The University of Western Ontario
London, Canada

Department of Computer Science

CS4435/CS9624b -- High Performance Computing with a Focus on Hardware Acceleration Technologies

Course Outline -- Winter 2010

Course Description

Current hardware improvements focus on increasing the number of computations that can be performed in parallel rather than on increasing clock speed alone. This change has brought multi-processor workstations to the desktop, expanding interest in parallel algorithms and software capable of exploiting these computing resources. At the same time, these new hardware acceleration technologies stress the need of a deeper understanding of performance issues in software design.

The aim of this course is to introduce you to the design and analysis of algorithms and software programs capable of taking advantage of these new computing resources. The following concepts will guide our quest for high performance: parallelism, scalability, granularity, locality, cache complexity, synchronization, scheduling and load balancing.

Out of the course, you are anticipated to have an in depth understanding of the following subjects:

scheduling and load balancing.

A quarter part of the course will give an overview of other hot topics in high performance computing, including the following ones:

Prerequisites for undergraduate students


Name:Marc Moreno Maza
Office Hours: Tuesday 2:30-4:40 pm
Phone:661-2111 x6891

Lecture Notes and Textbook

Notes of each lecture will be available on the course website, approximatively one or two days after the oral presentation. There is no textbook.

Course Website

The course web site is accessible from:

Please check the site often for updates on lecture notes and errata. Also be aware that the course website is not a substitute for actual classroom attendance!

Lecture Topics

The list of topics will be something on the order of:

  1. Multithreading parallelism and performance
  2. Analysis of multithreaded algorithms
  3. Synchronizing without locks
  4. Cache complexity, I/O complexity
  5. Practical issues with data locality and parallelism
  6. Optimizing code for locality and parallelism
  7. Auto-tuning techniques
  8. Many-core processors

Class Schedule

Lectures: 3 hours (Monday from 1:30 to 4:30pm in MC316). In general, a lecture consists of a talk by the instructor followed by an exercise session or a quiz.

Each student is expected to attend the lectures. In particular, quizzes (short written tests) may take place without notice.

Student Evaluation

Assignment/Project/Quiz Schedule

All dates are tentative and currently subject to change, although it is doubtful by any significant amount.

Evaluation Technique Weight Posted Date (tentative!) Due Date (tentative!) Workload
Assignment One20%Mo, Jan. 31Mo, Feb. 14light
Assignment Two20%Mo, Feb. 22Mo, Mar. 7light
CS 4435 Project 40%Mo, Mar. 8Mo, Apr. 5regular
CS 9624 Project 1 40%Mo, Jan. 31Mo, Mar. 7regular
CS 9624 Project 2 40%Mo, Mar. 8Mo, Apr. 5regular
Quizzes10% eachN/AvariousN/A

If for any reason the schedule given above cannot be adhered to, the assignment, project and quiz marks will be pro-rated. For instance, if an assignment has to be canceled for any reason, the remaining assignment weight will be prorated to add up to 30%.)

Every effort will be made to have assignments, projects and quizzes marked and handed back within 3 weeks of the hand-in date, preferably sooner.


Quizzes may be held without being announced in advance.

Quizzes will be closed book.


Assignments will be due on the (tentative) dates listed above. The assignment can be sent by email to the instructor or given to the instructor during the class or at office hours.

Extensions will be granted only by the course instructor. If you have serious medical or compassionate grounds for an extension, you should take supporting documentation to the office of the Dean of your faculty, who will contact the instructor.


CS 4435 Projects and CS 9624 Projects 2 will be presented by the students during the class on the (tentative) date listed above.

It is expected that presentation session may last longer than a usual class.

Computing Facilities

Each student will be given an account on the Computer Science Department senior undergraduate computing facility, GAUL. In accepting the GAUL account, a student agrees to abide by the department's Rules of Ethical Conduct

Note: After-hours access to certain Computer Science lab rooms is by student card. If a student card is lost, a replacement card will no longer open these lab rooms, and the student must bring the new card to a member of the Systems Group in Middlesex College Room 346.

Email Contact

The instructor will occasionally need to send email messages to the whole class, or to students individually. Email will be sent to your GAUL email address. You must make sure that you read your email on GAUL on a frequent and regular basis, or have it forwarded to an alternative email address if you prefer to read it there.

However, you should note that email at ITS (your UWO account) and other email providers such as or may have quotas or limits on the amount of space they can use. If you let your email accumulate there, your mailbox may fill up and you may lose important email from the instructor. Losing email that you have forwarded to an alternative email address is not an excuse for not knowing about the information that was sent.

Students can ask questions via email, however if there are any large, somewhat complicated issues, it is recommended to discuss them during office hours. Moreover, you MUST use your UWO account or your GAUL account in order to write to the instructor. Emails from non-academic accounts will be automatically ignored.

Academic Accommodation for Medical Illness

If you are unable to meet a course requirement due to illness or other serious circumstances, you must provide valid medical or other supporting documentation to your Dean's office as soon as possible and contact your instructor immediately. It is the student's responsibility to make alternative arrangements with their instructor once the accommodation has been approved and the instructor has been informed. In the event of a missed final exam, a "Recommendation of Special Examination" form must be obtained from the Dean's Office immediately. For further information please see

A student requiring academic accommodation due to illness should use the Student Medical Certificate when visiting an off-campus medical facility or request a Record's Release Form (located in the Dean's Office) for visits to Student Health Services. The form can be found at

Ethical Conduct

All assignments are individual assignments. You may discuss approaches to problems among yourselves; however, the actual details of the work (assignment coding, answers to concept questions, etc.) must be an individual effort. Assignments that are judged to be the result of academic dishonesty will, for the student's first offense, be given a mark of zero with an additional penalty equal to the weight of the assignment also being applied. You are responsible for reading and respecting the Computer Science Department's policy on Scholastic Offenses and Rules of Ethical Conduct.

Students must write their essays and assignments in their own words. Whenever students take an idea, or a passage from another author, they must acknowledge their debt both by using quotation marks where appropriate and by proper referencing such as footnotes or citations. Plagiarism is a major academic offense (see Scholastic Offense Policy in the Western Academic Calendar).

The University of Western Ontario uses software for plagiarism checking. Students may be required to submit their written work and programs in electronic form for plagiarism checking.

Marc Moreno Maza
Last modified: Sun Jan 3 0:33:44 EDT 2009