His third time playing was a charm. Dr. Alan Chalker, senior systems developer/engineer at the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), recently won the 14th semi-annual MATLAB Online Program Contest on Dec. 6, 2006.
Organized and sponsored by The MathWorks, the contest presents a unique problem to be solved by hundreds of on-line entries from around the world, each vying for the coveted top spot. The MathWorks is the world‘s leading developer of technical computing software for engineers and scientists in industry, government, and education.
MATLAB contests range from gene-sequencing, surveying planets, protein folding, to Sudoku.
In December’s contest, Chalker won a problem called “Blackbox,” participants couldn’t see inside the Blackbox, which was filled with items. Each one item had a point value. The box was square and divided into compartments, which could be empty or contain one item. Players could shine a virtual laser through the Blackbox to help determine what was inside. The goal was to determine the exact location and point value of each item in the box using the laser, which could be absorbed, deflected, or reflected back where it came from.
Chalker said MATLAB is in a class of high-level programming languages that also includes Python and JAVA. While lower level languages such as C, C++, Fortran, Pascal, COBOL are still used by many researchers in high performance computing, he said researchers are gradually transitioning to the higher-level languages, especially MATLAB, because it can be used to solve just about any computational science problem.
“At OSC, we’re experts in parallel MATLAB. We help contribute to the language by adding more functionality, and have created our own parallel MATLAB version in house, which now lets us make full use of parallel computing,” Chalker said. “We use MATLAB at OSC to do the majority of our Department of Defense contract projects.”
The next MATLAB contest is set for April 2007. Chalker said he intends to play again.
“It will be a brand new problem with brand new approaches, things to think about and types of algorithm analyses to perform that will make it an interesting competition,” Chalker said. “They (The MathWorks) mix it up, and they’re always coming up with interesting and creative ideas and ways to approach it.”
For details about Alan Chalker’s MATLAB Blackbox Contest win, go to
chalkerwinsblackbox. For more information about MATLAB and other software packages available at OSC, visit http://www.osc.edu/supercomputing/software. Or, contact OSC Help at firstname.lastname@example.org, 614-292-1800, or 1-800-686-6472.
About The MathWorks
Since its founding in 1984, The MathWorks has become the leading global provider of software for technical computing and Model-Based Design. Headquartered in Natick, Massachusetts, The MathWorks currently employs more than 1,500 people worldwide.
About Ohio Supercomputer Center
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2007, the Ohio Supercomputer Center is a catalytic partner of Ohio universities and industries to enable Ohio to compete for international, federal, and state funding, focusing on new research and business opportunities. It provides a reliable high performance computing and high performance communications infrastructure for a diverse statewide/regional community including education, academic research, industry, and state government. OSC promotes and stimulates computational research and education in order to act as a key enabler for the state's aspirations in advanced technology, information systems, and advanced industries. For additional information visit: http://www.osc.edu.