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Monash University

FIT3143 Parallel computing - Semester 1, 2012

Modern computer systems contain parallelism in both hardware and software. This unit covers parallelism in both general purpose and application specific computer architectures and the programming paradigms that allow parallelism to be exploited in software. The unit examines both shared memory and message passing paradigms in both hardware and software; concurrency, multithreading and synchronicity; parallel, clustered and distributed supercomputing models, languages and software tools and development environments. Students will program in these paradigms.

Mode of Delivery

Clayton (Day)

Contact Hours

2 hrs lectures/wk, 2 hr laboratory/wk, 1 hr tutorial/wk


This unit is offered to on-campus students.  Workload commitments per week are:

  • 2 hour lecture
  • 2 hour lab
  • 1 hour tutorial
  • minimum of 7 hours of personal study in order to satisfy the reading and assignment expectations.

Unit Relationships


FIT4001, CSE4333



Chief Examiner

Campus Lecturer


Carlo Kopp

Consultation hours: By appointment

Academic Overview


At the completion of this unit students will have -

A knowledge and understanding of:
  • a variety of parallel architectures, such as bus-based, massively parallel, cluster, vector, GPU;
  • a variety of parallel programming paradigms, synchronisation and parallelisation primitives, message passing, data parallel, tuple space;
concurrency, synchronicity and parallelism;
  • software development environments and tools (including performance tools);
  • the design issues of parallel systems.

An appreciation of:
  • the needs of parallel applications.

Developed skills in:
  • designing, developing and debugging parallel programs using a variety of paradigms;
  • measuring the performance of parallel applications and tuning implementation.

Graduate Attributes

Monash prepares its graduates to be:
  1. responsible and effective global citizens who:
    1. engage in an internationalised world
    2. exhibit cross-cultural competence
    3. demonstrate ethical values
  2. critical and creative scholars who:
    1. produce innovative solutions to problems
    2. apply research skills to a range of challenges
    3. communicate perceptively and effectively

Assessment Summary

Examination: 50%; In-semester assessment: 50%

Assessment Task Value Due Date
Assignment 1 15% Friday 30 March 2012, 4PM
Assignment 2 25% In-lab assessments week 11 and 12, Theory due Friday 25 May 2012, 4PM
Lab work assessments 10% Weekly submissions
Examination 1 50% To be advised

Teaching Approach

Lecture and tutorials or problem classes
This teaching and learning approach provides facilitated learning, practical exploration and peer learning.


Our feedback to You

Types of feedback you can expect to receive in this unit are:
  • Informal feedback on progress in labs/tutes
  • Graded assignments with comments
  • Other: Solutions to tutes and labs

Your feedback to Us

Monash is committed to excellence in education and regularly seeks feedback from students, employers and staff. One of the key formal ways students have to provide feedback is through SETU, Student Evaluation of Teacher and Unit. The University's student evaluation policy requires that every unit is evaluated each year. Students are strongly encouraged to complete the surveys. The feedback is anonymous and provides the Faculty with evidence of aspects that students are satisfied and areas for improvement.

For more information on Monash's educational strategy, and on student evaluations, see:

Previous Student Evaluations of this unit

Previous student feedback shows that most students, typically 50 percent or more, rated this unit very highly. There are no significant changes planned based on feedback results.

If you wish to view how previous students rated this unit, please go to

Required Resources

Please check with your lecturer before purchasing any Required Resources. Prescribed texts are available for you to borrow in the library, and prescribed software is available in student labs.

The standard operating environment provided in FIT computer labs is considered adequate for most purposes. However, most of the tutorial exercises require the use of an open source Linux environment, which is provided in the assigned FIT computer laboratory.

Software may be:

  • downloaded from the resources page on the unit web site
  • or purchased at academic price at good software retailers

Recommended Resources

Portable personal computer and access to a broadband Internet connection.

Unit Schedule

Week Activities Assessment
0 Unit Introduction on Moodle No formal assessment or activities are undertaken in week 0
1 Unit Introduction; Distributed Systems Lecture (no lab or tute)  
2 Inter Process Communications; Remote Procedure Calls Weekly lab work assessments begin in week 2
3 Message Passing Library  
4 Synchronisation, MUTEX, Deadlocks  
5 Election Algorithms, Distributed Transactions, Concurrency Control Assignment 1 due Friday March 30, 4PM
6 Faults, Distributed Consensus, Security, Parallel Computing  
7 Parallel Computing Alternatives  
8 Instruction Level Parallelism  
9 Vector Architecture  
10 Data Parallel Architectures, SIMD Architectures  
11 Introduction to MIMD, Distributed Memory MIMD Architectures Assignment 2 in-lab assessments
12 Super Scalar Processing, Exam Revision Assignment 2 in-lab assessments. Assignment 2 (theory) due Friday 25 May, 4PM
  SWOT VAC No formal assessment is undertaken in SWOT VAC
  Examination period LINK to Assessment Policy: http://policy.monash.edu.au/policy-bank/

*Unit Schedule details will be maintained and communicated to you via your MUSO (Blackboard or Moodle) learning system.

