Architectural Adaptability in Parallel Programming

Lawrence A. Crowl, "Architectural Adaptability in Parallel Programming", Ph.D. Dissertation, Technical Report 381, Department of Computer Science, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, 14627-0226, May 1991

To create a parallel program, programmers must decide what parallelism to exploit, and choose the associated data distribution and communication. Since a typical algorithm has much more potential parallelism than any single architecture can effectively exploit, programmers usually express only the exploitation of parallelism appropriate to a single machine. Unfortunately, parallel architectures vary widely. A program that executes efficiently on one architecture may execute badly, if at all, on another architecture. To port such a program to a new architecture, we must rewrite the program to remove any ineffective parallelism, to introduce any parallelism appropriate for the new machine, to re-distribute data and processing, and to alter the form of communication.

Architectural adaptability is the ease with which programmers can tune or port a program to a different architecture. The thesis of this dissertation is that control abstraction is fundamental to architectural adaptability for parallel programs. With control abstraction, we can define and use a rich variety of control constructs to represent an algorithm's potential parallelism. Since control abstraction separates the definition of a construct from its implementation, a construct may have several different implementations, each providing different exploitations of parallelism. By selecting an implementation for each use of a control construct with annotations, we can vary the parallelism we choose to exploit without otherwise changing the source code.

We present Matroshka, a programming model that supports architectural adaptability in parallel programs through object-based data abstraction and closure-based control abstraction. Using the model, we develop several working example programs, and show that the example programs adapt well to different architectures. We also outline a programming method based on abstraction. To show the implementation feasibility of our approach, we describe a prototype language based on Matroshka, describe its implementation, and compare the performance of the prototype with existing programs.

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