1.1 - How broad is the scope of the program?
It is as broad as the ASC program's scope. You have an open period when you can contact the lab personnel and find out what they are interested in (and we encourage you to do that). See the presentation by Bob Webster for a list of topics that ASC is not interested in supporting.
1.2 - There are three major components: science/simulation, V&V/UQ and Exascale. Is Exascale a third of the project? Should the funding be evenly split
No, there is no requirement for an even split. Exascale computing is a significant piece of the proposal and, as such, it will need resources commensurate with a significant piece and the proposed research. The important idea is not to present stovepipes of research (see Dick Watson's talk). If you conclude you do not have all the skills needed in one of the major components within your university then you may have to look for a team partner.
1.3 - Can the proposed application be more of a discipline?
If the application is a discipline, it may be more appropriate as an SDC than an MSC. We want to see all separate threads of research demonstrated in a single (or series of) computation(s) that link and feed information to one another, year by year, in a five-year milestone plan. See the discussion of Single Discipline Centers in Nels Hoffman's talk.
1.4 - Does the application have to be of specific interest to the DOE labs?
Pay attention to two slides at the end of the presentation given by Bob Webster (LANL) identifying technical areas of interest (and not of interest) to the NNSA ASC Program. Remember that we are interested in relevant methodologies, science, engineering discoveries and training of students.
1.5 - What is the anticipated number of awards?
We do not know at this time. It will depend on the Congressional Appropriations process.
1.6 - Would you award more than one Center to a given university?
Senior NNSA managers will have to make that decision. The team that manages the ASC Alliance program and review panels examining full proposals will evaluate only the technical merits of the proposals and then make recommendations to upper NNSA ASC management.
1.7 - When do you expect to issue the RFI, and how much time will be allowed for responses?
We expect to issue the RFI in mid to late June. We are considering a time period of about five or six weeks for you to put your pre-proposal responses together. Total technical content for pre-proposal responses should be ~10 pages max (and there will be a minimum-font-size requirement). The PSAAP II Request for Proposals (RFP) will be issued early in 2012.
1.8 - Can there be multiple pre-proposals submitted by universities?
Yes, but a word of caution – you will find that putting these teams together can be laborious. Furthermore, an individual can be lead PI only on one pre-proposal, but can participate in others as a team member or collaborator.
1.9 - You say that universities may submit multiple responses to the RFI. Can a campus also submit multiple proposals in response to the RFP?
We have not decided that yet, and it will depend partly on what we see in the RFI responses. The Request for Proposals (RFP) we plan to issue in early CY2012 will make this clear.
1.10 - In the RFI response, if a university proposes an MSC and the review panel feels it should be an SDC (or vice versa), will the university be informed?
We expect feedback from the RFI process would provide guidance on whether the proposal fits better as an MSC or SDC.
1.11 - Could a university submit a proposal for an SDC that is also included in another proposal as a component of an MSC that would be led by another institution?
Remember that an SDC must propose a significant science/engineering advance or V&V/UQ advance, which might be inconsistent with what an MSC could achieve. Nevertheless, it depends on the characteristics of the proposed activity. The two proposals would be reviewed separately as individual proposals, and the feedback would be based on that fact. Reviewers will read multiple pre-proposals. We want to be helpful to you as part of the pre-proposal phase and try to understand why you did what you did. But, if we are confused then you will likely receive feedback that is confusing to you.
1.12 - Will you broker ties between MSCs and relevant SDCs?
We will not be involved in any brokering at the pre-proposal and full proposal stages. After awards are made, we will help centers make contacts with others who might have something to contribute to each other. Thus at the pre-proposal and full proposal stages, you must make the connections required to develop your submission to make it as strong a response as possible.
1.13 - Are multi-university centers encouraged (or allowed)?
We encourage that you put the pieces together that make the strongest possible proposal and recognize that there will be an extra load on the program associated with the complexities of working with multiple universities. You will have to show the reviewers that it makes sense and that you can manage it.
