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Advancing Literacy Research

Advancing literacy research

By Chantall Van Raay

With a high-speed supercomputer in a new Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network (CLLRNet) facility, research on child cognitive development will accelerate.

Psychology professor Marc Joanisse, for example, says he will develop better theories of child language and reading impairments a lot faster thanks to the system. Ultimately, he hopes this will lead to better treatments for these disorders.

Joanisse, who studies these impairments using a type of computer model called 'connectionist models', says CLLRNet's new facility will give him full-time access to high-speed computers that are dedicated to his research.

'In the past, access to these systems has been limited because there is so much demand for time on these types of systems, and they are often very expensive to use,' he says. The system will let him develop projects that are too big for smaller computer clusters, he says.

Joanisse will help introduce the new CLLRNet Computational Modeling Core Facility and the Polaris Cluster at a workshop Friday at the National Centre for Audiology at Western.

The workshop will allow researchers to see the hardware, tour the facility and talk to those involved in the project. It will also benefit those interested in developing a similar application themselves, says CLLRNet Technical Services Manager Aaron Finkenzeller, involved in the project's design and set-up. Finkenzeller will provide an overview of CLLRNet at the workshop.

The 'Beowulf' supercomputer will promote sharing of information among Canadian researchers who do research in modeling cognitive processes, says Joanisse. He adds it provides them with a top-notch facility for using high performance computers and a mechanism for exchanging ideas and information. 'This facility will also help train the next generation of Canadian scientists who do this type of research, through training workshops and bursaries.'

The initiative is a shared resource with the Centre for Brain and Mind, which has contributed hardware to the facility. 'It was the best of both worlds for both groups,' says Joanisse, 'since it allows both groups access to the bigger computer, and helps strengthen the ties between CLLRNet and the Centre for Brain and Mind.'

The facility consists of a 20-node 'Beowulf' computing cluster that will be available to researchers interested in developing computational models of language and reading.

The workshop will be held on Friday, April 26, from 1 to 3 p.m. in Siemens Seminar Room 1219, National Centre for Audiology, Elborn College.

For further information about CLLRNet visit

LAST MODIFIED: November 06 2003 10:09:15

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