Re: compiling for parallel machines (Eric S. Raymond)
5 Aug 89 17:16:24 GMT

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Date: 5 Aug 89 17:16:24 GMT
From: (Eric S. Raymond)

In <1989Aug4.180349.3480@esegue.uucp> Deb Banerjee wrote:
> Your suspicion about software rather than hardware being the challenge in
> parallel programming systems may be correct.

I would have thought this was obvious!

There's been enough theory done on network topology, relationships between
complexity (in the automata-theory sense) and various resource/transaction
costs, and multiprocessor scaling laws that the area can be described as
`mature'. Empirically, parallel-processing architectures have been
*converging* into a few broad families over the last three years rather than
*diverging*, a sure sign that researchers in the hardware end of the problem
now have a shared paradigm (in Thomas Kuhn's sense).

The software end is nowhere near this well-evolved. There are formalisms
like CSP that allow us to discuss the behavior of parallel systems in a
rigorous way, but no one has even come up with a convincing general attack on
the higher-level problem -- automatic parallelization of algorithms expressed
for a uniprocessor abstract machine in real languages (i.e. in the presence
of multiple assignment, side-effects and data aliasing).

There is the really *hard* problem!
            Eric S. Raymond = (mad mastermind of TMN-Netnews)

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