Getting computers to work together is the goal of Gabriel Tarasuk-Levin's (04F) final Hampshire project. Entitled DFlux, his Division III work seeks to expand a programming language so that it can allow multiple computers to handle complex tasks together.
The project involves the principle of distributed processing. "The basic idea behind it is that things can be handled more quickly by larger numbers of computers," Tarasuk-Levin says. "I'm exploring a particular method of distributing tasks to a cluster. You cannot simply 'ask' a computer cluster to work as a team. You need to build an infrastructure, including task management tools to facilitate the sharing of the computation."
It's a task not for the technologically faint of heart. "The entire series of events from start to finish is rather complex," Tarasuk-Levin says. "Basically, I'm expanding a programming language from Flux to DFlux and, in doing so, providing programmers an easily accessible means of writing distributed programs." Much of his research is going on at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where Tarasuk-Levin plans to begin working toward a Ph.D. this fall.
He has taken computer science classes at the University of Massachusetts through the Five College consortium since he came to Hampshire. This year the university gave him a research position in one of its computer labs. "Working with the UMass labs has been an invaluable experience," Tarasuk-Levin says. "Aside from getting paid for most of the work, I was essentially elevated to the status of a graduate student researcher—I have my own desk and computer at UMass."
Tarasuk-Levin was drawn to computers as a child. "I started programming somewhere around seven years old," he says. "I've grown to really enjoy the challenges. There's nothing quite as satisfying as a good programming project, or that moment in development when all the pieces come together for the first time and it just works."
Lee Spector, a Hampshire professor of computer science, is on Tarasuk-Levin's Div III committee. "Gabe's exceptional skills in computer science, along with his coursework both at Hampshire and in the five colleges, led naturally to advanced research," Spector says. "He has worked on several advanced research topics, to which he appears to have made substantial contributions."
So substantial that Tarasuk-Levin has already nabbed a summer job. "I've been invited to be an intern at VMware at their headquarters in California—an amazing opportunity," he says. Researchers at VMware, a global leader in computer desktop and data solutions, noticed some of the published papers Tarasuk-Levin took part in at the university. "Not only has my work at UMass led to graduate school, it's gotten me involved in the industry as well," he says.