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Parallelism: not exactly a new field of study
Thanks to Lambda the Ultimate for the pointer to this ACM article on the history of parallel computing. Doesn't say anything radical and new -- indeed, it is specifically about stuff that is old -- but it's useful for providing perspective. The main point of the article is that, while parallel computing looks like The Big New Thing, most of the groundwork and research was actually done in the '60s and '70s, and that those who are trying to do it seriously should go back and read into all that old (and largely forgotten) research.

The main upshot seems to be a fine argument for Scala, really. They manage to somewhat indirectly argue that, if you want to be doing parallelism seriously, you should be using a functional language, but that people really want something object-oriented. So while they don't say so in as many words, they effectively argue that multi-paradigm languages like Scala and Oz are the way of the future.

And speaking of parallelism and Scala, the really hardcore may want to check out this presentation from ScalaDays (30 min video; here's the low-res version). It demonstrates a new open-source project out of LinkedIn, called Norbert, which provides a solid high-level API for creating and managing a distributed system of nodes for doing real work. Towards the end, he spends a while showing specifically why Scala worked so well for this -- not only the Actors architecture for parallelism, but also the rich trait system that lets them eliminate duplicate code.

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Heh. Parallel processing was part of my graduate school research--it was more along the lines of using parallel processing to solve mesh problems and reduce the time to solve some intractable problems rather than 'fundamental research into parallel processing'.

The sad part is that the nifty hypercube we were using for our simulations back then is now considered slower and less powerful than the CPU sitting in the laptop I use on a daily basis. We only had a C compiler if I remember correctly....

I'm kind of sorry I left all that behind.

Edited at 2010-06-01 07:07 pm (UTC)

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