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Summer 2013 interns at HP Labs – Sangman Kim


Contributed by Simon Firth, freelance technology journalist



After interning at HP Labs this summer, Sangman Kim will be entering his 5th year in the computer science Ph.D. program at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his BS in computer science from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), in Daejon, South Korea, where he also grew up. Sangman’s great passion is automation. When he’s not working on complex systems architectures, he’s dreaming up hacks for his household. “I like doing stuff like automating my home networks and power strips,” he says. “It’s really fun to build your own things.”  


HP: How did you hear about HP Labs’ internships?

I was at the 2012 Operating System Design and Implementation (OSDI) conference in Southern California and met senior researcher Indrajit Roy, who’s now my HP Labs co-mentor. I was a co-author on a paper related to privacy-preserving operating systems. Indrajit told me he was working on some related projects and recommended that I apply for a Labs internship.


HP: So you’re working with Indrajit?

Yes, I’m working with him and a few other researchers including principal researcher Vanish Talwar within the Systems Research Lab. My particular interest in systems research is in power and parallel computation. We’re looking at ways to improve power efficiency across large distributed computing systems, especially those built on GPUs.


HP: Does that relate to your Ph.D. research?

It’s similar, because in my thesis I’m also working with GPUs. There, I’m interested more in how you can make it easier to access the computational power of high-performance computer systems. Systems based on GPUs are great at performing computations on massive data sets, for example, but they are harder to program for than CPU-based systems. Their processors are massively parallel and you need to exploit the parallelism as much as possible, which is tricky. So I’m looking at what might be the best way to write programs on top of this hardware.


HP: Any progress with your HP research yet?

We’re looking at power use across the system. So the first thing has been to characterize the application components in the system, which I’ve done. Now we’re looking to accelerate application modules while reducing power consumption.


HP: What have you appreciated most about working here so far?

It’s great that people are very much open with each other. I didn’t expect that in a corporate environment. The researchers share their work and are interested in hearing about other people’s projects. It’s been a lot more fun than I expected. I enjoy talking with people about my project and getting their feedback and ideas. And it’s great being among so many people who share my interests and perspective on the world.


HP: How did you get interested in computer science?

In high school I was very much into math and chemistry, but there the challenge was mostly to learn the laws that someone else had already figured out. Then I took a mandatory class in programming as a freshman in college and it was the first subject I’d studied where I could make things of my own – things that I could manipulate and really understand. I only built a few small games in that course, but I was enthralled by the whole experience.

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