[Beowulf] What can a HS student do with a small Beowulf?

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Tue May 23 18:13:47 PDT 2006

At 01:04 PM 5/23/2006, Nathan Moore wrote:
>Just building a beowulf is in itself is a challenge - I'm impressed
>that you're thinking about getting one together.  As others have
>said, Beowulfs are only useful if you have a tough problem to work on
>(which also interests you).

There are a variety of "interesting" problems that are computationally 
intensive.  Some architectures might be optimized better than others, but, 
in general, making anything make use of multiple processors in parallel is 
a useful exercise.

1) Many game playing algorithms lend themselves to parallelism to explore 
the move tree (Chess is iconic, as is Checkers)
2) Various optimal path routing algorithms can be parallelized (determining 
the optimal route for an airplane, given a database of wind speeds vs 
lat/lon/altitude).  There's a well known optimal algorithm (with some 
constraints) for the single processor case (the A and A-star algorithms), 
but using multiple processors effectively is another matter.
3) All manner of pattern matching (genome, cryptography, etc.)
4) 3-d image rendering
5) Monte carlo simulations of many kinds
6) various and sundry differential equations on a grid solvers (Navier 
Stokes for CFD, Maxwell's equations for electromagnetics, etc.)

Just getting your head around the idea of passing messages around to solve 
a bigger problem is a useful thing to learn.

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