Parallel Computing in the Computer Science Curriculum > Modules > Parallel Computing Concepts

Parallel Computing Concepts

Professor Richard Brown, St. Olaf College
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Summary

This concept module, intended for persons with a modest background in CS, introduces a core of parallel computing notions that CS students should know in preparation for the era of manycore computing. This includes categories of parallelism (pipelining, data parallelism, task parallelism), parallel speedup and Amdahl's Law, an elementary presentation of concurrency issues (definition and examples of deadlock, identifying race conditions, avoiding races using atomic actions), and selected concurrent programming strategies (message passing, Java-like per-object synchronization). It will also provide application notes to motivate and lay the groundwork for subsequent modules, including basic concepts of DISC and applications of DISC to industry.

Optional short programming exercises will illustrate selected concepts. For example, a program with a predictable and observable race condition may be provided, available for experimental modification; a Java-like synchronize feature could then be provided in order to prevent those race conditions.

Module Characteristics

Languages Supported: Any
Relevant Parallel Computing Concepts: Data Parallelism, Task Parallelism, Message Passing, Shared Memory, Distributed
Recommended Teaching Level: Intermediate, Advanced
Possible Course Use: Hardware Design, Software Design, Algorithm Design, Parallel Computing Systems, Programming Languages

Learning Goals

Context for Use

This module is best implemented in an intermediate-level course as a class lecture (likely one to two class periods in length). The module does not require knowledge of or background in a specific programming language. It can serve as a background prerequisite for other intermediate-level application modules, or it could also be used by itself in an intermediate CS course in order to add elements of parallelism.

Description and Teaching Materials

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Parallel Computing Concepts

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PDF Format: Parallel Computing Concepts.pdf.
Latex Format: Parallel Computing Concepts.tar.gz.
Word Format: Parallel Computing Concepts.docx.

Teaching Notes and Tips


Assessment

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