Acer supercomputer boosts AIM artificial intelligence education

The Analytics, Computing, and Complex Systems Laboratory at the Asian Institute of Management (ACCeSs@AIM) houses a supercomputer that's the fastest in the Philippines, with computing speeds of up to 1.2 petaflops. This computer was donated by Stan Shih, Acer Group Co-Founder and Honorary Chairman, and Chairman of Stan Shih Foundation, in 2018.

Acer is a Taiwanese tech giant, while AIM is considered the top business school for higher learning in the Philippines.

Acer supercomputer boosts AIM artificial intelligence education

The donation was made to support the upgrade of educational facilities and equipment at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) at its then newly established Analytics, Computing and Complex Systems Lab, which leads and promotes data science, artificial intelligence, and various computational models to drive innovations.

The donation included four Altos R480 F4 GPU servers powered by Intel® Xeon® processor paired with NVIDIA® GTX1080Ti X and 256GB DDR4-2400 RAM, SG 2TB 6Gb/s 2.5” SATA 7200rpm HDD and 480G 2.5” SATA S3520 Series SSD along with eight AST D280 servers powered by Intel® Xeon® Cascade 6126 processor, NVIDIA® GTX1080Ti X, and 256GB DDR4-2400 RAM, SG 2TB 6Gb/s 2.5" SATA HDD and 480G 2.5" S4510 Enterprise SSD, which significantly increases computing performance.

As of January 2020, the supercomputer was upgraded by Acer from 500 teraflops to 1.2 petaflops, with additional access of 0.5 petaflops. Data science students were granted access and were given the opportunity to use aiForge, software developed by Acer in collaboration with ACCeSs@AIM, which serves as a test site for the Acer aiForge platform, which directly affects the development of the software. 

The Acer supercomputer, optimized to do artificial intelligence computations, provides students with the most advanced tool to master data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and computational modeling skills. It helps Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) program students in their courses on machine learning, deep learning, big data, and cloud computing, programming for data science, mathematics for data science, data mining and wrangling, advanced data mining, network science, natural language processing, and introduction to image processing. 

Since its launching, the MSDS program of AIM has been recognized yearly by Eduniversal in its published Best Masters Ranking for Data Analytics in Far East Asia as one of the Top 3 Master of Science in Data Science programs ahead of any offerings in South Korea or Singapore, among others.

With the Acer supercomputer, MSDS students have successfully completed industry projects and capstone projects such as healthcare-related demand prediction, grassroots micro-lending, and job applicant performance prediction.

The supercomputer upgrade and aiForge access were also used by Ph.D. students for their courses and research, pushing the boundaries in various fields such as computational linguistics, urban analytics, traffic modeling and optimization, forecasting, and computational social science.

With the donation from Acer, AIM was able to attract strong Ph.D. candidates and students while expanding collaborations nationally and internationally. A total of 124 students are using the Acer supercomputer. There are seven courses in the MSDS program delivered using the machine: Programming in Data Science, Mathematics in Data Science, Data Mining and Wrangling, Big Data Cloud and Computing, Machine Learnings 1, 2 and 3, and Applied Computational Statistics. 

Two courses (Model Thinking, Algorithms, Computations, and Advanced Time Series Analysis) in the Ph.D. in DS program have also benefitted from Acer's donation, especially in delivering their demo lectures and final projects.

"The support given by the Acer Foundation has helped and will continue to help AIM champion industry-government-academia partnerships through research and development and technopreneurship, which in turn will support its goal of becoming one of the Top 5 Business Schools in Asia in the next ten years," said Professor Christopher Monterola, the Aboitiz Chair in Data Science and Executive Managing Director of ACCeSs@AIM.

"We at Acer believe in the work of ACCeSs@AIM in educating and guiding the country's present and future business leaders and in leveling up the fields of data science, artificial intelligence, and computational modeling in the Philippines," said Sue Ong-Lim, General Manager of Acer Philippines.

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