Volume 22 Number 6


IVAAP microservices

INT rolls-out microservices-based back end. CEO Olivier Lhemann reveals the technology under-the-hood and the potential for interoperability with other frameworks such as GE Predix.

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Flutura & JAG

Retired C-level execs (including former ConocoPhillips chairman Archie Dunham), leading VCs back Cerebra AI push to oil & gas.

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Computing with light!

An announcement from MIT researchers on breakthrough computing using 'photonics' highlights the potential for analog devices in artificial intelligence. Editor Neil McNaughton recalls earlier work using light to 'image' seismics. Unfortunately no longer a politically correct use case for MIT!

Early on in my career I was a young geophysicist in the head offices of a major EU oil company. One day there was a commotion in room near mine and soon the ‘next big thing’ was unveiled, an optical bench for analyzing seismic data. This remarkable tool shone a laser beam through a 35mm slide (remember them?) of a seismic line. The light then passed through a lens which focused the beam to a point. No surprises there. But what was mind blowing (to me at least) was the fact that the information, the pattern of light at the focal point, represented a Fourier transform of the seismic image. For those of you who have not come across Joseph Fourier’s chef d’oeuvre, a Fourier transform splits information into its frequency components. A spectrum analyzer if you like. This laser optical bank split seismic into its spatial (rather than temporal) frequencies.

This seemed to me rather fanciful until the machine’s champion began sliding optical gratings and wedges into the device at the focal point, demonstrating just how powerful a filtering device this was. You could remove any directional component in the slide and bring out features ‘hidden in the data.’ It was so powerful that it may have brought out some features that were not there at all.

I later realized that this was not exactly the ‘next big thing’ but the last, having been developed a decade earlier by United Geophysical and sold as the LaserScan. In the 1960s, (before my time!) this device was of interest to seismic processors, even though digital processing was already well established. Digital geophysics was invented a decade earlier (yes, in the 1950s) at MIT’s Geophysical applications group, MIT-GAG. But the laser/analog device was capable of instant processing at a higher resolution than would have been practical with the digital technology of the time. Some examples of LaserScan are given in Ernie Cook’s 1965 paper on geophysical operations in the North Sea and another by John Fitton and Milton Dobrin in the October 1967 Geophysics

My next encounter with non digital, analog devices, does not have anything to do with this editorial, but it was so clever and I doubt that I’ll ever have a better opportunity to talk about it so here goes. In the mid 1970s GPS did exist but it was not very good. In fact although it was widely adopted, the first sonar-doppler aided marine GPS systems were a step back from radio navigation. Of which there were many competing systems. One of these (unfortunately I can’t remember what it was called and can’t find any references), used an analog delay line and a radar type chirp that was broadcast over the air. The signal was also sent, as an acoustic surface wave across a solid-state device. The distance travelled across the device (at the speed of sound) was selected so that it took about the same time as the radio waves travelling to shore-based beacons (at the speed of light). By cross-correlating the returning radio signal with the output of the delay line, the time of travel (and hence the distance from) the shore-side beacon could be measured very accurately. At least that was the idea. If my memory serves me well the navigation service was not in operation for very long as the GPS brigade got their act together soon after the system was introduced and the rest is history.

You may be wondering what the point of all this is in today’s age of digital ‘big’ data. Well, a recent paper in Nature Photonics, ‘Deep learning with coherent nanophotonic circuits’ by Yichen Shen et al. from MIT describes the use of an optical, analog computer to perform artificial neural network (ANN) ‘deep learning.’ Seemingly, today’s computing hardware, despite ‘significant efforts’ is ‘inefficient at implementing neural networks.’ Just as the digital computers of the 1960s weren’t up to some geophysical processing tasks. And the solution may again be computing with light.

As an aside, this kind of photonics is not to be confused with quantum computing which is also touted as solution for ANN. Quantum computing is not as far as I know yet feasible. MIT’s ‘photonics’ optical computer just uses regular light, no quanta, not even digital pulses.

MIT’s optical ANN promises an enhancement in computational speed and power efficiency over state-of-the-art electronics. The researchers have demonstrated the concept with a programmable nanophotonic processor featuring a cascaded array of 56 programmable Mach–Zehnder interferometers. The system was trialed on a ‘typical’ ANN-style problem, speech recognition where it performed reasonably well, scoring a 77% accuracy.

Commenting the breakthrough Shen said that the architecture could, perform ANN calculations much faster and using less than one-thousandth as much energy per operation as conventional electronic chips. Energy consumption by the way is a big issue in high performance computing.  ‘Light has a natural advantage in doing matrix multiplication, dense matrix operations are the most power hungry and time consuming part of AI algorithms.’

And, one might say, of geophysical imaging. In fact the MIT team expects other applications in signal processing. If it wasn’t so politically incorrect these days, they might have added ‘and in seismic prospecting for oil.’ But MIT-GAG is of a long-forgotten past. MIT’s current Energy Initiative, MITEI, is an altogether greener thing, even if though it is funded by oil and gas companies.

By the way, after the knock-off device across the corridor from my office was installed, I would occasionally sneak across the corridor and peek into the laser room. I don’t recall it being used much. In fact I think if was one of those things that you buy, use and couple of times to amaze your friends and then forget about. A bit like my Panono!

