Headshot of Patrick Flick

Alum is Recognized for Outstanding Dissertation in High-Performance Computing

School of Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) Ph.D. alumnus has been selected for the prestigious (ACM) SIGHPC Dissertation Award for 2020.

The winning alum, Patrick Flickis the first recipient in Georgia Tech history to receive the award which honors one outstanding doctoral dissertation focused on high-performance computing (HPC) research each year.

The winning dissertation, Parallel and Scalable Combinatorial String Algorithms on Distributed Memory Systems, offers a new approach to solve large-scale string and graph problems used throughout computational biology applications. The computational methods introduced in Flick’s work achieve efficient and scalable execution on large-scale distributed compute clusters, achieving solutions to increasingly larger problems.

Inspired by the advent of high-throughput DNA sequencing which enables generations of billions of reads per minute, and the growing need to find a computational approach that can keep pace, this research expands on prior theoretical approaches. The resulting algorithms and data structures implemented by Flick advance the state-of-the-art by providing improved theoretical complexity and better practical performance, while minimizing overall and per-node communication volume within a computer’s distributed memory architecture.

Ultimately, these findings offer a more efficient method to represent, construct, and query data structures for large-scale and memory intensive applications in text processing, information retrieval, and computational biology.

Flick joined CSE for his Ph.D. in 2014 under the guidance of CSE Professor and Interim Chair Srinivas Aluru.

According to Aluru, “Patrick's Ph.D. work addresses some notoriously difficult problems in parallel string algorithms, and his dissertation gets it just right by providing both theoretical optimality and practical efficiency. His work, all published in top forums in the field, has lasting value. It is gratifying to see him win this year's ACM SIGHPC Dissertation Award.”

Flick defended his thesis in March 2019 and officially graduated the following May. He is now a software engineer at Google. 

Flick’s previous successes include authoring the first paper used for the Student Cluster Reproducibility Challenge at Supercomputing 2016 and winning the Best Student Paper Award at Supercomputing 2015.

SIGHPC is the ACM’s special interest group that focuses on providing a platform for high-performance computing (HPC) research and efforts internationally. The ACM SIGHPC Dissertation Award pulls from this professional society in an effort to highlight innovative and prolific research in the supercomputing and parallel processing fields.  

The 2020 ACM SIGHPC Dissertation Award includes a $2,000 honorarium, travel support to the Supercomputing Conference, and an award plaque.