuracy.
Mou and Chang handled the topic on pulsar searching. They successfully completed the task in two hours by searching about 160GB of data from an astronomical telescope. As it turns out, Mou took a course in astronomy during his sophomore year, and thus had the background necessary for understanding the topic and devising an efficient formula.
Chiang was tasked with the topic on quantum computer simulation. He learned that the amount of memory required to run the program was far more than anticipated right before the competition started, so he had to rewrite the program on the spot, which he found both challenging and exciting.