A Retrospective Recount of Computer Architecture Research with a Data-Driven Study of Over Four Decades of ISCA Publications

22 Jun 2019  ·  Omer Anjum, Wen-mei Hwu, JinJun Xiong ·

This study began with a research project, called DISCvR, conducted at the IBM-ILLINOIS Center for Cognitive Computing Systems Reseach. The goal of DISCvR was to build a practical NLP based AI pipeline for document understanding which will help us better understand the computation patterns and requirements of modern computing systems. While building such a prototype, an early use case came to us thanks to the 2017 IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture (MICRO-50) Program Co-chairs, Drs. Hillery Hunter and Jaime Moreno. They asked us if we can perform some data-driven analysis of the past 50 years of MICRO papers and show some interesting historical perspectives on MICRO's 50 years of publication. We learned two important lessons from that experience: (1) building an AI solution to truly understand unstructured data is hard in spite of the many claimed successes in natural language understanding; and (2) providing a data-driven perspective on computer architecture research is a very interesting and fun project. Recently we decided to conduct a more thorough study based on all past papers of International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA) from 1973 to 2018, which resulted this article. We recognize that we have just scratched the surface of natural language understanding of unstructured data, and there are many more aspects that we can improve. But even with our current study, we felt there were enough interesting findings that may be worthwhile to share with the community. Hence we decided to write this article to summarize our findings so far based only on ISCA publications. Our hope is to generate further interests from the community in this topic, and we welcome collaboration from the community to deepen our understanding both of the computer architecture research and of the challenges of NLP-based AI solutions.

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