18.337 Syllabus

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18.337 Syllabus

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February 6, 1996

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Class home page: http://web.mit.edu/18.337/

Parallel Computing is maturing. The old hype seems
to be over with now. Symmetric multriprocessors
with up to 64 processors are starting to be successful in
the commercial market. So called massively parallel
machines with over 1000 processors are soon about
to break the teraflop barrier.

This parallel scientific computing class attempts to cover
it all from the practical uses of parallel computers
to mathematical algorithms and techniques.

Regarding prerequisites, I believe that engineers familiar with at
least one numerical application and computer scientists already
interested in supercomputers should be able to take this class, but
nearly everyone may have to fill in some gap or another. Ideally
engineers will learn computer science, computer scientists will learn
engineering, and mathematicians will learn what is needed to create
new and better algorithms. As I become more familiar with the
students, I hope to be able to fill in gaps or give pointers to
appropriate texts.

The course will consist of homework programming assignments
and a final project. Unfortunately, we have no TA for this
course so homeworks may have to be graded by the class.

During each class one student will be responsible
for updating the course notes.
These updates in
many cases will be better explanations of what is already there, and
more pretty diagrams. (Who likes books without pictures?)
The diagrams will have to fit a standard format that
will be made available and can not interfere with the
remainder of then otes.

I hope that students will teach me something about every topic! There
will be no exams. I will probably ask students to grade each other's
homeworks.

### Coteaching with Berkeley

As an experiment, we will be sharing some lectures during the
semester with an analogous course at UC Berkeley this semester:
UCB CS 267, Applications of
Parallel Computers , by
Prof. Jim Demmel.
We will use 9-253 for these lectures. This room is unfortunately
small and we will have to restrict attendance, but
it is equipped
with a high-speed real-time link to Berkeley.
According to Pat Weygint the room can hold up to 20 with minor discomfort.
The first lecture is planned for Feb 8, when Prof. W. Kahan will give
a guest lecture on floating point arithmetic (a topic for which he was
awarded the 1989 ACM Turing Award, the highest award in Computer Science).
Because of the time difference between MIT and Berkeley, this will
be a 60 minute lecture, from 3:30pm until 4:30pm, preceded by 30
"unconnected" minutes at MIT in 1-390.
We will schedule more or fewer of these shared lectures,
depending on how well this technology works.
If some students want to form project teams with students in the
Berkeley
class, Jim Demmel and I would welcome this.
The most important part of the class is the final project. Students are
invited to bring their own applications to parallelize, but I will supply
a list with many suggestions. At the end of the semester we will have
a ``poster session'' where all projects will be presented and
an opportunity for the best projects to be simultaneously
presented here and at Berkeley on the videolink.

For a look at what previous projects have involved
at Berkeley, see the lists on their
class homepage.
Projects have been in all engineering and scientific disciplines.
One project
from Berkeley's last class, which has been developed considerably since then
by Paul Gauthier and Prof. Eric Brewer, recently received money from
venture capitalists in order to commercialize it.
So many things are possible!

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