Award to Provide Major Upgrade for Big Data Research

Justin Zhan
Photo Submitted

Justin Zhan

Funding from the Army will allow a faculty member from the Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering to build a device that can process huge data sets more than 100 times faster than previous technology.

Justin Zhan, an Arkansas Research Alliance Scholar and professor of data science, will build a GPU cluster, a network of computers equipped with graphics processing units, that can perform calculations at least 100 times faster than a central processing unit, or CPU.

The GPU provides an advantage because it processes data in parallel, while the older CPU processes it sequentially. That means the CPU performs one calculation at a time, then moves on to the next. The GPU can perform 100 calculations simultaneously.

Zhan, who joined the faculty in August, was awarded $200,000 from the Army Research Office to build a GPU cluster to be used for big data research and education at the University of Arkansas. He said the device is key for expanding the breadth of data research at the U of A.

"This GPU cluster will be used for data-intensive research," Zhan said. "Deep learning, AI, these concepts can be used in many different areas — biomedical computing, neuroscience, quantum computing. It also has uses in industries like agriculture, education, any area that can benefit from being able to analyze large amounts of data."

The medical field, humanities researchers and business community also stand to benefit, he said.

"When we deal with large networks like social networks or biological networks, there's an enormous number of nodes and linkages among those nodes," Zhan said. "If you think about that as a graphic, that represents a colossal graph. How do we analyze those efficiently? That's been a challenge for two decades. This project is trying to provide a facility that allows us to analyze and alleviate those problems."

Courses in deep learning and big data analytics will especially benefit from the technology, he said. Deep learning is part of a broader family of machine learning methods based on artificial neural networks to process information.

"This will be a significant contribution to the state plan for data analytics and data science, and will be a boost to the University of Arkansas and we work to expand our capabilities in these areas," he said.

Zhan said he plans to pursue more grants to expand the cluster.

Contacts

Nick DeMoss, director of communications
College of Engineering
479-575-5697, ndemoss@uark.edu

Headlines

Native American Agriculture Fund's Johnson Speaking for Crop Science Seminar Series

Michael Kotutwa Johnson, research associate with the Native American Agriculture Fund, will talk about the "Continuity of Hopi Agriculture" at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27, in Plant Science Building 009.

Impactful Generosity: Remembering the Life of Marilyn Bogle

Longtime contributor, supporter and friend of the U of A and Razorback Athletics, Marilyn Bogle passed away Thursday.

NIH Supports Engineering Researchers to Improve Heart Procedures and Surgeries

A team of researchers and medical professionals has been awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a better way of using images of the heart in surgery planning.

Get Tickets for Chinese Student and Scholars Association Chinese New Year Festival

Students can get their free tickets and non-students can purchase tickets from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 27-28, in front of the Arkansas Union Food Court.

Phishing Scam Hitting Campus Email

The latest phishing scam threatens to terminate Office 365 email unless the recipient verifies their account details. Get tips to avoid phishing scams and find out what to do if you have clicked on one.

Newswire Daily