[Beowulf] [FoRK] FaceBook tries to cream Google

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Fri Apr 8 12:42:51 PDT 2011

----- Forwarded message from "J. Andrew Rogers" <andrew at ceruleansystems.com> -----

From: "J. Andrew Rogers" <andrew at ceruleansystems.com>
Date: Fri, 8 Apr 2011 10:36:31 -0700
To: Friends of Rohit Khare <fork at xent.com>
Subject: Re: [FoRK] FaceBook tries to cream Google
X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.1084)
Reply-To: Friends of Rohit Khare <fork at xent.com>

On Apr 8, 2011, at 8:05 AM, Stephen Williams wrote:
> Agreed.  Strange that MPI isn't more widely used (outside supercomputing projects).  Although, I'm not aware of it expecting and handling faults / rework as a good Mapreduce imitation, and similar systems, must.

It is not that strange, MPI is a bit brittle as a communication library standard. Implementations tend to make simplifying assumptions that are not valid for some parallel applications. You can patch it up to do anything but the level of effort required seems to relegate it to just being used in scientific computing for which it was designed. I've seen ZeroMQ being increasingly used for roughly the same purpose as MPI in "normal" distributed systems, and I personally do not see much reason to prefer the latter over the former for most things. 

The difference is history. MPI's weakness is that it started from a mediocre design that immediately became part of a standards process, with all the politics and buy-in that entails. It is also badly documented as a practical matter. ZMQ also started with a somewhat dodgy early design but as a library rather than a standard; it was iterated by hackers over several versions into a more sensible and capable design. ZMQ has been willing to break backward compatibility to fix behaviors that irritated the programmers that use it or add badly needed features, which is possible because the "standard" is the implementation.

J. Andrew Rogers

FoRK mailing list

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