The technical papers program for SC13 received 449 submissions of which 90 where selected for the program giving an acceptance rate of 20%. A rigorous peer review process, including author rebuttals and a 1.5 day face-to-face program committee meeting ensured that selected papers were the very best in our field. One of the tasks at the face-to-face meeting was also to select finalists for the best paper award, from which one is selected by a committee during the conference. To further highlight their achievement of being selected as the very top tier of all the submitted papers to SC13, the authors of these finalist papers were offered the opportunity to publish extended versions of their papers in this special issue journal; all eight authors accepted.