Disputatio of Barcelona 2017

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On 23 November 2017, from 19.00 to 20.30 h, the Disputatio of Barcelona 2017 will be held in the Institute for Catalan Studies (Prat de la Riba Hall).

The topic discussed will be “SUPERCOMPUTERS: An instrument for science, technology and the progress of society.” The debate will be coordinated by Enric Banda ( BSC) and Fabrizio Gagliardi (BSC), who will introduce the disputantes and manage the Colloquium.

The two scholars (disputantes) discussing different perspectives of the topic will be Mateo Valero, director of the Super Computing Center of Barcelona (BSC), who will present the “science and technology” aspects, and Alison Kennedy, director of the STFC Hartree Centre (Daresbury, Warrington, UK), who will present the “progress of the society” aspects. 


Mateo Valero, Director at BSC

Abstract of his discussion
Supercomputers have been often compared to other scientific instruments such as telescopes, particle accelerators, microscopes etc. They are expensive to build and maintain, they serve a wide scientific community and produce large amounts of data. Like all those other instruments, they are essential enablers of big science, which requires complex natural phenomena simulation and a large amount of data processing. Good examples are precise medicine, climate and weather monitoring and prediction, and development of new materials. In the discussion I will describe the potential for a level of precise modelling enabled by Exascale computing, inconceivable so far, and the technical and economic challenges in achieving it. I will also review the current plans in Europe to develop over the next several years an entire European HPC stack software and hardware, including a low power HPC processor. To this end 7 first European countries signed an agreement, EuroHPC, in Rome on March 23rd this year. The European Union and its member states felt that without a European supercomputer entirely designed with European technology and competitive enough to be in the top 3 supercomputers in the world, the very same independence and security of Europe will be compromised. BSC is leading this effort with a strong contribution from the major European industrial players in France, Germany, Italy and other countries. The first Exascale system is planned for 2023.

Alison Kennedy, Director at Hartree Centre

Abstract of her discussion
“Supercomputers and the progress of society.” Europe has an ambitious challenge-led programme of research that reflects the policy priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy and addresses major concerns shared by citizens of Europe and elsewhere. Supercomputers enable sophisticated computer simulation and modelling and complex data analysis across a range of data sources to be undertaken. They play an increasingly important role in helping us to study and solve societal problems and challenges that are too big, too complex, or which extend over too long a period of time, to be tackled by traditional methods such as observation or experiment. Priority areas for Europe include:

  • Health, demographic change and wellbeing;
  • Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and inland water research;
  • Secure, clean and efficient energy;
  • Smart, green and integrated transport;
  • Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials;
  • Europe in a changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective societies;
  • Secure societies - protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens.

The debate will be followed by a Colloquium with the audience, in which the attendants will address questions of relevance to both disputantes.

From 20.30 to 21.30 there will be a social drink in the Cloister of the IEC

Attendance is free, but we recommend previous registration by sending an email to Doina Bird, Hub Manager ( , or ), to be guaranteed a seat in the main Hall.

Furhter information

Barcelona Knowledge Hub: http://barcelona.acadeuro.org/
Academia Europaea: http://acadeuro.org; http://ae-info.org