Assignment 4
Midterm Project: Reporting on a Tool


April 4 : Install the tool, or identify the hurdles
April 6 : Execute the tool
April 11: Submit your report

Imagine you are an employee of XYZ corporation. Your boss just told you that he came back from a conference and he learned about a handful of parallel programming tools that are supposed to be really nifty. He/she wants you to pick one of those tools, figure out how to install it, run it, and tell him or her whether this is as nifty as everybody says it is.

Having had an education at MIT, you know that installing and running tools is not as easy as it sounds. First you have to pick a tool and a machine to run it on. If you pick a tool that runs on the CM-5 you can use our local machine. If you pick a tool on the IBM SP-2, we can get you access. Another choice is a tool that runs on networks of workstations.

Because you are MIT go-getters, you understand that you should not try to do this completely by yourself. You may have to enlist the help of the author of the package, a local system administrator, or even your employer. As you know, it is best to try to solve the problem yourself for a little while, but not waste too much time before you enlist some help. Otherwise you are likely to get very frustrated. I believe the process of trying to get something working will be a real lesson in the realities of computing on parallel machines.

The best project is one where the tool gets installed (as I said, not a trivial task), and you are creative enough to run the tool and say something interesting about the tool. Very often MIT students are asked to solve problems, not form opinions. Forming an opinion is one of the most difficult things to do -- it sometimes requires taking a stand, even if you are not 100% sure that you are right. Nevertheless, this kind of judgment call is very important, and this is a great opportunity for you to take charge, but do not be afraid to use me as a resource.

Projects so far: (URL's will get inserted)

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