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A pilot study to compare programming effort for two parallel programming models



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A pilot study to compare programming effort for two parallel programming models Lorin Hochstein a Victor R Basili b Uzi Vishkin c John Gilbert d a University of Nebraska Lincoln Department of Computer Science Engineering b University c University d University of Maryland Computer Science Department of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies of California Santa Barbara Computer Science Department Abstract Context Writing software for the current generation of parallel systems requires significant programmer effort and the community is seeking alternatives that reduce effort while still achieving good performance Objective Measure the effect of parallel programming models message passing vs PRAM like on programmer effort Design Setting and Subjects One group of subjects implemented sparse matrix dense vector multiplication using message passing MPI and a second group solved the same problem using a PRAM like model XMTC The subjects were students in two graduate level classes one class was taught MPI and the other was taught XMTC Main Outcome Measures Development time program correctness Results Mean XMTC development time was 4 8 hours less than mean MPI development time 95 confidence interval 2 0 7 7 a 46 reduction XMTC programs were more likely to be correct but the difference in correctness rates was not statistically significant p 16 Conclusions XMTC solutions for this particular problem required less effort than MPI equivalents but further studies are necessary which examine different types of problems and different levels of programmer experience Key words MPI XMT message passing PRAM empirical study parallel programming effort Corresponding author Email addresses lorin hochstein ieee org Lorin Hochstein Preprint submitted to Elsevier 28 December 2007 1 Introduction While desktop computers today are very powerful there remain many computational tasks of interest that conventional computers cannot complete in a reasonable time Such tasks are especially



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