CIS 5930: Fundamentals of High Performance Optimization
This course will cover various areas of computer science whose understanding
is required to tune performance-critical kernels in the real world. It is
a hands-on course; the majority of student effort and grade will be determined
by programming. As such, it
should solidify the application of information gained in previous course work,
in particular, understanding how computer architecture affects program
efficiency on actual machines. It should be particularly useful for students
who plan to work in areas where program efficiency is of key importance,
including high performance computing, visualization/graphics, and compilers.
Topics of interest include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Complexities of getting reliable and context-sensitive timings on actual
hardware in the real world.
- Overviews of several architecture areas critical to optimization,
including memory hierarchy, pipelining, superscalar exploitation, etc.
- Application of traditional optimizations (as used in compilers, but here
performed by hand), on various architectures (primarily x86 and SPARC)
including: software pipelining, superscalar scheduling,
scalar expansion, blocking/tiling, and various array optimizations
(contiguous vs. strided vs. pointer to pointer access, TLB issues, etc).
- Basics of assembly programming (particularly x86) -- necessary to do
extremely low-level optimization, including SSE.
- Exploiting low-level architectural features, including SSE and prefetch.
- If time allows, we will discuss parallelization techniques, in particular
basic SMP programming (via pthreads) and basic message passing (via MPI).
There's a little confusion, as Sudhir Aggarwal is presently shown as
the instructor for this course. To find it on the registration system,
it is CIS5930, Section 12, Course Reference 10675, held in 103LOV on
M W 11AM-12:15PM.
Computer architecture (CDA 5155 or equivalent) and programming at a low level
(ie., programming in a non-OOP and non-garbage collected language such as C,
Fortran or assembly). We will be programming in a unix environment, using
make. Send me e-mail if you lack these prerequisites or feel you are
weak in these areas, but would still like to take the course.
There will be no required textbook. We will make extensive use of online
Since this area of study is very hands-on, I would prefer to get the
overwhelming majority of the grade from programming assignments. Therefore,
so long as students appear to be working independently and are motivated enough
by the projects to learn the requisite material, the breakdown will be:
- 85% programming projects, including final project/presentation
- 10% written/oral quizzes,
- 5% class participation
- No written final
If I feel that students are not fully engaged by the programming projects,
I will put more emphasis on written testing:
For a more complete description, consult the
- 60% programming projects, including final project
- 35% written exams, including final exam
- 5% class participation
Class Hours: Monday and Wednesday, 11AM to 12:15PM.
Location : Room 103, Love Building.
Instructor : Clint Whaley.
Office Hours: TBA.
Students with disabilities:
If you have a physical, psychological, medical or learning disability that
may impact on your ability to carry out assigned course work, I would urge
that you contact the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC),
97 Woodward Avenue South, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4167,
(850) 644-9566 (voice), (850) 644-8504 (TDD) , E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kindly bring a letter to me from the SDRC indicating your need for academic
accommodations within the first week of class. The syllabus and other class
materials can be made available in alternative format upon request.
Remember that the goal of programming or written assignments is to enhance your
programming skills and understanding of the topics under discussion.
Indulging in academic dishonesty defeats this as well as being unfair to other
students. In case you have any questions about whether an act of collaboration
may be construed as academic dishonesty, please clarify the issue with the
instructor before you collaborate. All students are expected to follow the
FSU Academic Honor Code.
Academic dishonesty can result in a grade of 'F'.
- It is understandable that discussing a problem with other people may
lead to more insight into the issues involved. Thus discussing a problem in
assignments/homeworks with other people is fine. However, discussing the
solutions to the problem is NOT acceptable.
- Every student must write his/her own code and homework. Showing your
code or homework to members of other teams, giving it to them, or making it
accessible to them (e.g., by making the files world-readable) is academic
- You are responsible for ensuring that your code/documentation/results
are adequately protected and not accessible to other teams. Change permissions
of your working directory to 0700 ('chmod 0700 <directory>).
- Consulting code from a textbook, or from the Internet, in order to
understand specific aspects of your assignment is fine. However, copying
entire code or large parts of such code will be considered academic dishonesty.
If you borrow small parts of code from these sources, you must acknowledge
this in your submission and additionally you must clearly understand and be
able to explain how the code works.
Why should I be interested in this course?
If you dislike programming, or if your favorite words include "lemma" and
"proof by induction", then you should avoid this class like the plague.
On the other hand, if you entered CS
because you love to code, if you wonder how the machine really
works in practice, and how the computer architecture you have read about
affects actual execution, then this is the course for you.
The programming assignments are designed to help you understand how to achieve
high performance in the real world. You will be able to see the effects of
optimization immediately, and will find that formerly abstract concepts
come into much greater focus (and are a good deal more enjoyable in
implementation) when their application results in noticable speedups on
real-world kernels. This more concrete understanding should allow you
to more fully grasp principles of critical importance in architecture,
compilers, and high performance computing.
Finally, there is quite a bit of fun in just making things run fast. This
is the modern day equivalent of learning how to soup up your family sedan
so that it can run at 350 MPH: only a very few people actually need to
do it, but it sure is neat. If you've ever wanted to sneer at the local
gentoo linux user as "doing the best an uninformed noobie can hope for, I
guess", then this is certainly the class for you.
[Why take this course?]