Using OBJECTSIM in a Final Year Parallel Computing Course

Dr Arnold Pears
Concurrency Research Group
La Trobe University, Australia


This seminar describes experiences with using a state of the art Discrete Event Simulation kernel (OBJECTSIM) to provide hands on parallel computing experience. Students use OBJECTSIM to perform tasks ranging from the development and execution of petri-nets to simulations which collect performance data for simple parallel architectures and networks. In this context OBJECTSIM is an invaluable means through which to provide practical insights into important areas of the parallel computing curriculum.

OBJECTSIM is a highly flexible and generic simulation system. It adapts the Actor model developed by Agha, to provide a highly generic approach to simulation. A simulation consists of a number of objects whose behaviour is defined by their context, a state machine and external stimuli.

Each OBJECTSIM entity uses entry and exit ports to interface with the external world, but has no concept of any other objects in the system. Simulation objects are quickly and easily specified in C++ through their derivation from a simple object hierarchy.

Simulation libraries have been developed for the components of a dedicated image processing architecture, the high level logical components of an experimental routing chip, and simple petri-nets and a two way unbuffered crossbar, that can be used to build simple multi-stage interconnection network models.

This seminar provides an overview of OBJECTSIM and its graphical user interface. Existing libraries of objects provide a convenient way for students to build and observe the behaviour of simple petri-net models and interconnection networks. Students can also develop new libraries to simulate new types of architectures or networks, thus gaining practical insights into the tradeoffs inherent in designing parallel computers and networks.

About the Speaker

Dr. Arnold Pears is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. He is the Director of the Concurency Research Group at La Trobe.

His interests include simulation methodologies and techniques, and curriculum design and teaching in computer science. He has a particular interest in innovative curriculum design and developing practical experiential learning environments for teaching both sequential and parallel programming.

Dr Pears has published widely in the areas of simulating parallel computer architectures, parallel architecture design and evaluation, and simulation kernels and object oriented simulation methodology. He is a member of the ACM, IEEE, and SCS.

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