Encyclopedia of Operations Research and Management Science

2001 Edition
| Editors: Saul I. Gass, Carl M. Harris

Parallel computing

  • Jonathan Eckstein
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-0611-X_728

To the applications-oriented user, parallel computing is the use of a computer system that contains multiple, replicated arithmetic-logical units (ALUs), programmable to cooperate concurrently on a single task. This definition does not include other kinds of concurrency not typically visible to the applications programmer, such as the overlapping of floating point and integer operations, or launching of multiple concurrent instructions on “superscalar” microprocessor chips.

Parallel computing exists because, despite quick and steady advances in computing technology, there always exist problems that a single processor cannot solve in an acceptable amount of time. Thus, parallel computing is necessarily high performance computing, and computational efficiency tends to be a prime concern in developing parallel applications.


The taxonomy of Flynn (1972) classifies parallel computers as either “SIMD” or “MIMD.” In a SIMD (Single Instruction, Multiple Data)...

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Eckstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Rutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA