Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Parallel Programming in High School

Intel recently made a press release regarding a program they are hosting at Brooklyn Technical High School. To the question in the title: Are High School Whiz Kids Ready to "Think Parallel?", I respond with a resounding YES! But perhaps that's just where I'm from. My high school has offered at least one course in parallel computing every year (formerly called "Supercomputing Applications") since the late 80s, it seems, and even the introductory computer science course that I took there went a bit into threading, if not the other more advanced aspects of parallelism. It probably helped that we had a supercomputer on-site for a large number of those years (and still do today, although it is largely obsolete). We very recently built a modern x86 cluster, and have also been using NVidia graphics cards to cover GPU programming using CUDA since last year. In any event, I'm glad to see that more technical high schools are covering parallel programming, especially today when even a laptop typically has two CPU cores.

EDIT: For those nitpickers out there, my mention of threading was meant to say that if you don't understand threading, you probably won't understand parallel computing either, since in my opinion, threading is a simpler related concept.

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