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CS CAP Seminar: Jonathan Ragan Kelley, "Programming Systems for High-Performance Visual Computing"

Event Type
Saugata Ghose
2405 Siebel Center
wifi event
Dec 6, 2022   4:00 pm  
Originating Calendar
Computer Science Speakers Calendar

We look forward to seeing you in person or via zoom on Tuesday, December 6, at 4:00pm. Join in person at 2405 Siebel Center for Computer Science, 201 N. Goodwin Ave or via zoom, 


In the face of declining returns to Moore’s law, future visual computing applications—from photorealistic real-time rendering, to 4D light field cameras, to pervasive sensing with deep learning—still demand orders of magnitude more computation than we currently have. From data centers to mobile devices, performance and energy scaling is limited by locality (the distance over which data has to move, e.g., from nearby caches, far away main memory, or across networks) and parallelism. Because of this, I argue that we should think of the performance and efficiency of an application as determined not just by the algorithm and the hardware on which it runs, but critically also by the organization of its computations and data. For algorithms with the same complexity—even the exact same set of arithmetic operations—the order and granularity of execution and placement of data can easily change performance by an order of magnitude because of locality and parallelism. To extract the full potential of our machines, we must treat the organization of computation as a first-class concern, while working across all levels, from algorithms and data structures, to programming languages, to hardware.

This talk will present facets of this philosophy in systems for image processing, 3D graphics, and machine learning. I will show that, for the data-parallel pipelines common in these data-intensive applications, the possible organizations of computations and data, and the effect they have on performance, are driven by the fundamental dependencies in a given problem. Then I will show how, by exploiting domain knowledge to define structured spaces of possible organizations and dependencies, we can enable radically simpler high-performance programs, smarter compilers, and more efficient hardware. Finally, I will show how we use these structured spaces to unlock the power of machine learning for optimizing systems.


Jonathan Ragan-Kelley is the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science at MIT. He works on high-efficiency visual computing, including systems, compilers, and architectures for image processing, vision, 3D rendering, simulation, and machine learning. He is a recipient of the ACM SIGGRAPH Significant New Researcher award, NSF CAREER award, Intel Outstanding Researcher award, and two CACM Research Highlights. He was previously a visiting researcher at Google, a postdoc in Computer Science at Stanford, and earned his PhD in Computer Science from MIT in 2014. He co-created the Halide language and has built more than a half-dozen other DSL and compiler systems, the first of which was a finalist for an Academy technical achievement award.

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