[TIP] Everybody wants a pony!

C. Titus Brown ctb at msu.edu
Thu Apr 2 04:38:27 PDT 2009

On Wed, Apr 01, 2009 at 10:57:53AM -0600, m h wrote:
-> Titus, why do scientists care about these platforms?  With cheap
-> commodity hardware it seems most people would scale google style.
-> Aren't x86 going to be cheaper/faster?  I guess if you are talking
-> about some super optimized fortran compiler, yeah you care, but this
-> is python we are talking about.

Errm, it is every computational scientist's dream to be able to convert
their problem into a map-reduce (or, "pleasantly parallel", or,
"embarrassingly parallel") style problem.  Alas, reality has not, so
far, obliged.  So some scientists spend a lot of time struggling with
such problems on specialized hardware.

I'm sure the next question will be "like what problems?" so I'll try to
oblige ;)

I'm not so up on computational physics, but it's hard to invert a large
matrix on a small computer, no matter how many of them you have.

Genome assembly is tricky to do without a reasonable amount of
preprocessing that looks at the entire data set.

Protein folding is not, generally, pleasantly parallel.

Basically anything that has to look at a non-decomposable data set is
not map-reducable without significant work.  There is probably some
theoretical framework that will tell you what kinds of problems fit and
don't fit; I'm not an expert so I'll leave off there.

C. Titus Brown, ctb at msu.edu

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