@neilmcn


Oil IT Journal interview, Mark Bashforth, Ikon Science

Ikon Science CEO Mark Bashforth and CTO Denis Saussus discuss working smarter at $50 oil, collapsing engineering and geoscience silos and the return of geophysics to shale drilling.

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Getting data right. Don't model, argue!

O'Reilly's free book advocates abandoning data modeling in favor of Tamr's DataOps.

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Divestco's mapping 101

Calgary geoscience data managers society presentation on Esri and other GIS solutions.

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Statoil's total uncertainty management program complete

Emerson/Roxar embeds results of multi-year R&D in commercial release of Tempest/Enable.

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3esi-Enersight presentation on reliable technology and software

SEC's 'reliable technology' reporting rules open a route to increased reported reserves.

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Baker Hughes, IHS Markit, CMG team

Partnership promises 'new level' of G&G/engineering solutions. CMG's healthy 2017 results.

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Software, hardware short takes ...

Blue Marble Geographics, Dynamic Graphics, Roxar, Halliburton, Hexagon, Kadme, LandWorks, Sintef, Quorum, NIST/CU, Rock Flow Dynamics, Terrasciences, TrendMiner, SpectraLogic.

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Consortium corner

OTM's Geomechanics Initiative. DNV GL standardizing subsea processing. US DoE's $20 million for oil and gas R&D. TNO's field optimization benchmark Round 2. SEG teams with Kudos.

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GBC IIoT and digital solutions in oil and gas, Amsterdam

Shell's Tacit digital initiative. McKinsey, 'fix oil and gas economics with digital.' IIC on elusive IoT standards. IHS on digital 'pockets of excellence.' Statoil's GoDigital/CoE. Petronas' downstream digital roadmap. Maersk on Predix and 'edge' analytics. Baker Hughes' Remote Operations Services. Movus' FitMachine. Honeywell's Connected Plant. Gazprom/Rostelecom team on an 'Open partnership for the industrial internet of things in oil and gas.'

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Folks, facts, orgs ...

API, Aprim, Aveva, Berkana, BCCK, CSE Icon, Baker Hughes, Blackeagle, CB&I, CGI, ConocoPhillips, Dawson, DNV GL, Frontier Integrity, GSE, Halliburton, Helix, Merlin, New West, Offshore Technical Compliance, Occidental, Petrosys, P2 Energy Solutions, PPDM, QS Energy, RocketFrac, Carnegie Mellon/CERT, Stress Engineering Services, The Williams Companies, Statoil.

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Done deals

Altair/Carriots. BP Ventures/Beyond Limits. RSI/Corys. 3ESI-Enersight/Energy Navigator. Ensco Atwood. Honeywell/Nextnine. AFGlobal/Advanced Measurements. Sofbank/OSIsoft. Teradata/StackIQ. Vela/Petrosys. Tibco/Statistica. Trimble/Network Mapping Group.

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More from PNEC Data & Information Management

Shell/Flare 'redefine' standard search model. Halliburton's 'open enterprise architecture.'

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Blockchain news

Natixis/IBM/Trafigura on Hyperledger. BP/ENI/Wien on BTL Group's Interbit. Xpansiv Data's digital feedstock on GEM OS. IBM/Energy Blockchain Labs on Hyperledger.

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Survey finds all US manufacturers lag on digital

BP as Siemens' poster child for 'revenue re-invention.'

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Sales, deployments, partnerships ...

FME, Logic Solutions, IFS, Anticip, MiX Telematics, Coreworx, EPIM, ATEA, Weatherford, HighWire, IT Vizion, Katalyst, CGG Geoconsulting, OvationData, Seeq, Inductive Automation, Stress Engineering, DeepMar, Total, Capula, TrendMiner, Wood Group, Librestream.

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Standards stuff

OMG and ISO announce (different) blockchain standards! EU Commission' Internet of Energy. ISO 14224 reliability standard. NIST's NBDIF big data framework. Energistics' Resqml 101.

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Pipeline software news

DNV GL Pipeline Evaluation Portal. SNAM's 200 million digital transformation. Hexagon/Leica's Captivate Pipeline solution. Schneider on integrity management. Splunk for major.

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Jaspersoft for IDS DataNet

Blog posting traces reporting software's evolution from Flash to Tibco's HTML5-based solution.

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OpenInventor on Occulus. News from the HoloLens front

High-end virtual reality for Occulus and HTC Vive. IFS, Worley Parsons' 'mixed reality' trials.

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Microsoft's Red Carpet, more PI in the sky

Mitsubishi Hitachi leverages OSIsoft-Microsoft incubator in power plant digitization.

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Microsoft Internet of Things Central

Plug and play OPC connectivity simplifies IoT solutions. Quorum as Azure IoT poster child.

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ThinAnywhere, 'we're back!'

Ten year exclusive deal with Schlumberger expires. Remote visualization now selling direct.

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Implico rolls-out OpenTAS at Gunvor Ingolstadt refinery

Tank truck filling continues as new terminal management system is paged-in.

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