(Machine) Learning How to Sea: Meet Raska

(Machine) Learning How to Sea: Meet Raska

An excited Raska on a beautiful English day. [1]

Manchester, UK – the birds are chirping, and the sun is unusually cooperative in England this morning. I get up and commence my daily routine, which obviously includes the mandatory tub of hot coffee. It is the start of PRACE Summer of HPC, and I am ready to enjoy my high-performance summer!

About me

A little bit of background about myself; my name is Raska, I am 21 years old and I come from sunny Jakarta, Indonesia. Over the past few years, I have been studying at the University of Manchester in the UK where I recently obtained an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering.

I was extremely happy when I received my invite for Summer of HPC – not only am I given the opportunity to work on supercomputers, but also in such a diverse setting, with students and host institutes spread all across Europe. Our international team is made up of 5 individuals with an interdisciplinary set of specialisations. Working alongside me are; Mario who is a physicist from Germany, Veerle and Silvia who are both marine geologists at the UK National Oceanography Centre and the Italian Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics (OGS) respectively, and Massimiliano who is our HPC specialist based at CINECA in Bologna, Italy. Of course, the current pandemic has made it difficult for travel, even within Europe. Therefore, I will be working from my room in Manchester.

Automated classification for mapping submarine structures by artificial intelligence strategies

This summer, I am joining CINECA as part of the Summer of HPC programme to work on using artificial intelligence methods to classify submarine structures of the Mediterranean Sea near the Italian coast (Project 2111 – see more details here). The idea is to develop a system that can learn from depth maps of the sea to automate the classification process of undersea reliefs. The classified maps are then used to help identify marine geohazards, which can help a range of applications such as search and rescue, habitat mapping, and more.

I became interested in this project after doing my undergrad dissertation; I developed software that detects and learns the shape of damage in structures such as cracks and vegetation to help engineers conduct inspections of buildings and tested it on a 3D laser scan of a bridge here in Manchester (you can check out a short overview here). While the sea can be very different to a building, computer vision principles can be transferable across different datasets. So, when my dissertation tutor encouraged me to apply for this programme, it was a complete no-brainer for me.

Supercomputers to the rescue

Supercomputers aren’t just computers with a cape! [2]

Classifying undersea structures of the Italian coast is obviously more computationally intensive than cracks on a bridge (spoiler: the former is far much larger!), so to achieve this goal we will need the appropriate resources. While I sit here in my room, our program will run on Marconi100, one of CINECA’s supercomputers in Bologna, Italy. Supercomputers are basically a cluster of computers (called ‘nodes’) that work together solve problems. Marconi100, as of July 2021, is built up of 980 nodes – imagine how powerful it is!

Before we go…


I’m going to end this post with a little question; I previously mentioned how supercomputers such as Marconi100 are powerful enough to run artificial intelligence software on big sets of data, but that is only one of the many things it can do! What kind of problems do you think supercomputers work to solve? I am interested to see what you think!

Get in touch with me on Linkedin, ResearchGate, and Facebook!

Image sources:

[1] Raska Soemantoro – Author’s own image

[2] Little computer and super computer – Clips Ahoy Free Images http://www.clipsahoy.com/webgraphics2/as2419.htm

[3] Free question stock photo – FreeImages https://www.freeimages.com/photo/question-1239547

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26 comments on “(Machine) Learning How to Sea: Meet Raska
  1. Audrey says:

    This project of yours can really help map out Indonesia and other marine countries’ oceanic profiles. Hope you can learn much from the Italian and Mediterranean case and use it for future references. Buona fortuna, Raska!

    • Raska Soemantoro says:

      Grazie Audrey! It is so important to map and understand the undersea reliefs of nations, helping us to identify hazards and improve safety, especially Indonesia with its vast seas.

  2. Fajryajay says:

    So Inspiring! Keep it up!!!

  3. kany says:

    with super computer you can do do so much good things in managing the World Data to improve the lives in this world become better.

    • Raska Soemantoro says:

      That’s true! The massive computing power coupled with the correct software can definitely help better a lot of people’s lives.

  4. Askadhia says:

    Congrats on joining the program! Probably, supercomputers with AI can work on big people’s data for classifying consumers to help brands/product sell!

    • Raska Soemantoro says:

      Thank you Askadhia! That’s right – using the appropriate software, high-performance computing (HPC) resources can offer computational power for consumer brands to manage and process data to help target the right products to the right people.

  5. It’s an incredible technology that we have today, where you can just sit in your home, and a (super)computer more than 1500km away runs your requirement-heavy program accomplished to do cool things. Best of luck on this project Ras! Very keen to see you develop your expertise in all things computing, especially supercomputers. Maybe we can collaborate and produce more cool things which we can share with the academic and industrial society. Cheers mate, keep doing what you love!

    • Raska Soemantoro says:

      Thanks Priangga! Most modern HPC systems have remote access capabilities that allow the user to be situated thousands of miles away whilst their programme is running. This is known as submitting a job – all you need is the a running desktop with the correct software and internet access. It’s beneficial because it also promotes cross-collaboration between researchers and HPC users. In your own experience and field, what applications would benefit the most from having HPC resources?

  6. Shita Laksmita says:

    I’ve learnt that supercomputers can be extremely useful and beneficial, and can be used to solve many problems

    • Raska Soemantoro says:

      That’s true! Supercomputers have played a big role in our lives. Recently, a collaboration involving CINECA and its supercomputers has helped in identifying the safest and most effective drugs in the fight against COVID-19. Read more about it here – https://www.exscalate4cov.eu/

  7. Priangga says:

    I’m certain that your project here would benefit so much in simulating problems that we have yet to understand in the field of aeronautics, especially in fluid mechanics and structural optimization. Looking forward to seeing the breakthrough of HPC in aerospace as well!

  8. Julie says:

    Supercomputers can collect data of covid survivors to share their experiences and enouragement for infected people. Hopefully this can also help reduce the numbers?

  9. Lewis says:

    Very nice to get to know you Raska! Maybe you can use supercomputers to help you come to terms with the fact that a tub is a terrible vessel for drinking coffee maybe try a mug next time king.

  10. Great insight on machine learning and supercomputers! Love to see Indonesian representation in the world of technology! Keep up the great work!

  11. Carrie Lemons says:

    Wow!!!! SO proud of you!!!!!!

  12. Nimik says:

    My expectations are flying high for this supercomputer as its not only can help to solve current challenges but also what we might’ve in the future…

    • Raska Soemantoro says:

      Rightly so! Supercomputers have played a massive role in our lives – many things that we interact with daily only exist thanks to high-performance computing resources. An example is weather prediction; many HPCs around the world are used to compute local weather forecasts using specialised weather software.

  13. Luca Sant’Anglelo says:

    Hi Raska, what a nice introduction! I hope supercomputers can help accurately map live biological systems that can work independently and organically so we can hopefully use it to lessen animal testing In labs!

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