Meet CSE Edmond Chow

Meet CSE Profile: Professor Edmond Chow

2022 has been a busy year for School of Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) Professor Edmond Chow. He was promoted to professor and co-chaired the annual meeting for the Society for Industrial and Applied mathematics (SIAM), all while teaching classes, advising students, and serving as an associate chair for the School of CSE.

Chow recently attended the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis (SC22) where he presented research and chaired a finalist session for the Gordon Bell Special Prize for COVID-19 research. Upon his return to Atlanta, we sat down with him to reflect on a memorable year and his tenure with the School of CSE.  

Faculty: Edmond Chow

Position: School of CSE Professor and Associate Chair

Research Interests: Numerical methods for high-performance computers applied to scientific computing and data science problems

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Tell us a bit about your research: I’ve always been interested in science, mathematics, and computing. My research brings all these things together: using mathematical models of physical phenomena and solving these models on a computer. It turns out that the computational expense of solving these models is very high, so we need to efficiently use large, parallel computers. Designing algorithms for solving mathematical models that can run efficiently on complex, high-performance computers is the focus of my research. Useful results in this area can enable computational scientists to understand nature in ways that they couldn’t before.

How did you first become interested in numerical methods? In high school, I was curious about how computers knew how to compute elementary functions, such as sine and cosine. Then I became interested in writing a program that could compute pi to thousands of decimal places. I did not know it at the time, but numerical methods are about how to compute an accurate result without having roundoff error on a computer spoiling your answer. Many methods that are used are surprisingly elegant.

The School of CSE was originally founded as a division in 2005. You came to Georgia Tech in 2010, the same year the CSE Division became the School of CSE. What initially attracted you to Georgia Tech? Georgia Tech had the vision to establish CSE as a separate unit different from computer science and mathematics. Almost no other universities have done that. I admired what Georgia Tech was doing and the people already in CSE at that time. I could not picture myself as a professor in a computer science or math department, but CSE is exactly what I’m trained for and what I want to do.

And what has kept you here for the past 12 years? Using computing to help solve problems in science and engineering is an incredibly fruitful approach to addressing many of the world’s problems, and thus the world needs more people working in computational science and engineering. This was very clear to me in my industrial and laboratory positions before coming to Georgia Tech. Advancing the field of CSE and training students to work in CSE areas are the main reasons I’m here.

You were recently selected as a SIAM Fellow in 2021. What does becoming a fellow mean to you? SIAM has built a community to promote industrial, applied, and computational mathematics, and has given me and others a lot of opportunities to meet people, and for leadership. I’m proud to be part of this community and effort, and it is an honor to be recognized by my peers for my work.

This year at SC22, you and one of your students, Hua Huang, presented a new algorithm called CA3DMM. What should people know about this? CA3DMM is a fast way to perform matrix multiplication on large, distributed memory parallel computers. It’s a lot simpler than comparable state-of-the-art algorithms. The problem was motivated while working with collaborators in computational chemistry. Cross-disciplinary collaborations are a great way to find important problems and interesting ideas.

You’ve been serving as an associate chair for the School of CSE for a little more than a year. What does this role mean for you? This role has helped me see the huge effort it takes among many people to create an environment that fosters learning and research. This effort underscores the service and dedication that is required to sustain or grow such an environment. It has helped me see the excitement that leaders have here about the great things and great possibilities at Georgia Tech.

What are some advantageous or unique aspects of living and working in Atlanta? This is obvious – in the past ten years, even during the pandemic, there has been incredible growth in the midtown area around Georgia Tech. This comes with construction of shiny new buildings and businesses, attracting technical and non-technical people alike. Also, the food scene has become diverse and plentiful in Atlanta. I can also say that Atlanta is becoming friendlier to people on bikes, like me.

What are some of your hobbies? I like playing badminton and squash. During the pandemic, I became interested in making things with microcontrollers. I’ve also recently restarted reading books that don’t contain equations.