Feb. 18, 2020

DSI sponsors LLNL hackathon

Holly Auten/LLNL

Since 2012, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL’s) Computing directorate has held hackathons three times a year. These spring, summer, and fall events are scheduled over 24 hours and invite software teams to work on new ideas, programming languages, open-source tools, or project tasks. Exploration and experimentation are highly encouraged, and “It’s OK to fail” is the event mantra.

Timo speaks to the audience to kick off the hackathon
Photos by Randy Wong.

This year, a fourth hackathon was scheduled for the winter season. The Data Science Institute (DSI) agreed to sponsor the event held on January 30–31. DSI Council member Peer-Timo Bremer (pictured at left) kicked off the hackathon with remarks about DSI’s role at LLNL, encouraging hackathon participants to contact the DSI with suggestions for educational opportunities.

Many projects undertaken at the hackathon involved data science techniques or data analysis problems. For example, one team was inspired by applications of machine learning (ML) in medical imaging, so they used ML to label radiographs similar to those used for National Ignition Facility laser experiments. Another team created a template for ML models that helps non-experts generate pre-trained ML models.

Still another group explored a novel data visualization technique by replicating a probability impact diagram with Tableau software. One participant working alone demonstrated a stochastic game using Gaussian distribution. Another attendee expanded his knowledge of a Lab-developed data visualization software by rendering three-dimensional volumes from VTK (Visualization Toolkit) data files. A team of two used deep learning techniques to scrub noise from speech-based audio files.

DSI director Michael Goldman expressed his enthusiasm for the hackathon, saying, “Hackathons are a great way for seasoned and prospective data scientists alike to network with each other and make new connections, ignite creativity through work outside of their current projects, learn about other Lab resources, and try out new technologies.”

Michael Ward and Amar Saini organized the hackathon on behalf of the DSI. Special thanks go to administrators Jennifer Bellig, Brittany Robertson, and Tristan Jensen for ensuring the winter event ran smoothly and safely.