Welcome and Keynote: Science in the Cloud


May 7, 2012


Recent trends in science have made computational capabilities an essential part of scientific discovery. This is often referred to as enhanced scientific discovery, or eScience. eScience has been an integral part of high energy physics for several decades due to the complexity and volume of data produced by experiments. In the 1990s, eScience become central to biology with the sequencing of the human genome. More recently, eScience has become integral to neuroscience to understand neural circuits and human behavior.

It Joseph Hellerstein’s view that the demands of 21st century science will mean that eScience is largely done in the cloud. There are several reasons for this. Foremost, many of the computing requirements of scientists are bursty, requiring massive capabilities for short periods of time. This requirement is well suited to the cloud. Second, 21st century science will frequently require the publication of large datasets such as the Allen Institute’s Brain Atlas and the world wide network of genomics data. Hosting these datasets in public clouds will be much easier than requiring individual scientists (or even universities) to build their own data hosting systems. Third, progress in science increasingly requires collaborations among many distributed groups. The cloud can greatly facilitate these collaborations.

This talk at Cloud Futures 2012 discusses the requirements for science in the cloud, and efforts underway to address these requirements. Hellerstein will provide considerable detail about Google’s Exacycle project that is donating one billion core hours to scientific discovery in molecular modeling, drug analysis, and astronomy.


Joseph Hellerstein and Tony Hey

As corporate vice president of the External Research Division of Microsoft Research, Tony Hey is responsible for the worldwide external research and technical computing strategy across Microsoft Corporation. He leads the company’s efforts to build long-term public-private partnerships with global scientific and engineering communities, spanning broad reach and in-depth engagements with academic and research institutions, related government agencies and industry partners. His responsibilities also include working with internal Microsoft groups to build future technologies and products that will transform computing for scientific and engineering research. Hey also oversees Microsoft Research’s efforts to enhance the quality of higher education around the world.

Before joining Microsoft, Hey served as director of the U.K.’s e-Science Initiative, managing the government’s efforts to provide scientists and researchers with access to key computing technologies. Before leading this initiative, Hey worked as Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science; and, Dean of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Southampton, where he helped build the department into one of the most respected computer science research institutions in England.

His research interests focus on parallel programming for parallel systems built from mainstream commodity components. With Jack Dongarra, Rolf Hempel and David Walker, he wrote the first draft of a specification for a new message-passing standard called MPI. This initiated the process that led to the successful MPI standard of today.

Hey is a fellow of the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering. He also has served on several national committees in the U.K., including committees of the U.K. Department of Trade and Industry and the Office of Science and Technology. He was a member of the British Computer Society, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, and the Institute of Physics.

Tony Hey also has a passionate interest in communicating the excitement of science to young people. He has written ‘popular’ books on quantum mechanics and on relativity.

Hey is a graduate of Oxford University, with both an undergraduate degree in physics and a doctorate in theoretical physics.


  • Portrait of Dennis Gannon

    Dennis Gannon

  • Portrait of Tony Hey

    Tony Hey