Snir gives keynote address at distributed computing conference

August 14, 2013

Marc Snir, director of Argonne’s Mathematics and Computer Science Division and Argonne Distinguished Fellow, delivered a keynote address at the joint PODC/SPAA symposium held in Montreal, Canada, July 22-24, 2013.

The PODC (Principles of Distributed Computing) symposium was collocated this year with SPAA (Symposium on Parallelism in Algorithms and Architectures). Both annual conferences are sponsored by the Association for Computer Machinery.

Snir’s presentation, titled "Supercomputing: Technical Evolution and Programming Models," began with a description of punctuated equilibrium and three technological (r)evolutionary developments in high-performance computing: "killer micros," multicore systems, and, most recently, accelerators. He then examined the role that theory has played — "Too often, theory follows practice, rather than preceding it" — and discussed areas where research is needed: for example, algorithms designed for multilevel hierarchies, tradeoffs between communication and computation, resilient distributed systems, algorithms that can detect silent data corruptions, tradeoff between synchronicity and computation, and architecture-specific algorithms.