CSE4333 Parallel systems - Semester 2 , 2007

Unit leader :

David Abramson

Lecturer(s) :


  • David Abramson
  • Sita Ramakrishnan


Welcome to CSE4333 Parallel systems. This 6 point unit comprises two modules - Parallel architectures and Distributed Systems. Each of these two modules caters for half of the lectures, work and assessment of CSE4333.

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.

This unit examines both shared memory and message passing paradigms in both hardware and software; concurrency, multireading and synchronicity; parallel, clustered and distributed supercomputing models and languages.

Unit synopsis

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 and languages. Students will program in these paradigms.

Learning outcomes

At the completion of this unit, students will have:

Knowledge of:
  • A variety of parallel architectures, such as bus-based, massively parallel, cluster, vector.
  • A variety of parallel programming paradigms, synchronization and parallelization primitives, message passing, data parallel, tuple space.    
Understanding of:

  • Concurrency, synchronicity and parallelism.
  • The design issues of parallel systems.
Skills in:

  • Designing, developing and debugging parallel programs using a variety of paradigms.


Workload commitments  for CSE4333 are:
  • two-hour lecture
  • upto 3 hours / week of preparation/personal study including lecture material
  • upto 3 hours / week surveying existing literature in the library, on-line resources etc; hands-on lab exercises
  •  a minumum of 4 hours / week per 2 hour contact time in order to satisfy the reading and assignment expectations

Unit relationships


Before attempting this unit you must have satisfactorily completed:

  • CSE2302 (Operating systems) and CSE2/3324 (Computer architecture) in the old BSE & BCS degree structure,

  • FIT1001,FIT2022 sequence (Comp system I & II) and FIT2014 (Theory of computation) in the new BSE & BCS degree  structure.

In addition you must have completed 24 points of level 3 core or approved or preferred units in CS or SE or equivalent.

Students joining this unit as part of their masters unit need to consult the Masters coordinator to seek approval.

You should have knowledge of types of parallelism within a computer architecture; processes, scheduling, inter-process communication; and experience with multiple programming languages.


CSE4333 is a core unit in the Bachelor of Software Engineering Degree and is an elective unit for BCS and Postgraduate courses in the Faculty of IT.

Continuous improvement

Monash is committed to ‘Excellence in education' and strives for the highest possible quality in teaching and learning. To monitor how successful we are in providing quality teaching and learning Monash regularly seeks feedback from students, employers and staff. Two of the formal ways that you are invited to provide feedback are through Unit Evaluations and through Monquest Teaching Evaluations.

One of the key formal ways students have to provide feedback is through Unit Evaluation Surveys. It is Monash policy for every unit offered to be evaluated each year. Students are strongly encouraged to complete the surveys as they are an important avenue for students to "have their say". The feedback is anonymous and provides the Faculty with evidence of aspects that students are satisfied and areas for improvement.

Student Evaluations

The Faculty of IT administers the Unit Evaluation surveys online through the my.monash portal, although for some smaller classes there may be alternative evaluations conducted in class.

If you wish to view how previous students rated this unit, please go to http://www.monash.edu.au/unit-evaluation-reports/

Over the past few years the Faculty of Information Technology has made a number of improvements to its courses as a result of unit evaluation feedback. Some of these include systematic analysis and planning of unit improvements, and consistent assignment return guidelines.

Monquest Teaching Evaluation surveys may be used by some of your academic staff this semester. They are administered by the Centre for Higher Education Quality (CHEQ) and may be completed in class with a facilitator or on-line through the my.monash portal. The data provided to lecturers is completely anonymous. Monquest surveys provide academic staff with evidence of the effectiveness of their teaching and identify areas for improvement. Individual Monquest reports are confidential, however, you can see the summary results of Monquest evaluations for 2006 at http://www.adm.monash.edu.au/cheq/evaluations/monquest/profiles/index.html

Improvements to this unit

MonQuest evaluation will be conducted for this unit in semester 2 2007 especially as the lecturer for one of the two components which make up this unit has changed in 2007.

Online evaluations will continue to be requested (and encouraged) to be done by as many students as possible as usual.

Unit staff - contact details

Unit leader

Professor David Abramson
Phone +61 3 990 51183 +61 3 990 34105
Fax +61 3 990 55157

Lecturer(s) :

Professor David Abramson
Phone +61 3 990 51183 +61 3 990 34105
Fax +61 3 990 55157
Ms Sita Ramakrishnan
Senior Lecturer
Phone +61 3 990 58689
Fax +61 3 99031777

Additional communication information

Prof David Abramson - Parallel architectures component

Dr Sita Ramakrishnan - Distributed Systems component

Teaching and learning method

CSE4333 provides students with a comprehensive set of study guides and references to facilitate your learning. The lectures will build on these teaching resources rather than reproduce them, and are an opportunity for you to raise questions.

Lectures: You are advised to read through the study guide prior to the lecture, as two hours is far too short to cover all the important concepts. Emphasis in lectures will be given to providing examples of the concepts and discussing some of the questions that these ideas may provoke.

Students are strongly encouraged to attend the lectures and participate in the discussions.

Some of the assignment work in the Distributed systems component will be team based and peer assessed for some aspects.