1.14 - Do you have any guidelines on whether proposing teams should consist of single universities versus multiple universities?
NNSA will not dictate how teams should be put together or resources should be allocated among team members. That decision is up to the proposal teams. When the full proposals are evaluated, an important consideration will be on planned resource allocations and the commensurate budget. Teaming is permitted but a single point of responsibility (i.e. one lead PI and his/her associated university) must be identified for the team effort. We do recognize that some institutions do not have all the capabilities in-house to cover the large scope of PSAAP II research, and so teaming with other institutions may be essential.
1.15 - Can the proposing team change after the RFI response?
The RFI is an opportunity for you to propose ideas. There is nothing binding in the RFI phase. You need not have attended the Pre-Proposal Conference and/or submitted a response to the RFI in order to respond to the RFP for the full proposals. There is no restriction on any team shuffling. When the PSAAP II Request for Proposals (RFP) is issued, everything starts over.
1.16 - Will the program start at the same time for MSCs and SDCs?
Yes, that's our plan.
1.17 - What will be used to measure whether a proposed Center will be successful or not?
The RFI and FOA will spell out in more details the answer to your question. In general both for MSCs and SDCs will need to demonstrate their advances through some integrated simulation. We will ask you to describe your proposed goals and milestones. You will need to tell us what you will do each year that makes your proposal a compelling contribution toward your goals and those of PSAAP II. Further, you will be asked to demonstrate your Exascale computer science advances in the context of your simulation work.
1.18 - Will there be a down select between the pre-proposal and proposal phase?
There will be no down-select in terms of restricting the submission of full proposals. Our intent for the RFI responses is to help the proposing teams strengthen and work towards full proposals. There will not be a go/no-go decision with respect to whether or not those responding to the RFI should (or should not) submit proposals, but we will advise proposing teams whether we consider them to be competitive or not for the RFP phase. If you do not respond to the RFI, you can still respond to the RFP (but you will not have received feedback from us).
2. Questions about Interacting with NNSA Laboratories
2.1 - How should universities approach discussions with the labs?
Because we plan to give constructive feedback to RFI respondents, we would encourage that you reach out to our lab experts and ask questions (keeping in mind that what you will hear are their opinions, not guidance on what you should submit). We want you to work on your problems within your own team's capabilities. You should engage the labs as you put together your responses but recognize that lab personnel do not represent the national ASC program. We will ask you to name lab collaborators in your pre-proposals (and proposals), and we will consider those individuals to be conflicted (so they will not be allowed to serve on pre-proposal or proposal evaluation panels). Once we have selected awardees, we will help to build strong connections between our centers and our labs (to maximize the intellectual exchange).
2.2 - Please comment on the preferred depth of relationship with labs. Should the Team plan to interact broadly with all three labs? Or, focus on working deeply with one lab?
Generally speaking, broad is better than deep. But, there could be a particular lab with a special experiment or a specific interest relevant to what is being proposed. There can be exceptions. We recognize that you have only a short time to respond to the RFI. Developing relationships with the labs is not a requirement for your RFI response.
2.3 - Please clarify the difference between collaborators and plans for interacting with the labs.
There are different types of collaboration and interaction relationships. A collaboration involves joint work related to the research and goals of the project. Interactions can be of many forms; for example student and staff visits to the labs and lab staff giving seminars at your university or participating on student research committees. We will provide more specific guidance in the RFI on such relationships and will ask you to describe your plan for interacting with the labs (e.g. student visits, identification of particular groups at the labs you would like us to help you work with for technical exchanges, if your proposal is funded). If your proposal depends on a lab's products and collaborative research to meet your goals, we will follow up with lab personnel to verify their intent to work with you, but beware that you can never count on future lab contributions.
2.4 - What about submitting letters of support from the labs as part of our pre-proposal and/or proposal response?
Letters of support will not be accepted as part of your pre-proposals or proposals.
2.5 - Do the communication blackout periods apply to all DP laboratory personnelm?
