ERCIM News No.44 - January 2001 [contents]
by Uwe Naumann
111 people from all over the world, including Russia, Brasil, China, and Japan, attended AD2000, the third in a series of workshops devoted to Automatic Differentiation. The two previous conferences (Breckenridge 1991 and Santa Fe 1996, both USA) have created a momentum. Apart from having motivated further research and development they gathered researchers from different fields, from mathematics to scientific programming and to software engineering.
The domains covered by AD2000 reflected these different horizons. Mathematical aspects included the differentiation of iterative processes, and the analysis of non-smooth code. The use of adjoints in optimization and the propagation of rounding errors were looked at from the scientific programming point of view. Implementation problems, such as the complexity of the different differentiation modes, memory management problems, and static compile-time analysis to improve differentiated programs were also discussed.
Since the last meeting in 1996, research has progressed considerably. AD is being applied to larger and larger programs, for example for optimum shape design. In many such applications, modelling was restricted to simulations at various parameters settings. With the help of AD techniques, this trial and error approach could be replaced by a more efficient optimization with respect to modes, design, and control parameters. AD tools have also grown in variety, power and complexity. Their presentations and general discussions turned out to be highly profitable.
The objective of this third conference was to continue the work started in the previous meetings, and present recent developments to the audience. Special emphasis was put on the relationships and synergies between AD tools and other software tools such as compilers and parallelizers. Also, the maturation of AD tools motivated a special session on the use of AD in an industrial context. A panel discussion between several invited speakers from industry (NAG, Sun Microsystems, Frontline Systems) and academia (University of Western Ontario, Cananda, Argonne National Laboratory, USA) with strong participation of the audience underlined the importance of the development of a commercially supported AD tool.
The proceedings of AD2000 will be published by Springer next year. Topics covered will include: Sensitivities for ODEs and Optimal Control; Optimal Design via Adjoints in PDEs; AD Tools and Environments; Higher Order Derivatives; Diverse Applications.
Conference website: http://www-sop.inria.fr/tropics/ad2000/
Uwe Naumann - University of Hertfordshire