[Beowulf] A start in Parallel Programming?

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Tue Mar 13 17:16:21 PDT 2007

At 04:32 PM 3/13/2007, you wrote:
>On Tue, Mar 13, 2007 at 12:59:49PM -0700, Jim Lux wrote:
> > Which syntax compiler writers hate, because you can't use a parser
> > that always moves forward.  (But compiler writers love FORTH)
>Er, compiler writers (like the ones around here) know that parsing is
>the easiest part of compiling, so they don't stress about it.

I should have been more clear.. back in the 60s & 70s, when PL/I was 
promulgated, and before the "science" of parsing had been developed 
as well I suspect that the "pain" of the extra passes and the more 
complex parser (compared to COBOL and FORTRAN) in the PL/I compiler 
(if only to do the macro substitution) was something that people felt 
very dearly.  I remember (as a kid) having to swap the hard disk in 
an IBM 1130 between the two FORTRAN compiler passes (either that, or 
punch a deck with the intermediate code... you could either hold the 
half compiled program in core, or the compiler, but not both)

When did the idea of systematic parsers actually develop.. mid 60s? I 
seem to recall compiler-compilers and such in 72ish time frame, but 
I'm pretty sure the early versions of the FORTRAN compiler probably 
used adhoc parsing, and by then, the die was cast for the future.

>I value students who know multiple languages over a student who's only
>been exposed to one: there's no proof that the latter student is
>mentally flexible.

Indeed.. that's a useful observation in general.  When I interview 
folks here at JPL, I like to see that they've done some substantive 
work in at least two different languages (as opposed to just "toy" 
programs in the second language). I think (but have no formal 
evidence for) that this indicates that the person has moved beyond 
the specifics of a single language, but has developed more of a 
generalized algorithm design skill.  I'll have to ask my wife, who 
hires a lot more programmers than I do.

James Lux, P.E.
Spacecraft Radio Frequency Subsystems Group
Flight Communications Systems Section
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 161-213
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
tel: (818)354-2075
fax: (818)393-6875 

More information about the Beowulf mailing list