Curtin Malaysia team competing in 2020 APAC HPC and AI Competition

Miri – 8 July 2020 – A student team from Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) is one of two teams representing Malaysia in the ongoing third annual APAC HPC-AI (Asia Pacific High Performance Computing – Artificial Intelligence) Competition running from 20 May to 15 October 2020.

The 2020 APAC HPC-AI Competition, co-organised by the HPC-AI Advisory Council (HPCAIAC) and the Singapore National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC), encourages international teams in Asia Pacific to showcase their mastery of high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) expertise in a friendly yet spirited competition that builds critical skills, professional relationships, competitive spirit and lifelong comraderie.

This year’s all remote competition is seeing a record number of teams (30 in total) comprising undergraduate and graduate competitors from some of Asia Pacific’s leading academic institutions. The countries and regions represented are Malaysia, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand.

The Curtin Malaysia team comprises 8 undergraduate and two postgraduate students, namely fourth-year electronic and communication engineering student (and team leader) Tay Chuan Zhi; third-year electrical and electronic engineering students Saad Mahmud, John Julius Danker Khoo and Solomon Haw Wei Wern; second-year electrical and electronic engineering students Koh Say Kit, Gan Ting Yu, Sia Chun Wan and Adelson Chee Lok Thien; and PhD students Jonathan Phang Then Sien and Chiam Dar Hung.

Coaching the team is Associate Professor Garenth Lim King Hann of Curtin Malaysia’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Combining classical and novel challenges, the competition includes ‘real world’ scenarios that will test each team’s combined knowledge and skills in natural language processing (BERT) and climate simulation (NEMO).

As part of this year’s competition, the HPCAIAC and NSCC have joined the global fight against COVID-19 and have expanded the competition to address education and applied learning towards accelerating bioscience research and discovery. The participating teams will be tasked to research, find and choose an HPC or AI application that can potentially be used to aid researchers design new drugs and vaccines to combat COVID-19 and better prepare them to provide solutions to future global issues.

The list of competitive teams was finalised by the HPCAIAC on 5 June 2020 and all teams are required to submit their presentation slides and code before 15 October 2020. The presentation review is scheduled from 26 October to 6 November 2020 via video conference and each team will have 30 minutes to present and 30 minutes for Q&A.

The winning teams will be announced at the Supercomputing Conference 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA this November, followed by an official award ceremony at the SupercomputingAsia 2021 (SCA21) Conference which is scheduled for March 2021 in Singapore. The champion team will go on to compete in the 2021 ISC-HPCAIAC Student Cluster Competition in Frankfurt, Germany next June.

Team leader Tay said HPC for data processing is crucial nowadays, particularly for data analysis in research projects, as there is simply so much data to work with.

“The APAC HPC-AI competition gives students the opportunity to not only compete but also learn. It gives us the chance to engage in big data analytics that can be beneficial to our future careers,” Tay remarked.

Tay’s teammate Khoo, meanwhile, said, “This is my first time participating in an international competition in the field of HPC and AI. I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge and applying my practical skills in the real world challenges alongside my teammates.”

According to Associate Professor Lim, the APAC HPC-AI Competition exposes students to real-world disciplines and encourages new ways of thinking and tackling problems. Besides gaining valuable practical experience, they will develop the potential to make a major contribution in solving industrial challenges and shape their own successful outcomes in the future, he said.

Associate Professor Lim added that fast computing is currently the global trend of managing big data for industrial problems, and the application of AI is widely used for many kinds of automation processes to achieve human-level performance.

“This competition is a good motivation for our students to understand the importance of big data analytics using fast computing to handle industrial problems. We hope to develop a computational intelligence hub for big data management at Curtin Malaysia in the near future and our students will play a huge role there,” he said.

This year’s APAC HPC-AI Competition is sponsored by AMD, NVIDIA and WekaIO with additional support from the Singapore Advanced Research and Education Network.

Founded in 2008, the HPC-AIAC is a for community benefit organisation with over 400 members committed to promoting HPC and AI through education and outreach. Its mission is to provide the latest technological information, to help bridge the gap between HPC and AI uses and potential, and to demonstrate the beneficial capabilities of HPC and AI to new users for better research, education, innovation, product manufacturing, and help enable scientific and medical breakthroughs.

Established in 2015, the Singapore NSCC manages Singapore’s first national Petascale facility providing HPC resources. As a National Research Infrastructure, the NSCC supports private and public sector research by commercial companies, government agencies as well as higher learning and research institutes, as well as catalyses national research and development initiatives, attracts industrial research collaborations and enhances Singapore’s research capabilities.

Members of the Curtin Malaysia team competing in APAC HPC-AI 2020.

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