parallel programming survey results
Wed Feb 22 01:47:22 CET 2006
On 22/02/2006, at 2:48 AM, Luke Gorrie wrote:
> Daniel Luna <daniel@REDACTED> writes:
>> "At [insert mailing list THEY sent to] there are probably a lot of
>> [insert programming language] programmers, so these figures cannot be
>> taken too seriously."
> I can sympathise with the surveyors. They seem to be interested in
> parallel programming as in "using lots of hardware in parallel to
> solve a problem" like SETI, CGI rendering farms, etc. I bet they got a
> lot of responses from Erlang people writing internet servers & telecom
> systems which are another kettle of fish entirely.
> I don't think they did a very good job of spelling out what
> applications they were interested in though.
You touch on two reasons why this paper was a waste of time.
The choice of forums to advertise the survey predicted the outcome.
comp.parallel : a moderated FAQ and RFP newsgroup supporting the
other two c.p.* groups.
comp.parallel.mpi : a C/C++/Fortran library for building distributed
applications in C/C++/Fortran.
comp.parallel.pvm: a C/C++/Fortran library for building distributed
applications in C/C++/Fortran.
comp.sys.super: another FAQ/RFP newsgroup.
aus.computers.parallel: There have been exactly 8 posts since your
survey announcement in Oct (6 were spam)! a dead-group.
comp.programming.threads: an active group discussing the use of
threads in C/C++ especially pthreads. If you doubt me, consider that
the past 20 threads included 115 posts, of these 91 were exclusively
C/C++/pthreads focused, 11 were lower level that language, 3 were
spam, 2 were misposts and only 8 were remotely generic - none of
which mentioned any language except C/C++.
beowulf - good choice, but heavily dominated by MPI/PVM based
mpi - C/C++/Fortran
pvm - C/C++/Fortran
OpenMP x2 - C/C++/Fortran
BSP - (from the website) "BSPlib can be used with C, C++, or Fortran."
I don't know anything about the forums,
Slashdot - good choice.
Note that despite the survey's claim to survey 'parallel
programmers', and its stated desire to test the claim "Java threads
is growing strong", the survey was restricted to users of C, C++, and
Fortran. It did not in any meaning way survey 'parallel
programmers', or make any attempt to assess the use of Java in this
So the paper's results should have been summarised as
"If we ask C/C++/Fortran programmers what language they use they
predominately answer C/C++/Fortran"
Instead you state:
"Obviously the hype around Java has managed to make the language
many programmers, but has not convinced too many of them to actually
use it for parallel
A statement that is simply not supported by the methodology; the
closest we might legitimately come from these results is:
"Of those programmers still using C, C++, or Fortran parallel
programming technologies, very few use Java for their parallel
Which again is hardly earth-shattering news.
The second reason is that that paper fails on a more fundamental
level. It completely fails to define 'parallel programming', or to
provide any background to identify the nature and constituents of
'the community' cited in the introduction. It is this failure of
definition that causes a problem when the paper hand-waves away the
inconvenient response rate from the erlang community. The erlang
responses are not a problem in themselves, rather they highlight the
intrinsic bias shown in the survey sample. A truly representative
survey would have identified a community of users who write parallel
programs, and have targeted them with solicitations
Off the top of my head the following all make extensive use of
Web application developers
Telecom Switch developers :)
Embedded system developers (in my experience mostly C++ using
pthreads or roll-your-own coroutine/user-level-thread libraries)
Research Engineers (especially Mechanical)
Almost none of these were surveyed except those few that both use MPI/
PVM/OpenMP and follow the associated newsgroup/mailing-list.
This is appalling research, I am interested in knowing which journal
accepted this paper so I know which journal I can avoid because any
peer-review that passes this tautological waste of effort is not peer-
reviewed in any meaningful sense of the phrase.
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