Review of An Introduction to Parallel and Vector Scientific Computing

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On one hand, the field of high-performance scientific computing is thriving beyond measure. Performance of leading-edge systems on scientific calculations, as measured say by the Top500 list, has increased by an astounding factor of 8000 during the 15-year period from 1993 to 2008, which is slightly faster even than Moore's Law. Even more importantly, remarkable advances in numerical algorithms, numerical libraries and parallel programming environments have led to improvements in the scope of what can be computed that are entirely on a par with the advances in computing hardware. And these successes have spread far beyond the confines of large ... continued below

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Bailey, David H. & Lefton, Lew June 30, 2006.

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On one hand, the field of high-performance scientific computing is thriving beyond measure. Performance of leading-edge systems on scientific calculations, as measured say by the Top500 list, has increased by an astounding factor of 8000 during the 15-year period from 1993 to 2008, which is slightly faster even than Moore's Law. Even more importantly, remarkable advances in numerical algorithms, numerical libraries and parallel programming environments have led to improvements in the scope of what can be computed that are entirely on a par with the advances in computing hardware. And these successes have spread far beyond the confines of large government-operated laboratories, many universities, modest-sized research institutes and private firms now operate clusters that differ only in scale from the behemoth systems at the large-scale facilities. In the wake of these recent successes, researchers from fields that heretofore have not been part of the scientific computing world have been drawn into the arena. For example, at the recent SC07 conference, the exhibit hall, which long has hosted displays from leading computer systems vendors and government laboratories, featured some 70 exhibitors who had not previously participated. In spite of all these exciting developments, and in spite of the clear need to present these concepts to a much broader technical audience, there is a perplexing dearth of training material and textbooks in the field, particularly at the introductory level. Only a handful of universities offer coursework in the specific area of highly parallel scientific computing, and instructors of such courses typically rely on custom-assembled material. For example, the present reviewer and Robert F. Lucas relied on materials assembled in a somewhat ad-hoc fashion from colleagues and personal resources when presenting a course on parallel scientific computing at the University of California, Berkeley, a few years ago. Thus it is indeed refreshing to see the publication of the book An Introduction to Parallel and Vector Scientic Computing, written by Ronald W. Shonkwiler and Lew Lefton, both of the Georgia Institute of Technology. They have taken the bull by the horns and produced a book that appears to be entirely satisfactory as an introductory textbook for use in such a course. It is also of interest to the much broader community of researchers who are already in the field, laboring day by day to improve the power and performance of their numerical simulations. The book is organized into 11 chapters, plus an appendix. The first three chapters describe the basics of system architecture including vector, parallel and distributed memory systems, the details of task dependence and synchronization, and the various programming models currently in use - threads, MPI and OpenMP. Chapters four through nine provide a competent introduction to floating-point arithmetic, numerical error and numerical linear algebra. Some of the topics presented include Gaussian elimination, LU decomposition, tridiagonal systems, Givens rotations, QR decompositions, Gauss-Seidel iterations and Householder transformations. Chapters 10 and 11 introduce Monte Carlo methods and schemes for discrete optimization such as genetic algorithms.

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  • Report No.: LBNL-3495E
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • DOI: 10.2172/983319 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 983319
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc1015630

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Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • June 30, 2006

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  • Oct. 14, 2017, 8:36 a.m.

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  • Oct. 18, 2017, 10:36 a.m.

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Bailey, David H. & Lefton, Lew. Review of An Introduction to Parallel and Vector Scientific Computing, report, June 30, 2006; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1015630/: accessed April 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.