Wim Bohm
Office: 470 CS Building
Office Hours: Tue, Thur: 14:00-15:00 PM
Waruna Ranasinghe
Office: 335 CS Building
Office Hours: (In Lab 120) Thur: 8:00-10:00 AM and 7:00-9:00 PM
Lecture Time and Place:
12:30-1:45, Tue, Thur, CSB Room 130
Recitation 1 Time and Place:
8:00-9:40, Mon, CSB 225
Recitation 2 Time and Place:
5:00-6:40, Thur, CSB 225

Parallel programming is becoming increasingly critical for computer scientists and engineers. All new machines are now parallel. There is already a movement suggesting that all students be taught parallel programming in the introductory courses, sequential programming being viewed as a special case. Parallel programming is not easy. For current CPUs, it requires awareness of the multiprocessor / multicore architecture, the cache hierarchy, and in some cases, the vector floating point capabilities

This course will teach you the basic concepts of designing, writing, debugging, and analyzing parallel programs. It covers the two main paradigms: shared memory, and message passing. We will also examine a number of parallel algorithms for a range of problems.

Parallel programming is becoming increasingly critical for a computer scientist/engineer. However, parallel programming is not easy. Patterson at LCPC 2006 eloquently claimed that we were, even then, at the end of the "La-Z-Boy Programming." meaning "programming unaware of the multicore architecture, the cache and memory hierarchy, or the vector floating point capabilities of the new machines." Indeed, the skills you learn here will also improve performance of your sequential programs.

This course covers the two main parallel programming paradigms: shared memory, and message passing. We will also examine a number of parallel algorithms for a range of problems. In this hands-on class you will:

  • write a number of programs in C dialects supporting three different parallel programming paradigms (openMP, MPI, and CUDA);
  • run them on CS department Unix platforms or on the supercomputer at ISTeC;
  • measure the running time as a function of problem size and number of processors;
  • analyze your observations; and report on your observations and analyses.
Because this class is a capstone course for the undergraduate Computer Science curriculum, there is a significant writing component. This includes lab reports and a project report.


CS 370 System Architecture and Software or instructor consent


Parallel Programming in C with MPI and OpenMP, Michael J. Quinn (Mc Graw Hill, 2003 ISBN 0-07-282256-2). This textbook is out of print in North America. If you are able to get it from any other source (eBay, Amazon, international, etc.) that is fine, but we have worked out an arrangement with the publisher to make the required chapters available to students. This will cost about $30, and can be purchased at the CSU bookstore. The ISBN of this version is 9780390180803 (prefix 13:)


Here are the formally graded elements of the course and associated weighting:

Activity Weight
Programming Assignments 30 %
Tests (Midterm & Final) 40 %
Labs/Discussions 10 %
Quizzes/Participation 10 %
Final Project: term paper 10 %

Semester grades are determined by the weighted sum of points earned in each of these areas. Tests will be done individually and grades assigned on an individual basis. The assignment of letter grades will be made as follows (we reserve the right to lower any of the cutoff points):

 Grade   Score 
A ≥ 90%
A- ≥ 88%
B+ ≥ 86%
B ≥ 80%
B- ≥ 78%
C+ ≥ 76%
C ≥ 70%
D ≥ 60%
F < 60%

Late and Makeup Policy

Midterm and Final: Make-up exams are only given for extraordinary circumstances (e.g., illness, family emergency). Students must consult with the instructor as soon as possible, before the start of the exam. Course examination dates are listed in the syllabus; be aware of them and plan accordingly.

Programming Assignments: Programming assignments will be submitted using the Checkin tab on this website. Specifics will be included in each assignment. Always check the assignment page for due dates. Late assignments will not be accepted; students not having submitted programs/reports receive an automatic zero on the assignment.


The project entails finding some interesting topic (papers or a web site on) in Parallel Computing (e.g., a Parallel Programming Language, or System, or Algorithm) and writing a one to two page paper on it. The goal is to teach yourself (and me) something exciting in Parallel Computing, and to concisely communicate that.

Important Dates

In class midtermOct 5
Final Exam Dec 13 6:20-8:20 pm in class
Dec 14 - Dec 17 On line

Midterms and the final exam will be held in the same classroom as regular lectures. On line exams will be taken as a quizz.

While no change to the midterm dates is anticipated, the instructor reserves the right to change these dates with a weeks notice.

In Class Participation

All students taking this course are expected to participate actively. For all students, this includes asking and responding to questions. There will canvas reading quizzes.

Professional Conduct

All students are expected to conduct themselves professionally. We (the instructors and GTAs) assume you are familiar with the policies in the student information sheet for the department. Additionally, you are computing professionals, albeit perhaps just starting. You should be familiar with the code of conduct for the primary professional society, ACM. You can read the ACM Code of Conduct HERE.

We work to maintain an environment supportive of learning in the classroom and laboratory. Towards that end, we require that you be courteous to and respectful of your fellow participants (i.e., classmates, instructors, GTAs and any tutors). In particular:

  • Please turn off the ring on your cell phone. If you are expecting an emergency call, sit near the door and slide out discretely to take it.
  • In class use of electronic devices in general, and laptops specifically, is permitted as a courtesy so that you may better participate and learn. If at any time the instructor judges that an electronic device is becoming a distraction the student may be asked to to turn it off and put it away.
  • All exams and quizzes are to be done without the aid of notes of any kind. Laptops and all other electronic devices must be shut and put away during exams and quizzes.