benjamin.day.smith

High Performance Computing

Controlling a supercomputer with a violin!

How can highly complex simulations and systems be effectively controlled in real-time? What sort of interactions are appropriate in a space with thousands of independant, or complexly connected coefficients and parameters? This work starts with a highly complex instrument, the violin, and an expert in its manipulation and control, a violinist. What happens if an interface is constructed such that the musician, through the creation of sound and music, is able to directly control the parameters of a supercomputer simulation?

A flocking simulation, with 50,000 agents, is run on Abe, a 9600 core supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and is rendered in real-time. Simultaneously data gathered from a live audio stream (from the violinist's microphone) is analyzed and mapped into the coefficients of the simulation.

Video of a demonstration/performance given at NCSA in 2010. Violin demonstration starts at 8'50", explanation and motivation starts at the beginning.