Historical

[ This is a copy of my old web page, way out of date, captured for posterity. Some dead links have been removed. ]

Acclaim for this web page!

“[Rob's web page] is elegant and minimalistic and badly out of date.” — Milo P.

Who?

Rob Ross. I used to say that “I’m XX years old…” here, but I only update this silly page like once a year, so let’s just say that I was born in ’72, and you can do the math if it’s important to you.

I spent a full ten years of my life at Clemson University. I had some really good times in Clemson, and met some great people. It kept me near enough to GA that I could still see a bunch of friends that I made while in high school too. I also snagged a Ph.D. from the Computer Engineering┬ádepartment before leaving; I wasn’t slacking off the entire time.

After spending most of my life in GA and SC, in September of 2000 I packed up all my stuff (ok, well, a bunch of moving guys packed up all my stuff) and moved to the suburbs of Chicago to work with the Mathematics and Computer Science┬áDivision at Argonne National Lab as a post-doc. This went really well, mainly because MCS is the best overall work environment I’ve ever seen. In September of 2002 I happily moved into an assistant scientist position, and a couple of years later I moved into a computer scientist position.

Ok, there are at least three reasons one might have arrived at this page. It might be that you’re interested in something that I have done as part of my work. I spend a lot of time at work, and I like to think that there are in fact people that are interested in what I’ve been up to. Coincidentally this is the also only legitimate reason for this page existing, since it’s sited at work, and indeed this stuff is next :) .

Then again, you might be looking for something more personal than my resume or a list of projects. I do try to keep busy outside of work, so I have some random things here that will probably give you a weird impression of me, but they’ll do.

Finally, you might coincidentally have a friend or relative, also named Rob Ross, who works on a kid’s show in Ireland. That sounds like a wonderful way to contribute to the betterment of society, but alas you got the wrong guy.

The Academic and Research Stuff

My primary research area is parallel I/O and parallel computing. I was the primary author of the first version of a parallel file system called the Parallel Virtual File System (PVFS), which I developed along with a number of others while at Clemson. This project has grown quite a bit since my graduate school days, and now I have the honor of leading colleagues at Argonne, Clemson, and Ohio Supercomputer Center in continuing the development of this system.

As an aside, PVFS is a terrible acronym. It does not roll off the tongue.

In case you have no idea what a parallel file system is about, basically a parallel file system is software used to store data for large computers that need to be able to move terabytes (or petabytes, which are rather larger) of data around very quickly. We’ve been able to move 10s of GBytes/sec with ours under good conditions, which is roughly like being able to pull a few DVD’s worth of data into your computer in a second. Needless to say, these have something
of a niche market :) .

If you’re interested in knowing more about the file system then check out the web pages, and if not I won’t bore you with the details.

While I was at Clemson I was a Goddard Graduate Student Research Fellow, and I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time at NASA Goddard working with the guys on the Beowulf project. It was a great experience, extremely lucky timing for me, and I learned quite a bit. If you’re a new graduate student I highly suggest you look into the GSRP program. While I didn’t have one, the DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship is another great option to consider.

Hobbies and Music

As I edit this, it’s funny to see how I have written about things in the past. I had a lot more time for this stuff when I was younger I guess.

At one time I had a list of my CDs on here; I had gotten a CueCat scanner working and had gone to the trouble to scan all my CDs into a text file. I have no idea what motivated me to do that. Now I just carry around an iPhone like everyone else. My tastes range from electronic stuff like Kruder and Dorfmeister, Boards of Canada, and Amon Tobin to rock like Interpol, Ladytron, and Queens of the Stone Age. I have no musical ability myself. My mom had me taking piano lessons for a while, but I was a ungrateful wretch and refused to practice, and eventually she gave up. This stubbornness is still part of me…

I used to get out to clubs and dance, but I’m too old for that now.

For the longest time I played paintball, from around 1991 until 2002, and this really did play an important role in my life at the time, just like someone that runs in marathons or inline skates or any other such thing.

Other things that I’ve been fanatical about and then given up include Games Workshop games (painting can be fun), Counterstrike (kept me sane while finishing my dissertation and after moving to a new city) and Taekwondo (my first experience with exercising until I couldn’t stand). In retrospect I guess I picked some eccentric and often nerdy hobbies over the years; not too surprising really.

Now, for better or worse, my hobbies are considerably more mainstream. I mountain bike a bit, and I climb, indoors or out, whenever I can. I prefer multi-pitch traditional lead climbing. Trad leading involves placing (removable) gear, or pro, to catch you if you fall, and it adds some additional excitement… ok, so maybe that isn’t that mainstream.