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Jonathan Erickson

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Five Years and Counting

June 09, 2010

Gosh! Has it really been five years since Herb Sutter's seminal article A Fundamental Turn Toward Concurrency in Software hit the newsstands? Yes, and like Herb recently said, "Time flies when you're having fun."

Casually known as the "Free Lunch" article (actually, the "No More Free Lunch" article), the point of the piece was that the advent of multicore processors was about to change how programmers will write software in the future. The article quickly became required reading for programmers everywhere, and parallelism became standard fare.

In retrospect, how did Herb do? Was he on target? What with multicore processors popping up in everything from mobile phones to data centers, it would seem that Herb hit the bull's eye. But to better find out where things stand, James Reinders, someone who knows something about developing parallel software, recently took time to talk with Herb in this session entitled Five Years Since 'Free Lunches': Making Use of Multicore Parallelism. It's always interesting when true experts sit down for a chat, and when it comes to implementing parallelism, you have to go a long way before finding greater expertise than these two in this session. Enjoy!

Say what you will, Herb has a penchant for getting other programmers excited for topics and issues that he feels passionate about -- stuff like parallelism and concurrency. Take Anthony Williams' recent article Enforcing Correct Mutex Usage with Synchronized Values, for instance, which was inspired by another Herb Sutter article:

In Associate Mutexes with Data to Prevent Races, Herb Sutter examined the importance of ensuring that the correct mutex is locked when accessing data, then presented one technique for achieving this. In this article, I present an alternative technique that I have used to achieve the same aims, in the form of the SynchronizedValue class template.

Then there's Deadlock-Proof Your Code: Part 1 and Deadlock-Proof Your Code: Part 2 by Kirk Krauss, which were also inspired in part by Herb's article. Kirk's technique is unique and useful, and you'll want to read it with care. It's worth noting, however, the late villain Lee Van Cleef gets top billing in Kirk's article. Sorry Herb.

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