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Joel C. Adams

Editor and Contributor
CSinParallel Leadership Team
Professor of Computer Science, Calvin University

Tell us a little bit about yourself
My job title is Professor of Computer Science at Calvin University, where I have been teaching parallel and distributed computing since the late 1990s. I've published numerous papers on this topic, and have been the architect of seven different Beowulf clusters. I've also been fortunate to be named an ACM Distinguished Educator and a Fulbright Scholar twice (Mauritius 1998-99; Iceland 2005).

Why do you think it's an exciting time for students to learn about parallel computing?
This is an especially exciting time for students to learn about parallel computing for two reasons: a "high" level reason and a "low" level reason. From the "high" level: As the problems we want to solve and their data sets get bigger and bigger, traditional sequential computing can take too long (e.g., hours or days), but parallel computing often lets us solve those problems in a tiny fraction of that time, and seeing that speedup occur is exciting. From the "low" level: Nearly any computer you buy today has multiple cores, making it a parallel computer. A traditional sequential program will only use one of those cores at a time; to simultaneously use all of them requires parallel programming. Learning about parallel computing thus allows you to write programs that fully utilize the hardware capabilities of modern computers.