next up previous contents
Next: Current status Up: MPI for Java: Position Previous: Contents   Contents

Introduction and background

A basic prerequisite for parallel programming is a good message passing API. Java comes with various ready-made packages for communication, notably an easy-to-use interface to BSD sockets, and the Remote Method Invocation (RMI) mechanism. Interesting as these interfaces are, it is questionable whether parallel programmers will find them especially convenient. Sockets and remote procedure calls have been around for about as long as parallel computing has been fashionable, and neither of them has been popular in that field. Both communication models are optimized for client-server programming, whereas the parallel computing world is mainly concerned with ``symmetric'' communication, occurring in groups of interacting peers.

This symmetric model of communication is captured in the successful Message Passing Interface (MPI) standard, established a few years ago [4]. MPI directly supports the Single Program Multiple Data (SPMD) model of parallel computing, wherein a group of processes cooperate by executing identical program images on local data values. Reliable point-to-point communication is provided through a shared, group-wide communicator, instead of socket pairs. MPI allows numerous blocking, non-blocking, buffered or synchronous communication modes. It also provides a library of true collective operations (broadcast is the most trivial example). An extended standard, MPI-2 [5], allows for dynamic process creation and access to memory in remote processes.

The MPI standard document thus far has provided language-independent specification as well as language-specific (C and Fortran) bindings [4]. While the MPI-2 release of the standard added a C++ binding [5], no Java binding has been offered or is planned by the MPI Forum. With the evident success of Java as a programming language, and its inevitable use in connection with parallel as well as distributed computing, the absence of a well-designed language-specific binding for message-passing with Java will lead to divergent, non-portable practices. Therefore, a standard specification is urgently needed to enable the development of portable Java Grande applications using MPI.


next up previous contents
Next: Current status Up: MPI for Java: Position Previous: Contents   Contents
Bryan Carpenter 2002-07-12