Communication blackouts apply only to those lab employees whose work is funded by ASC. Also, the communication blackouts with lab staff only apply to PSAAP II discussions and will not apply to any current lab collaborators you identify in your pre-proposal because they are considered to be part of the proposal team already.
2.6 - What can (and can’t) a proposer do with respect to relationships with other government laboratories?
We are most interested in fostering the computational and computer science departments, projects and programs at the universities. Funds for this program are not to go to NNSA labs, other DOE labs, NASA labs or other Federal agency labs, including FFRDCs. We appreciate that there are close working relationships between some universities and national labs. Your proposal will be evaluated on your own team's merit. A response that relies on collaborators that are unfunded - but on your proposed critical path - will raise a red flag. Our PSAAP II goal is to foster multi- physics, large-scale simulation and computing research at U.S. universities.
2.7 - What about a PI with joint appointments between universities and laboratories?
As a general principle, if any person (PI or not) gets the majority of their salary from a DOE laboratory, they would not be allowed to be funded from the project. If they get a majority of their salary from the university they would be allowed.
3. Questions about Using ASC Computing Platforms
3.1 - Will computational resources be made available, or should proposers expect to provide their own hardware?
We will make ASC's unclassified computing resources available, as we have in the previous two ASC Alliance programs. With Exascale computing, issues of availability and access to emulators and simulators will be important to some projects - and we will continue to work on that. As soon as the awardees are selected, we will work with you to make your Center a success.
3.2 - What computing resources are expected to be available in the 2013-2015 timeframe?
It's whatever unclassified ASC resources are available at the laboratories. PSAAP I Centers are allowed to use their PSAAP fund to purchase development clusters, and we would expect that to continue in PSAAP II. It will be up to the Center PI to appropriately allocate resources to different technical areas. We will try to make available whatever ASC unclassified computing resources we have on the floor.
3.3 - Have you decided what computer architecture you will seek in 2015?
Only when we know what will be approved for us to purchase, deploy and make available to our partners will we know the answer to this question. The general nature of architectural issues and unsolved Exascale problems are covered in Andy White's presentation and in the general, publicly available Exascale literature. Also, proposers can look at projections on the various system vendors' roadmaps, but the ASC program cannot say at this time what systems will be brought into the program in 2015.
4. Questions about Proposing Possible PSAAP II Work Scope
4.1 - How significant is the "advancement in science" that is being required?
The answer is somewhat different for MSCs and SDCs. An MSC is focused on demonstrating an advance in predictive science in the form of a large multidiscipline, integrated application. The overall advance may require a combination of advances in some Exascale-enabled piece of science, integration science, or UQ science, together with wider use of state-of-the-art techniques. The advance would consist of better predictive capability, showing up as predictions of a wider range of phenomena, higher predictive accuracy and with reduced uncertainty. On the other hand, an SDC is focused on scientific advances in a single discipline enabled by Exascale computing. The technical advance you propose should be compelling, and significant, and represent a qualitative step up in the discipline (i.e. not merely an incremental nudge). We recognize it is hard to look at a new tool such as exascale computing and explain at the outset what you are planning to do with it. Further, to make things more difficult, full wxascale computers won't be available during the life of this program, although precursors will be. We would like you to speculate about what new levels you can get to with exascale computing; the more compelling, the better, but be realistic. The computer science required to support exascale computing is part of the science being advanced (that is, exascale computing as demonstrated in the context of a science/engineering simulation).
4.2 - How do you demonstrate significant computer science contributions in three years?
Part of your job is to figure out how to do this and what it would take. As an example, if you are working in parallel I/O, then you would have a parallel I/O library that some piece of the code would use, and you would demonstrate how a significant aspect can been improved (e.g. speedup, extension to many-way parallelism). In another example, working within the context of a mini-app would be acceptable.
4.3 - Do you see performing validation experiments as one of the possible roles of the Center? Can we spend money doing so?
Yes, the idea of integrating V&V across the application should be part of what you are thinking. (It need not explore new ground, but should at least employ best practices). You can allocate resources for validation experiments if you believe they are warranted by the application you are proposing to study.
