How Cloud Computing is helping to solve 3 problems that are on everyone’s mind right now: spread of COVID-19, pharmaceutical safety and school bus management


In this special guest post, Dr. Viral B. Shah, CEO of Julia Computing, 3 Julia language-based examples of how cloud computing is revolutionizing data science. dr Viral B. Shah is one of the creators of the Julia language and co-founder and CEO of Julia Computing. Julia combines the ease of use of Python with the speed of C. It has been downloaded over 30 million times and is now taught at MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, and many universities worldwide. dr Shah and two other Julia co-creators were awarded the prestigious 2018 James H. Wilkinson Prize for Numerical Software. dr Shah received his PhD in Computer Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In recent years, improvements in cloud computing’s usability, speed and capacity, and lower costs have led to increased use of cloud computing to solve important problems, including analysis of the spread of COVID-19, drug safety and school bus management.

For example, this dashboard, built with Julia, shows how open-source data, in this case from The New York Times, can be presented to data scientists and other users to inform everything from personal decision-making (such as traveling to a specific place during the holidays) for public order.

This free dashboard is hosted in the cloud and all code is available for users to analyze, copy, modify and use.

Another area where cloud computing is revolutionizing health research is pharmaceutical safety. Pumas-AI uses Julia in the cloud for every phase of pharmaceutical development and testing. The cloud makes this possible by providing access to infinite and instantaneous scalability for models with millions of data points and complex simulations.

A third area where cloud computing is having an impact in the real world is in school bus routing. AlphaRoute uses Julia in the cloud to design optimal school bus routes for school districts like Boston and San Francisco. Saving school districts tens of millions of dollars, the superior computing capabilities of cloud-based infrastructure energy solutions enable students to meet age-appropriate sleep schedules and help them start school rested and ready to study, reducing traffic and carbon emissions.

These are just three examples of how cloud computing is revolutionizing data science.

Why is cloud computing so powerful?

  1. Scalability: A single user operating a laptop or desktop computer can instantly scale to tens, hundreds or thousands of processing units.
  2. Costs: With pay-as-you-go pricing, you only pay for the computing power that you actually use. No need to invest thousands of dollars in hardware upfront.
  3. Access to the latest technology: The latest, fastest, and greatest processing units—including GPUs, TPUs, and more—are available online instantly.
  4. Flexibility: No long-term commitment to a specific number of compute hours, number of processing units, hardware configuration, or hardware type. Scale up or down instantly, switch from one type of processing unit to another.
  5. democratization: The cloud puts the power of a supercomputer or computing cluster in the hands of each and every user.
  6. Speed: With instant one-click access to so much world-class hardware, users can perform complex simulations and calculations faster than ever before.
  7. Performance: The cloud allows users to crack more numbers and run complex models and simulations that would otherwise have been impossible.
  8. Openness: The computing power in the cloud can be accessed with any common computer or data science language and any common data format.
  9. User friendliness: Any user can easily access the cloud—no IT pro needs to set up, access, or use new hardware.
  10. Maintenance: Each network is managed by its operators. Users don’t need an IT expert or IT department to maintain an expensive cluster or server farm.

Today’s users are looking for ways to reduce costs, analyze massive amounts of data, increase the speed and power of their computations, access the latest and greatest new technology, put more computing power in the hands of their data scientists and analysts, and outsource the building and maintenance of expensive hardware. Cloud computing gives companies easier and cheaper access to more and better computing power.

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