Computer Science 338
Parallel Processing

Instructor: Jim Teresco, TCL 304, 597-4251
Electronic mail: domain:, username: terescoj
Required Text: Jordan and Alaghband, Fundamentals of Parallel Processing, Prentice-Hall, 2003. ISBN 0-13-901158-7
Optional Text: Gropp, Lusk, and Skjellum, Using MPI, Portable Parallel Programming with the Message-Passing Interface, second edition, MIT Press, 1999. ISBN 0-262-57134-X. Also available from Schow as an eBook. Search in FRANCIS for more information.
Class Web:
Class Hour: Tuesday/Thursday 9:55-11:10, TCL 206
Lab Meetings: self-scheduled
Office Hours: T 4-5, W 11-12, F 1-2:30, by appointment
Teaching Assistant: Chris Kelley (03crk) half-time - Chris has office hours for CS136 Tuesdays 9-11 PM


Everything on this syllabus is subject to change. Changes will be announced in class and updated in the online version of the syllabus.

Course Objectives

This course is a broad introduction to parallel and distributed computing. Topics include parallel programming techniques, languages, and libraries, a survey of parallel architectures, performance analysis, and theoretical issues of parallel computation. Parallel hardware, both in the department and at supercomputing centers, is used to implement several programming projects.


  • Computer Science 256, Algorithm Design and Analysis. Taking this class concurrently should be sufficient.
  • Computer Science 237, Computer Organization.
  • You should also be able to design and implement significant programs in the C language, including appropriate documentation. This is a project course, so expect significant programming.
  • If you know C++ or Java, you should be able to adapt this knowledge to program in C without too much trouble. Please ask if you are concerned about writing C programs.
  • Lectures

    Students are expected to attend class and participate in discussions. Come to class prepared. Assigned readings from the textbook are listed on the lecture and reading schedule. Additional readings may be given occasionally. Lectures will assume you are familiar with the material in the readings.


    Evaluation will be based on homework and projects, and two exams. As this is a project course, the largest portion of the grade is based on projects.

    Breakdown: Scale:
    Homeworks and Projects 35% A+ >= 97% A >= 93% A- >= 90%
    Midterm Exam 15% B+ >= 87% B >= 83% B- >= 80%
    Final Exam 25% C+ >= 77% C >= 73% C- >= 70%
    Final Project 25% D+ >= 68% D >= 66% D- >= 65%
    E < 65%

    Assignments will be made approximately weekly. Assignments will have a written and/or a programming component. The number of points available will vary with the complexity of the assignment. Programming assignments are designated as "practice programs," "laboratory programs," "test programs," or "team programs." See the honor code guidelines regarding each type of programming assignment. You may develop your programs anywhere (Computers in the lab, your own PC, etc.) but grading will be done using the Computer Science Lab's Unix systems unless otherwise specified. It is your responsibility to ensure that your program works on the grading platform. Programming projects will be graded on design, documentation, style, correctness, and efficiency. Project writeups and answers to project questions are expected to be well-written. In many cases, the writeup is more important (and worth a larger percentage of the grade) than the source code.

    Unless otherwise specified, late work may be turned in with a penalty computed as 1.08h%, where h is the number of hours late. In fairness to those students who submit their work on time, extensions will only be granted in serious situations and must be arranged through the Dean's office. You can find a C program that prints out a table of the late penalties here. Work turned in after solutions have been made available cannot receive credit. All assignments and projects are to be submitted via the turnin utility unless otherwise specified. Please submit plain text where appropriate and Postscript or PDF otherwise. Please avoid application-specific formats (e.g., Word documents). If in doubt about a file format, please check with me first. Keep a copy of all submissions for yourself.

    Questions about the grading of assignments or exams should be asked as soon as possible. No adjustments will be made more than one week after the graded work is returned.

    Details of the midterm and final exams will be made available later in the semester.

    Grades for individual assignments and exams are not scaled. Any scaling deemed appropriate will take place at the end of the semester by adjusting the above thresholds. Thresholds may be adjusted downward (thereby raising grades) but will never be adjusted upward.

    Honor Code

    The Honor Code as it applies to non-programming assignments is outlined in the Student Handbook.

    For programming assignments in Computer Science courses, the honor code is interpreted in very specific ways. When a program is assigned, your instructor will identify it as a "practice," "test," "laboratory," or "team" program. The Honor Code applies differently to each with respect to collaboration or assistance from anyone other than the TAs or instructors:

    Practice Programs. These are provided to help you gain an understanding of a topic, and are not graded. Guideline: Help on these programs is unrestricted.

    Test Programs. Any assignment designated as a test program is to be treated exactly as a take-home, open-book test. You are allowed to read your textbook, class notes, and any other source approved by your instructor. You may not consult anyone other than your instructor. The instructor encourages the asking of questions, but reserves the right not to answer, just as you would expect during an exam. Guideline: Any work that is not your own is considered a violation of the honor code.

    Laboratory Programs. Laboratory programs are expected to be the work of the individual student, designed and coded by him or her alone. Help locating errors is allowed, but a student may only receive help in correcting errors of syntax; help in correcting errors of logic is strictly forbidden. Guideline: Assistance from anyone other than the TAs or instructors in the design or coding of program logic will be considered a violation of the honor code.

    Team Programs. Team programs are laboratory or test programs to be worked on in teams of two or more students. You are allowed to discuss team programs with your partners, but work with others is otherwise restricted by the appropriate rules above. Guideline: Any work that is not the work of your team is considered a violation of the honor code.

    If you do not understand how the honor code applies to a particular assignment, consult your instructor.

    Students should be aware of the Computer Ethics outlined in the Student Handbook. Violations (including uninvited access to private information and malicious tampering or theft of computer equipment or software) are subject to disciplinary action.

    Guideline: To protect your work dispose of printouts and diskettes carefully, and avoid leaving your programs on hard disks in labs and other public storage areas.

    The Department of Computer Science takes the Honor Code seriously. Violations are easy to identify and will be dealt with promptly.