Assessment Requirements

Assessment Policy

Faculty Policy - Unit Assessment Hurdles (http://www.infotech.monash.edu.au/resources/staff/edgov/policies/assessment-examinations/unit-assessment-hurdles.html)

Assessment Tasks


  • Assessment task 1
    Assignment 1
    Individual assignment. A 2000-word research paper on topics selected from the weekly lectures.
    Criteria for assessment:

    The work will be assessed on the basis of the quality of the write-up (e.g. easy to read, logical and systematic presentation of concepts, formatting, figures, tables), relevance and accuracy of information, and literature search.

    Due date:
    Friday 30 March 2012, 4PM
  • Assessment task 2
    Assignment 2
    Individual assignment. The work will comprise two parallel distributed programming tasks and a 1500-word write-up. The programming tasks will be assessed in the lab class, with each student demonstrating the written programs to the tutor in week 11 and week 12. The write-up will be submitted at the end of week 12.
    Criteria for assessment:

    Detailed marking guide will be provided with the assessment. As a general guide to assessing the programming tasks:

    1. All programs must compile and run correctly.
    2. Programs must meet the problem specification.
    3. Source code should be readable and maintainable.
    4. The underlying algorithms are clearly explained.
    5. Programs should be documented.
    Due date:
    In-lab assessments week 11 and 12, Theory due Friday 25 May 2012, 4PM
  • Assessment task 3
    Lab work assessments
    Students will complete the weekly lab and tutorial exercises in groups of 4-5 and submit their group work on weekly basis.
    Criteria for assessment:

    The assessment will be based on the demonstration of work during the lab and evidence of learning in the weekly submissions.

    The tutor will monitor individual contributions to the group when allocating marks to members of the group

    Due date:
    Weekly submissions


  • Examination 1
    3 hours
    Type (open/closed book):
    Closed book
    Electronic devices allowed in the exam:

Assignment submission

It is a University requirement (http://www.policy.monash.edu/policy-bank/academic/education/conduct/plagiarism-procedures.html) for students to submit an assignment coversheet for each assessment item. Faculty Assignment coversheets can be found at http://www.infotech.monash.edu.au/resources/student/forms/. Please check with your Lecturer on the submission method for your assignment coversheet (e.g. attach a file to the online assignment submission, hand-in a hard copy, or use an online quiz).

Online submission

If Electronic Submission has been approved for your unit, please submit your work via the VLE site for this unit, which you can access via links in the my.monash portal.

Extensions and penalties

Returning assignments

Resubmission of assignments

Resubmission of assignments, lab, and tutorial work will not be allowed.

Referencing requirements

Refer to the unit website.

Other Information


Student services

The University provides many different kinds of support services for you. Contact your tutor if you need advice and see the range of services available at www.monash.edu.au/students. For Sunway see http://www.monash.edu.my/Student-services, and for South Africa see http://www.monash.ac.za/current/

The Monash University Library provides a range of services and resources that enable you to save time and be more effective in your learning and research. Go to http://www.lib.monash.edu.au or the library tab in my.monash portal for more information. At Sunway, visit the Library and Learning Commons at http://www.lib.monash.edu.my/. At South Africa visit http://www.lib.monash.ac.za/.

Academic support services may be available for students who have a disability or medical condition. Registration with the Disability Liaison Unit is required. Further information is available as follows:

  • Website: http://monash.edu/equity-diversity/disability/index.html;
  • Email: dlu@monash.edu
  • Drop In: Equity and Diversity Centre, Level 1 Gallery Building (Building 55), Monash University, Clayton Campus, or Student Community Services Department, Level 2, Building 2, Monash University, Sunway Campus
  • Telephone: 03 9905 5704, or contact the Student Advisor, Student Commuity Services at 03 55146018 at Sunway

Reading list

Reference Material

For Part 1: Parallel Computing Schemes and Software:

G.R. Andrews: Foundations of Multithreaded, Parallel and Distributed Programming, Addison-Wesley, 2000.

J. Magee and J. Kramer: Concurrency:  State models & Java Programming; John-Wiley & Sons, 2006.

I.T. Foster: Designing and Building Parallel Programs, Addison-Wesley, 1995.

M. Maekawa, A.E. Oldehoeft, R.R. Oldehoeft: Operating Systems Advanced Concepts, Benjamin/Cummings, 1987.

For Part 2: Parallel Distributed Computing Architectures:

Advanced Computer Architectures: A Design Space Approach, Sima, Fountain and Kacsuk , Addison Wesley Publishers.

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