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Women and STEM: LEGaTO researcher talks about her passion for HPC

Pirah Noor Soomro

Pirah Noor Soomro is a LEGaTO researcher and PhD student at Chalmers University of Technology. In this interview, Pirah tells us about her passion for HPC and the inspiring and supportive role of female colleagues in her career.

How did you become interested in HPC? What influenced your decision to take this career path?

I always had interest in programming which developed over time and I kept perusing the options at my disposal, which led me to an HPC Master program. During my MS I got an opportunity to work with a very talented woman in HPC, Prof. Dr. Didem Unat. She inspired me not only in the field of HPC but also as a research enthusiast. Looking at her pictures in front of world-famous supercomputing centres increased my passion of working on these computing giants and contributing in large-scale computing projects.

Could you tell us a bit about your research?

Modern edge devices are equipped with more powerful compute resources than ever before which opens up the opportunity to execute deep neural networks on the edge devices instead of cloud-based implementation. I am currently working on developing scheduling techniques for deep learning applications on heterogeneous computing platforms. My goal is to improve execution time and energy consumption of deep learning applications on such platforms.

What are your responsibilities in LEGaTO?

I am contributing to the development of an energy-efficient task-based runtime: XiTAO. I have developed a pipeline parallel framework for implementing CNNs. The framework comprises of a simple tensor template language interface which is used to describe CNN architecture. At the backend XiTAO compatible task DAG is generated which is executed in pipeline parallel fashion. The idea is to leverage pipeline parallelism within XiTAO runtime to increase throughput of CNN inference.

How has your experience as a woman studying and working on STEM been? Have you faced any challenges?

Fortunately, my experience of studying and working in STEM as a woman has been great so far. I have met and worked with exemplary personalities throughout my career who have always inspired me by showing that women's work in STEM is just as glorious as men's. I must say that we are also quite supportive to each other. Whether it is my PhD fellow or senior HPC women, I have always found a great support system around myself.  

What message would you give to young girls who are interested in pursuing a career in STEM?

The idea of being at a place you do not belong, always holds you back from success. “Us” in STEM is just as normal and easy-going as “Us” in the household, for example. People around us are all helping and encouraging, just reach out for help whenever you feel stuck. To all the ladies, have an inspiring smile and keep moving forward, no matter the pace.


  • Watch Pirah’s contribution to the AI4EU Web Café on ‘Energy-efficient AI, a perspective from the LEGaTO project’ here
  • Watch Pirah’s poster presentation at the LEGaTO final event here
  • Read about Pirah’s participation at ACACES 2019 here