book review performance threading

Book Review: The Art of Concurrency

One of the books I picked up recently is The Art of Concurrency A Thread Monkey’s Guide to Writing Parallel Applications by Clay Breshears. The book itself is an interesting read, and Breshears is a funny writer, I especially liked the quote: “No evil threads, just threads programmed for evil”. He also had some interesting examples, one especially vivid example of how code can interact was to think of two hands as threads, each finger as a line of code and how many different arrangements those fingers can be intertwined when clasping your hands together.

Breshears mentions threading as the future of applications, with multicore becoming more and more popular, and concurrent programming eventually becoming the norm for everything wanting to take advantage of all these additional processors.

The book talks about approaching concurency and threading with eight simple rules:
1. Identify Truly Independent Computations.
2. Implement Concurrency at the Highest Level Possible.
3. Plan Early for Scalability to Take Advantage of Increasing Numbers of Cores.

4. Make Use of Thread Safe Libraries Whenever Possible
5. Use the Right Threading Model.
6. Never Assume a Paricular Order of Execution.

7. Use Thread Local Storage whenever possible or associate locsk to specifi data.

8. Date to change the algorithm for a better chance of concurrency.

There are also some talk of various threading libraries, OpenMP (implicit threading) , Intel Threading Building Blocks as well as explicit threading: such as pthreads and Windows Threads.

The book also shows some threading examples of sorting, searching, graphs, as well as some information on the Intel’s VTune Performance Analyzer which sounds pretty useful in finding those hotspots that would be potential candidates for parallel computing.

Lots of interesting stuff, and the book covers quite a bit of different areas. I especially liked the eight rules and found the overarching view of the different areas of threading interesting.

Best of luck managing your threads,
Michael Hubbard

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