Using Simple Abstraction to Guide the Reinvention of Computing for Parallelism

Keep it simple

The sudden shift from single-processor computer systems to many-processor parallel ones requires reinventing much of computer science (CS): How to actually build and program the new parallel systems. CS urgently requires convergence to a robust parallel general-purpose platform that provides good performance and is easy enough to program by at least all CS majors. Unfortunately, lesser ease-of- programming objectives have eluded decades of parallel computing research. The idea of starting with an established easy parallel programming model and build an architecture for it has been treated as radical by vendors. Uzi Vishkin advocates a more radical idea in this presentation. Start with a minimalist stepping-stone: a simple abstraction that encapsulates the desired interface between programmers and system builders.

Uzi Vishkin started his work on parallel computing in 1979 as a PhD student at the Technion, Israel. His initial focus was on parallel algorithms and parallel algorithmic thinking. He co-authored several articles that helped build a theory of parallel algorithms -- also known as PRAM algorithms. This work led to his invention of the PRAM-On-Chip desktop supercomputer framework that scales beyond 1000 processors on a chip. He was inducted as an ACM Fellow for playing "a leading role in forming and shaping what thinking in parallel has come to mean in the fundamental theory of Computer Science." Vishkin is currently a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS). He has also worked for IBM T.J. Watson, New York University, and was the chair of computer science at Tel Aviv University.

This presentation will be be on Monday, March 15, 2010 at 4:00 PM (Central Time). Live video streaming (activated at time of event) is available at

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