DEPARTMENT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE
DOCTORAL DISSERTATION DEFENSE


Candidate: Shih-Chen Huang
Advisor: Zvi M. Kedem


Supporting a Flexible Parallel Programming Model on a Network of Non-Dedicated Workstations


10:00 a.m., Friday, December 10, 1999
7th floor conference room, 715 Broadway




Abstract

A network of non-dedicated workstations can provide computational resources at minimal or no additional cost. If harnessed properly, the combined computational power of these otherwise ``wasted'' resources can outperform even mainframe computers. Performing demanding computations on a network of non-dedicated workstations efficiently has previously been studied, but inadequate handling of the unpredictable behavior of the environment and possible failures resulted in limited success only.

This dissertation presents a shared memory software system for executing programs with nested parallelism and synchronization on a network of non-dedicated workstations. The programming model exhibits a very convenient and natural programming style and is especially suitable for computations whose complexity and parallelism emerges only during their execution, such as in divide and conquer problems. To both support and take advantage of the flexibility inherent in the programming model, an architecture that distributes both the shared memory management and the computation is developed. This architecture removes bottlenecks inherent in centralization, thus enhancing scalability and dependability. By adapting available resource dynamically and coping with unpredictable machine slowdowns and failures, the system also supports dynamic load balancing, and fault tolerance--both transparently to the programmer.