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To Be or Not to Be—SC21 Keynote Speaker and “Father of the Internet” Unlocks the Power of HPC and Computational Humanities

In the supercomputing world, we are all familiar with the transformative impact of computational science to simulate physical and biological processes that help us address various phenomena.

But the use of the massive compute power of high performance computing (HPC) goes beyond science, paving the way for discoveries across other disciplines.

Vint Cerf, one of the “Fathers of the Internet,” who co-designed the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet, envisions a world where HPC can be applied to other, non-traditional use cases such as computational humanities or the computational future of text. These areas can help academics and literati deeply understand the nuances of art and literature.

I am honored to announce that Dr. Cerf will join us as our keynote speaker for SC21 to share his perspective on how advanced computing may have a similar groundbreaking effect on how we can better appreciate and understand the study of languages and literatures, the arts, history, and philosophy.

“Imagine for a moment that the power of computing that allows us to understand and simulate atomic and subatomic processes could be applied to a deeper understanding of art and literature?” says Cerf.

“The more we capture text and imagery in digital form,” he adds, “the more we are able to apply novel analytic tools to understand and appreciate these works from unique perspectives.”

To be, or … not?

During his Tuesday keynote, Cerf will spotlight some of the breakthrough work in this field, such as that of Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, who has pioneered the use of computing to analyze texts by William Shakespeare digitally.

One of Witmore’s studies shows how the simple words “if, and, but” parse Shakespeare’s plays into histories, tragedies and comedies. “Such a revelation is difficult to impossible to discern without the help of computing tools. Supercomputing is providing us with a kind of intellectual x-ray vision not even within Superman’s capacity,” notes Cerf.

Keynote attendees will also hear Cerf share examples of how HPC and other advanced computational methods are being used to reassemble decaying ruins, resurrect ancient monuments, and appreciate the architectural durability of long-lived gothic cathedrals.

(Read more stories about The Humanities and HPC on the SC21 blog.)

Cerf: An Internet Pioneer

Vint Cerf

Vint Cerf

Early in his career, Cerf worked at the United States Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) playing a key role in leading the development of Internet and Internet-related data packet and security technologies. As vice president of MCI Digital Information Services from 1982-1986, he led the engineering of MCI Mail, the first commercial email service to be connected to the Internet.

Founding president of and, later, chairman of the board of the Internet Society, Cerf has also served as chairman of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) from 2000-2007, and as the president of the Association for Computing Machinery from 2012-2014

Since 2005, he has served as vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google, where he is responsible for identifying new enabling technologies to support the development of advanced, Internet-based products and services.

Cerf has earned countless awards and recognitions. In 1997, President Bill Clinton presented him and colleague Robert E. Kahn the U.S. National Medal of Technology for founding and developing the Internet. In 2004, Cerf was the recipient of the ACM Alan M. Turing Award, and in 2005 he was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George Bush.

We are honored to have Vint Cerf, one of the most brilliant minds in computing, deliver our keynote address. My thanks to Keynote Chair Jack Dongarra and his team for securing his participation.

Watch and Hear the “Father of the Internet” Deliver the SC21 Keynote

Vint Cerf will deliver the SC21 keynote address, “Computing and the Humanities,” on Tuesday, November 16, 2021, at 8:30 am CST in the South Dome of America’s Center. All registered SC21 attendees and exhibitors—whether in-person or remote—are welcome to attend.

Bronis R. de Supinski, SC21 General Chair

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