[Beowulf] A start in Parallel Programming?

Richard Walsh rbw at ahpcrc.org
Wed Mar 14 09:07:41 PDT 2007

Kyle Spaans wrote:
> I just read this article,
> <http://arstechnica.com/articles/paedia/hardware/physx-hpc.ars>, and
> it has rekindled my desire to get started in parallel and
> multi-threaded programming. By now, I'm plenty comfortable with Linux

One could argue that parallel programming paradigms were largely
strapped onto pre-existing serial programming languages (whatever the
flavor), and that because of this they stand in conceptual separation from
whatever language you might choose to learn.  I like Greg Lindahl's
reference to the mixed language nature of many large scientific applications
having just ported a monster (CTH) to the Cray X1E in recent years.
I would "learn" C and Fortran ... but "learn" implies to much formality.
Just begin using them and like you native tongue you will wake up
one day knowing them.

PVM and MPI, and even OpenMP fit this description as strap-ons to my
mind so learning any language that support an API into them would work
(C, Fortran, etc.).  As far as more instrinsically parallel languages
are concerned and as a younger person perhaps wanting to guess at
the future of parallel programming and perhaps be there when the
rest of the world arrives, I would look at UPC and CAF, both economical
parallel extensions of C and Fortran respectively. 

If you are interested in these I will send you my two day course notes which
teach UPC and CAF  in parallel so that you get a feel for them together
(in parallel ... ;-) ...).

As far as what you CS department is teaching (from what you described
and from the point of view of modern high-performance scientific
computing), I would be careful not to fall in love with CS departmental
fads ... cross check all local CS-temporo-sectarianisms here on this list.
Time makes fools of us all, but especially CS departments ...





Richard B. Walsh

Project Manager
Network Computing Services, Inc.
Army High Performance Computing Research Center (AHPCRC)
rbw at ahpcrc.org  |  612.337.3467

>  "The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one
>   perceived. The subject and object are but one."
>   Erwin Schroedinger

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