CS Cabal

Toronto-based reading group that meets weekly to read computer science books and papers.

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November 7, 2016

By Scott

Hello fellow cs enthusiasts!

Don’t worry! Despite the lack of updates, the PFPL readings have been going apace and we are now at Chapter 41 on Distributed Computing.

Next Friday, Nov 11 at 6:30pm at Bento Miso/Gamma Space we will be revisiting chapter 41 on distributed computation and sharing any projects people are working on.

This week saw us explore distributed computation, not to be confused with parallel computation or concurrent computation. This is really the big idea here, it’s that you can have computation in different distributed locations, but they don’t necessarily have to be concurrent. This is really interesting because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this distinction emphasized, usually you see parallel, concurrent, and distributed used almost as synonyms.

As a not concurrent, but distributed computation you could imagine the case of people sitting in a circle and to mediate who is speaking they pass around an object, e.g. whoever holds the wooden spoon can speak and everyone else must sit quiet and listen. If we think of each person as a ‘site’ in the distributed computation, then each site would have a single process waiting for the spoon, and once it receives the spoon it can say it’s bit and then pass along the control spoon; conveniently leaving no time or processing power for listening, but that’s not what was important here anyway.

We still have lots of parts to try and understand, looking forward to discussing it again next week,