Parallel and Distributed Programming Using C++

Author: Cameron Hughes, Tracey Hughes, Tracy Hughes
List Price: $54.99
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ISBN: 0131013769
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Pub Co (29 August, 2003)
Edition: Hardcover
Sales Rank: 77,758
Average Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Customer Reviews

Rating: 4 out of 5
Excellent introduction to parallel programming
I'm currently an undergraduate computer science student here at Youngstown State University, and in the course of research work for a Physics professor here, I have spent the last year struggling with learning what were very new concepts to me. I actually know Cameron in "real life," and on the occaisons I would run into him and try to get some advice on how to get my MPI scripts running correctly, etc., his reponse would invariably be "wait for the book, it will all be in there, I promise." Muddling through several poorly-written primers on programming for our cluster, and material on programming scattered on various part of the web, I can emphatically state my excitement that the book is finally done.

I consider myself to be very much an amateur programmer, which is important. With the increasingly widespread use of inexpensive computer clusters, many amateurs like myself find themselves in the position of having to learn something completely new. Moreover, many researchers don't particularly want to invest a great deal of time in something that is little more than a tool for them to get their "real" work done. For those of us who fall into that category, I think Camereon's book is a godsend. It covers all of the major areas of interest in a technically thorough way, without being too challenging or offputting for a beginner. The book starts with some of the basics of how a UNIX(Linux) system works, and how parallelism and multiproccessing fit in. By the time you start coding, you have a firm grasp of just what is going on. If you're familiar with C++, but have never done any parallel programming, this book is for you.

My personal opinion is that anyone becoming a new cluster user(They've been regularly doling clusters out here in Ohio) should recieve a copy of this book. A wonderful introduction. My only real complaint has been that Cameron didn't write it a year ago :-D

Rating: 5 out of 5
Covers the topics VERY well
This book covers the MPI (Message Passing Interface) library, the PVM (Parallel Virtual Machine) library, and the MICO (CORBA) library. If any these libraries were new to you, then this book is would be very beneficial to you.

So many books have been written on PTHREADS, threading, multiprocessing, etc, and yet, this book seems to cover more grounds, teach more concepts, and show you more simple but useful examples that any other one's that I have seen. The books on PTHREADS cover threading, there are a number of books on multiprocessing, networking (Stevens book comes to mind), but as far as generic multiprocessing, and parallel processing is concerned, this book is the key. Hughes and Hughes have written another similar book, but that book mainly covered C++ and threading (hence the title of the book). This book covers other great C++ tools such as the PVM (parallel virtual machine), which to my limited knowledge has not been covered greatly in any other books.

The first couple of chapters cover basic Operating System stuff. I don't know if it's because I have working for a number of years, or not, but the it actually made sense. We all have read the ever popular Modern Operating Systems book, but that book is somewhat dry. Maybe I think that say since I HAD to read the book for my class, but that feeling hasn't changed. This book covered the topics that you NEED to know, if you want to be able to write a program that takes advantage of some of the libraries mentioned above (MPI, PVM, MICO, and PTHREADS). It talks about the benefits, differences, and ideas behind parallel and distributed programming.

The next two chapters are probably the best chapters I have read on the topics of Multiprocessing and Multithreading respectively. The chapters are titled "Dividing C++ Programs into multiple tasks," and, "Dividing C++ Programs into multiple Threads."
I cannot say enough about how good these two chapters cover the topics. They start by the definition of both models, and they peel the onion as each chapter moves along. By the end of the chapter, you have seen examples, different design models for each method, and the pros and cons of each design model. Following these two chapters, a chapter is dedicated to synchronization and issues that go along with that in multithreaded/multiprocessing applications.

PVM, the Parallel Virtual Machine, is covered in chapter 6. This chapter must be my favorite chapter in the entire book. The authors give the following description for PVM:
"The PVM represents a collection of networked computers to the developer as a single logical machine with parallel capabilities."

The authors goes further and says:
"The PVM library is perhaps the easiest way to add parallel programming capabilities to the C++ language."

In general, the PVM is broken down into seven categories:
i)Process Management and Control: Routines used to manage and control PVM process
ii)Message Packing and Sending: Routines used to pack messages into a send buffer and send messages from one PVM process to another
iii) Message Unpacking and Receiving: Routines used to receive messages and unpack the data from the active buffer
iv)Task Signaling: Routines used to signal and notify PVM processes about the occurrence of an event
v)Message Buffer Management: Routines used to initialize, empty, dispose, and otherwise manage buffers between PVM processes
vi)Information and Utility Functions: Routines used to return information about a PVM process and perform other important tasks
vii)Group Operation: Routines used [in] joining, leaving, and otherwise managing processes in a group.

The authors then go in to detail covering the two programming models used commonly with the PVM: SPMD (Single Program Multiple Data), and MPMD (Multiple Program Multiple Data):

"In the SPMD model, the tasks will execute the same set of instructions but on different pieces of data. In the MPMD model, each task executes different instructions on different data"

The topics covered in PVM also apply to the chapter that covered MPI, the Message Passing Interface covered in Chapter 10. The authors go a step further in this chapter and talk about how some of C++ features such as polymorphism, generic programming and templates, and operator overload can be used in conjunction with the MPI to make programming simpler and more efficient.

The authors go into detail in the next few chapters about the Software Engineering aspects of the topics covered. Modeling aspects are covered first, and then applications and design. UML is used to show the readers how to represent concurrent and parallel designs. Flow charts, activity diagrams, class diagrams and state diagrams are used to represent the examples that were covered throughout the book.

A closer look at C++ and Object Orientation covers some advanced topics in the book. Various C++ class types are used in examples to show the modeling aspect and then the designing aspect of concurrent and parallel programming.

The last chapter of the book uses all the concepts covered in the book to implement a full-blown blackboard application. The BB is an approach to collaborative problem solving. The BB is used to record, coordinate, and communicate the efforts of two or more software-based problem solvers. The authors design and implement the BB using various architectural methodologies covered in the book: using the PVM, Threads, and CORBA. The examples certainly put everything that were covered in the book in perspective and enable the user to understand and grasp the topic at hand very simply.

C. Hughes and T Hughes picked a very difficult topic to cover and they did one fantastic job at doing so. The examples are great. The topics are covered very thoroughly, and yet are very understandable. Any series C++ programmer, developer, or architect would benefit lots from this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Great Book!!
Neat approach when discussing parallel and distributed programming, very good book. Keep up the good work.

Raise the right hand.

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