The University of Western Ontario
London, Canada

Department of Computer Science

CS435b/CS635b --Parallel Scientific Computing: Models, Algorithms and Implementation

Course Outline -- Winter 2008

Course Description

Current hardware improvements have focused on increasing the number of computations that can be performed in parallel rather than on increasing clock speed alone. This change has brought multi-core workstations to the desktop, expanding interest in parallel algorithms and software capable of exploiting these computing resources. The aim of the course is to introduce you to the art of analyzing and designing parallel algorithms. The following concepts will guide our quest for high performance: finding parallelism, scalability, granularity, locality, synchronization, scheduling and load balance. Out of the course, you are anticipated to have an in depth understanding of some important parallel machine models, parallel complexity theory, fundamental parallel algorithms (for sorting, linear algebra, FFT) and parallel programming environments and tools such as MPI, OpenMP, Cilk, Kaapi, UPC, Linpack.



Name:Marc Moreno Maza
Office Hours: Thursday 1:00-3:00 pm
Phone:661-2111 x6891

Lecture Notes and Textbook

Notes of each lecture will be available on the course website, approximatively one week after the oral presentation. The format is Postscript or PDF.

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. Performance analysis of parallel programs
  2. Parallel machine models
  3. Parallel complexity theory
  4. Parallel sorting
  5. Parallel programming environments
  6. Solving systems of linear equations in parallel
  7. Scheduling and load balancing
  8. Code optimization for parallelism and locality

Class Schedule

Lectures: 3 hours (Monday from 12:30 to 2:30pm and Tuesday from 4:30 to 5:30pm in MC320). In general, a lecture consists of a talk by the instructor followed by an exercise session.

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. 28Mo, Feb. 18light
Assignment Two20%Mo, Feb. 18Mo, Mar. 17light
Project 40%Th, Mar. 3Mo, Apr. 7regular
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 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.


Projects will be presented by the students during the class on the (tentative) dates 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.

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: Frid Nov 22 5:11:44 EDT 2002