[Beowulf] Teaching Scientific Computation (looking for theperfect text)

Nathan Moore ntmoore at gmail.com
Tue Nov 20 16:21:12 EST 2007


Page 269 - see page 269.

Nice!

On Nov 20, 2007 2:42 PM, Michael Will <mwill at penguincomputing.com> wrote:

>  Yeah K+R is fun. Look up 'recursion' in the index...
>
> Sent from my GoodLink synchronized handheld (www.good.com)
>
>
>  -----Original Message-----
> From:   Nathan Moore [mailto:ntmoore at gmail.com <ntmoore at gmail.com>]
> Sent:   Tuesday, November 20, 2007 12:41 PM Pacific Standard Time
> To:     Peter St. John; beowulf at beowulf.org
> Subject:        Re: [Beowulf] Teaching Scientific Computation (looking for
> theperfect text)
>
> Thanks for the message Peter.  I agree with you about the lucidity of K&R,
> although I think the Landau-Lifshitz series of texts eclipses it in
> overall
> greatness.
>
> Regarding demographics, I'm thinking mainly about the device
> driver/embedded
> systems/EE track, in which a fortran interface seems to be unheard of.
> The
> only field I know of in which Fortran is common and vital is numerical
> weather modeling.  Maybe others on the list can disabuse me of this
> notion.
>
> Also, the truck full of gravel analogy is great, thanks!
>
> On Nov 20, 2007 1:30 PM, Peter St. John <peter.st.john at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Nathan,
> > I'm sure you'll get lots of very experienced responses but if I may:
> > 1. Book. K&RC is the best book ever, on any subject.
> > 2. Demographics. It looked to me that engineers were typically
> > learning and using C (C++, C with Classes, sometimes Java) more than
> > Fortran. I would have expected similar among physicists, but I
> > understand that a lot of Fortan is still extant and vital. Also there
> > is some convergence, ultimately it won't matter much.
> > 3. Pedagogy. When computational efficiency is important, the
> > distinctions bettween sending data, and sending references to data, is
> > real important. I think it can be made vivid, early; what's the
> > difference between my handing you a card with the shipping address of
> > the warehouse that has the gravel you need for your construction
> > business, and handing you one thousand wheelbarrows full of gravel?
> > Either way can be right in the circumstances, but the difference is
> > obviously very relevant and should be taught even if you use a
> > language that hides the distinctions.
> > 4. You might let them choose, but that might make more sense with
> > graduate students, than undergrads, and you may not like grading
> > papers in multiple languages. So you might ask about departmental
> > guidelines, what languages they will be exprected to learn anyway. I'd
> > advocate presenting some of the shorter but fundamental algorithms in
> > two languages, if you have time, but time is scarce and it's a physics
> > course, not a programming course.
> > 5. Choose C because there is no real choice, but I don't have time to
> > explain that in the margin of my email :-)
> > Peter
> >
> >
> > On Nov 20, 2007 1:33 PM, Nathan Moore <ntmoore at gmail.com> wrote:
> > > I regularly teach a college course in a physics department that deals
> > with
> > > scientific computation.  After students take the course, I expect that
> > > they'll be able to write simple "c-tran" style programs for data
> > analysis,
> > > write basic MD or MC simulations, and be fairly fluent in Mathematica.
> > >
> > > In the past, I figured that with the breadth of topics included in the
> > > course, Fortran, specifically the basic, simple, and reliable F77
> > dialect
> > > (w/ some F90 conveniences) was the language to teach.  In my own head,
> > my
> > > rationale was:
> > > - Most students can grasp the basics of fortran in half a day's
> reading,
> > so
> > > I can spend more class time on science and math (probably because
> there
> > are
> > > no pointers - I think that C is much harder for students and sometimes
> > > "seems" less like mathematical syntax than f77)
> > > - "Classical Fortran" is a great text and is readable for self-study
> (I
> > know
> > > of no such text for C/C++)
> > > - several free compilers exist (g95 seems ok so far)
> > > - Netlib, lapack, and numerical recipes cover the math library
> > adequately
> > > - F77 is compiled (Perl/python are too slow for an MD/MC sim and I
> > figure
> > > that students should know at least on compiled language and one
> > scripting
> > > language to be competent)
> > > - MPI is a relatively basic addition to the language (again, no
> > pointers,
> > > allocation, or addressing)
> > >
> > > After reflection though, I've started to wonder about the wisdom of my
> > > choice.  Specifically (like RGB), I love the GSL library, and
> extending
> > GSL
> > > to fortran in an intro class is non-trivial.  Additionally, most
> vendors
> > > supply "fast" hardware libraries in C (I may be ignorant, but if a
> > student
> > > wants to call an AMD ACML fast-math function(
> > > http://developer.amd.com/acml.jsp), or write a linear algebra function
> > to
> > > run on a graphics card(http://developer.nvidia.com/object/cuda.html ),
> > the
> > > vendors seem to assume that you'll write the code in C).
> > >
> > > Also, and more relevant, I assume that most employers word-associate
> > > "Fortran is to backwards as C is to competence".
> > >
> > > So, I'm thinking about reworking the class to favor C, and fearing 3
> > weeks
> > > of pointer and addressing hell.  For those of you who teach scientific
> > > computation (and also those of you who hire undergrads), I'd be
> grateful
> > for
> > > your thoughts.  One specific question I have is what text covers
> > scientific
> > > programming and touches on MPI using the C language.
> > >
> > > regards,
> > >
> > > Nathan Moore
> > >
> > >
> > > --
> > > - - - - - - -   - - - - - - -   - - - - - - -
> > > Nathan Moore
> > > Assistant Professor, Physics
> > > Winona State University
> > > AIM: nmoorewsu
> > > - - - - - - -   - - - - - - -   - - - - - - -
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > Beowulf mailing list, Beowulf at beowulf.org
> > > To change your subscription (digest mode or unsubscribe) visit
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> > >
> > >
> >
>
>
>
> --
> - - - - - - -   - - - - - - -   - - - - - - -
> Nathan Moore
> Assistant Professor, Physics
> Winona State University
> AIM: nmoorewsu
> - - - - - - -   - - - - - - -   - - - - - - -
>



-- 
- - - - - - -   - - - - - - -   - - - - - - -
Nathan Moore
Assistant Professor, Physics
Winona State University
AIM: nmoorewsu
- - - - - - -   - - - - - - -   - - - - - - -


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