Basic Information


Course overview

This course exposes students to the principal issues involved in software development for parallel computing and discusses a number of approaches to handle the problems and opportunities caused by the increased availability of parallel platforms.

The course includes lectures, assignments, self-study, and a project. 50% of your grade is determined by project work and 50% is determined by a written exam; the exam is given during the official examination period, and there is no makeup exam. Students must be able to program using Java and C/C++.

The course may cover: memory coherence and consistency models, implications for language-specific memory models, Java memory model, models of parallel programming and parallel program execution, performance models for parallel systems, transactional memory, compiler extraction of parallelism, language and compiler support for parallel programming, threads and their execution environment, synchronization, and implementation issues of these topics.

Course schedule

Lectures are given Mondays 13:15 - 16:00 in LEE D 101.

Recitation sessions take place Thursdays 13:15 -- 15:00 in LEE D 101 and take place when announced. Some of the lecture hours will be devoted to other activities (tutorials, reviews, etc) or will be devoted to group meetings. Please watch this page for updates and announcements.

Tentative schedule of lectures

Week Monday Thursday
0 09/19: no lecture 09/22: MPI Tutorial (white bg)
1 09/26: Organization - Introduction (1pp) (6pp) 09/29: Projects - Advanced MPI Tutorial
2 10/03: Cache Coherence & Memory Models (1pp) (6pp) 10/06: Cache Organization - Introduction to OpenMP
3 10/10: Memory Models (1pp) (6pp) 10/13: Sequential Consistency + OpenMP Synchronization
4 10/17: Linearizability (1pp) (6pp) 10/20: Linearizability
5 10/24: Languages and Locks (1pp) (6pp) 10/27: Locks
6 10/31: Amdahl's Law (1pp) (6pp) - Notes 11/03: Amdahl's Law
7 11/07: Project presentations 11/10: No recitation session
8 11/14: Roofline Model (1pp) (6pp) - Notes 11/17: Roofline Model
9 11/21: Balance Principles (1pp) (6pp) - Notes on Balance Principles / Scheduling (1pp) (6pp) - Nodes on Scheduling 11/24: Balance Priciples & Scheduling
10 11/28: Locks and Lock-Free (1pp) (6pp) 12/01: SPIN Tutorial
11 12/05: Lock-Free and distributed memory (1pp) (6pp) 12/08: Benchmarking - (paper)
12 12/12: Guest lecture - Dr. Tobias Grosser 12/15: Network Models
13 12/19: Final Presentations


If you want to discuss issues related to the class, please subscribe to the class mailinglist. This list is read by the instructors as well as the TA, and any student of the class who voluntarily subscribed to it. So it is a great place to discuss questions about homework or the lecture slides.


Assignments are an important part of the course. You will not learn this material from listening to a lecture alone -- you have to do the assignments.

Note: Do not hesitate to write an email to your TA if you have trouble with the assignments!

Number Assignment Description Solution
1 Assignment 1 (last slide) Parallel Pi with MPI Solution
2 Assignment 2 Cache Organization / Cache Coherence Solution Benchmark
3 Assignment 3 Sequential Consistency Solution
4 Assignment 4 Linearizability Solution
5 Assignment 5 Locks Solution
6 Assignment 6 Roofline & Balance Principles Solution
7 Assignment 7 (last two slides) SPIN Solution


Number Members Project Description Final Presentation
1 Niklas Hofmann, Razvan Damachi, Stefan Irimescu Parallel k-shortest paths
2 Maximilian Wurm, Sabir Akhadov, Madelin Schumacher Cloud Task Scheduling with Parallel ACO
3 Renggli Cédric, Christoph Heiniger Sparse Vector Reduction
4 Blum Sonja, Bamert Mauro, Wolf Felix, Rauchenstein Felix Connected Components
5 Andreas Zingg, Marc Fischer, Bozhidara Ivanova Parallel Convex Hull
6 Stefano Weidmann, Philip Müller, Manuel Rodriguez Maximum Flow
7 Lukas Drescher, Anton Permenev Causal Graph Learning
8 Marek Červák, Lorenzo Martini, Aleksander Matusiak Parallel Convex Hull
9 Nika Mansourighiasi, Lu Chen, Andrea Solo Approximate String Matching
10 Conradin Roffler, Isabelle Roesch, Samuel Ueltschi, Thomas Meier Maximum Cardinality Matching
11 Cedric Münger, Yannick Schaffner, Stephan Zehnder Delaunay Triangulation
12 Margomenos Spyridon, Peter Güttinger First Reaction Method
13 Rosenthal Jonathan, Jonas Kuratli, Jonathan Maurer Design of a Parallel Chess Engine

Template for project report


50% of your grade is determined by the project, and the other 50% of the grade is determined by a written 2 hr exam. You are not allowed to use any electronic devices or books, notes, etc. to the exam.


To implement your project you can utilize our Xeon Phi server. A single-page tutorial om how to run OpenMP programs on it can be found here. There exist a large number of books on programming multi-processors, multi-core system, or threads. These books may explore some topics in more depth than the lectures, or may provide background information. None of these books is mandatory. Copies of the first two books are "on reserve" the CS library.