4.4 - Can we rely on experimental data that is resident at the labs?
You can do so, but at your own risk. If you are relying on an experiment that you do not control then you can be at the mercy of lab budgets and other priorities. Data from an experiment that has already been run is fine to use. It will be your responsibility to make sure you will be able to access the experimental data identified in your proposal.
4.5 - Is funding allowed for equipment purchases?
Yes, with the understanding that the equipment purchased is considered to be DOE equipment. There is a rule that all government-funded property must be returned to the program unless there is a waiver by the program (or no one in the DOE labs wants it).
4.6 - Would any computing equipment purchased on matching funds be considered as belonging to DOE?
No, that is not considered government funding.
4.7 - With PSAAP I, software frameworks were heavily discussed. Should this be part of the PSAAP II proposal?
The assumption is that a Center will not be built without a framework to coordinate and manage software components and put all of the pieces together. Doing so is now part of the art. Our assumption is that teams will use a framework; there are numerous options to begin with. We are not interested in seeing new frameworks being built unless it can be argued that they advance some aspect of Exascale.
4.8 - When will a representative sample of mini-apps be available?
One is available at https://software.sandia.gov/mantevo/index.html.
4.9 - You said the PSAAP I Centers had to propose a different application. How different is different?
It's different in that a new phenomenon occurs in the new proposed problem. If the old problem was steady state, the new one might be transient (as an example). If the old problem had a range of processes, the new problem might have a (significant) number of new processes. As one example, a PSAAP I Center that was computing the steady state response of an engineering system in which the flow was laminar might take on a new problem in which there is turbulence resulting from shock waves.
5. Questions about the Required 10% University Match
5.1 - The 10% matching is to be provided by the lead institution only?
How that is handled is up to the proposing team. There is a minimum 10% match on the total budget.
5.2 - Can matching funds be from other Federal agencies?
No, they cannot.
5.3 - Can I use my matching funds to fund research and/or experiments at another government lab in order to do a piece of my project?
Matching funds can be used to acquire validation data, which may include funding a particular experiment at another, non-NNSA gov't lab. We want your Center to be successful but we also want you to build capabilities in-house.
5.4 - Would the computational time offered up by local university computing facility count as real matching money?
You will have to talk with your financial office. The ASC program is required to audit your Center's cost sharing statements and you have to make sure your financial office sees that as a legitimate cost-sharing item. You should remember that a lot of your Center's code development work will have to be done locally and not on the ASC's open systems.
5.5 - Will more than 10% match count positively in the scoring?
It will be appreciated and will help us in our evaluation of the other unfunded collaborators, but it is not a requirement.
6. Miscellaneous Questions and Answers
6.1 - Can you provide details about publications from the PSAAP I Centers?
We encourage you to look at the PSAAP I Centers' web sites where you will see that information. There is also an ASAP Legacy document linked to the meeting web site that includes an abridged bibliography.
6.2 - Please comment on graduate student citizenship requirements.
Any university faculty, staff or student may work on a PSAAP II effort; however, no PSAAP II funding may be used to support any individual from sensitive foreign countries. Such individuals would have to be supported by the Center's cost share. Also, students from countries on the DOE sensitive countries list will likely not be able to visit the NNSA Labs nor access ASC lab computing resources, especially if they are working on an application associated with an ITAR-listed technology.
6.3 - Please address the UCNI issue.
Unclassified Controlled Nuclear Information (UCNI) presents a classification issue. Any type of shock-hydro coupled with high order radiation treatment (i.e. transport as opposed to diffusion) is considered an UCNI code that requires additional protection measures. If you plan to propose something like this and get funded, we will need to talk with you about protecting the source code and controlling who has access to that code.
6.4 - Are relationships with industry important in evaluating the proposals?
No, there is no expected component of the RFI or the RFP that would require interaction with industry. If such interaction makes the proposal stronger, it will be reviewed that way. No NNSA funds can be given to industry.
6.5 - Should universities propose to enter into partnerships with vendors?