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Monday, January 15, 2024

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WCPM Seminar: Garth Wells (Cambridge)
A205B, School of Engineering

Solving differential equations at the exascale
Garth N. Wells, University of Cambridge

Abstract: I will discuss the development of finite element algorithms and implementations for a range of applications on exascale hardware. When considering accelerators it is helpful to reflect on past attempts (since the honest efforts generally failed!) to assess why performance was disappointing. I will argue that the disappointing performance was due to a failure to assess the suitability of algorithms end-to-end; focusing on accelerating one step in a sequence of otherwise established of algorithms over-constrains approaches and dooms them to failure. Improved mathematical and algorithmic understanding now allows us to exploit exascale-type hardware efficiently. Also on the upside, I will show that recent developments in compiler technologies have made it much easier to develop high performance finite element kernels without non-standard language extensions, with excellent measured performance assessed against performance models. To make developments accessible, I will also touch upon the open-source FEniCS Project ( and its approach to creating high-level, high-performance software implementations.

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