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Component Architectures for Rapid Application Development and Composition in a Networked Environment

The goal of the component architectures effort is to make application development easier through the use of modular codes that integrate powerful components at a high level of abstraction.

Through modularization and the existence of well-defined component boundaries (specified by programming interfaces), components allow scientists and software developers to focus on their own areas of expertise.  For example, components and modern scripting languages enable physicists to program at a high level of abstraction (by composing off-the-shelf components into an application), leaving the development of components to expert programmers.  In addition, because components foster a higher level of code reuse, components provide an increased economy of scale, making it possible for resources to be shifted to areas such as performance, testing, and platform dependencies, thus improving software quality, portability, and application performance.

A fundamental problem with this vision is that scientific application developers, particularly those at Los Alamos National Laboratory, cannot afford to sacrifice significant amounts of performance for this clearly useful functionality. Therefore, a central goal of the effort is to explore integration strategies that perform context-dependent optimizations automatically as a part of the integration process. This theme defines a significant portion of the research content of the work described in the remainder of this section.
The overarching goal of this activity is to develop component architectures and component libraries that can be used to support rapid prototyping of portable parallel and distributed applications and rapid reconfiguration of existing applications. These architectures would be the basis for frameworks for applying advanced compilation techniques, run-time system elements, and programming tools to prepare applications for execution on scalable parallel computer systems and distributed heterogeneous grids.
To succeed, this effort will need to accomplish two long-term goals.

  1. It must explore frameworks for integrating existing components rapidly and conveniently into complete applications. These frameworks must be able to produce efficient applications from scripts within reasonable compile times. In addition, they must be able to integrate components written in different languages, particularly Fortran and object-oriented languages like C++ and Java. Finally, the frameworks must support the generation of applications that execute with reasonable and reliable efficiency in a distributed computing environment.
  2. It must explore the design and implementation component libraries for use in science and engineering applications. Such libraries should be ideally suited for use in the rapid prototyping frameworks developed as part of this activity. The algorithms must be general, portable, and usable in a variety of situations. In addition, components themselves should be auto-tunable for high performance on new computing platforms.

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