Timetable information

For information on timetabling for on-campus classes at all Australian campuses please refer to MUTTS, http://mutts.monash.edu.au/MUTTS/

Tuesdays 1-3pm Bldg 25 / S2

Communication, participation and feedback

Monash aims to provide a learning environment in which students receive a range of ongoing feedback throughout their studies. You will receive feedback on your work and progress in this unit. This may take the form of group feedback, individual feedback, peer feedback, self-comparison, verbal and written feedback, discussions (on line and in class) as well as more formal feedback related to assignment marks and grades. You are encouraged to draw on a variety of feedback to enhance your learning.

It is essential that you take action immediately if you realise that you have a problem that is affecting your study. Semesters are short, so we can help you best if you let us know as soon as problems arise. Regardless of whether the problem is related directly to your progress in the unit, if it is likely to interfere with your progress you should discuss it with your lecturer or a Community Service counsellor as soon as possible.

Unit Schedule

Week Topic References/Readings Key dates
1 Delayed start of unit (commences in week 2) - No classes week 1 - tues 17 jul    
2 Parallel Architectures Lectures - Review of instruction level pipelining - Chapters 4 & 7 - week 2 - tues 24 jul Refer to MUSO site for references to Chapters in the Topic column for Parallel architectures  
3 Parallel Architectures Lectures -Review of instruction level pipelining - Chapter 7 - week 3 - tues 31 jul    
4 Introduction to Parallel Architectures - Chapter 10 SIMD Architectures - Chapter 11 Vector Architectures - Chapter 14 VLIW Architectures - Chapter 6 Introduction to MIMD - Chapter 15 - week 4 - 7 aug    
5 Distributed Memory MIMD Architectures - Chapter 17 - week 5 - 14 aug   Parallel Architectures Assignment 1 - 17.00 - 17th aug 2007
6 Shared Memory MIMD Architectures - Chapter 18 - week 6 - 21 aug    
7 Parallel architectures - Last lecture for this component - week 7 - 28 aug   Parallel Architectures Assignment 2 - 17.00 - **Sept 14th 2007**
8 Distributed systems - Introduction to Concurrency & parallelism, Java's model of concurrency with built-in model of monitor, Shared memory synchronisation - week 8 - sep 4    
9 Distributed systems - Shared memory synchronisation (contd), Monitors and deadlocks - week 9 - sep 11    
10 Distributed systems - concurrent program analysis - week 10 - sep 18. NOTE NO MID_SEMESTER BREAK FOR THIS UNIT. Weeks 11-13 classes will follow week folllowing sep 10. Assignment 2 will be due on 18 Oct.   Distributed systems assignment 1 - 17.00 - Thursday sep 20 2007
Mid semester break
11 Distributed systems - Message passing concepts, Principles and Issues in Message passing programming, Synchronous & asynchronous semantics -*** week 11- sep 25 during sem break - Have checked with students if they are willing to have a class in the mid semester break, so they have more time for Ass. 2.***    
12 Distributed systems - Case study - MPI, Java, Linda - week 12 - moves to oct 2 as a lecture is held in mid semester break    
13 Distributed systems - Parallel programming libraries - week 13 - moves to oct 9 as a lecture is held in mid semester break.   Distributed systems assignment 2 - 17.00 - Thursday oct 18 2007

Unit Resources

Prescribed text(s) and readings

Reading material including research papers, programming manuals and system specifications, will be distributed electronically or in hardcopy.

Reference Material:

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.

Text books are available from the Monash University Book Shops. Availability from other suppliers cannot be assured. The Bookshop orders texts in specifically for this unit. You are advised to purchase your text book early.

Recommended text(s) and readings

Reading material including research papers, programming manuals and system specifications, will be distributed electronically or in hardcopy.

Reference Material:

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.

Equipment and consumables required or provided

Students may use the facilities available in the computing labs. Information about computer use for students is available from the ITS Student Resource Guide in the Monash University Handbook. You will need to allocate up to 8 hours per week for use of a computer, including time for newsgroups/discussion groups.

Study resources

Study resources we will provide for your study are:

Study resources we will provide for your study are:

  • Weekly detailed lecture notes outlining the learning objectives, discussion of the content, required readings and  exercises;
  • Weekly exercises - refer to relevant chapters in Andrews & Magee's Text for Distributed Systems's  component ;
  • Assignment specifications;
  • Discussion groups;
  • This Unit Guide outlining the administrative information for the unit;
  • The unit web site on MUSO, where resources outlined above will be made available.

Library access

The Monash University Library site contains details about borrowing rights and catalogue searching. To learn more about the library and the various resources available, please go to http://www.lib.monash.edu.au.  Be sure to obtain a copy of the Library Guide, and if necessary, the instructions for remote access from the library website.

Monash University Studies Online (MUSO)

All unit and lecture materials are available through the MUSO (Monash University Studies Online) site. You can access this site by going to:

  1. a) https://muso.monash.edu.au or
  2. b) via the portal (http://my.monash.edu.au).

Click on the Study and enrolment tab, then the MUSO hyperlink.

In order for your MUSO unit(s) to function correctly, your computer needs to be correctly configured.

For example :

  • MUSO supported browser
  • Supported Java runtime environment

For more information, please visit


You can contact the MUSO Support by: Phone: (+61 3) 9903 1268

For further contact information including operational hours, please visit


Further information can be obtained from the MUSO support site:



Unit assessment policy

The unit is made up of 2 components. Each component is assessed with two assignments. To pass the unit you must:

  • attempt both assignments in each of the 2 components (Parallel architectures & Distributed Systems)
  • achieve no less that 40% of the possible marks in each component
  • achieve no less than 50% of possible marks

Assignment tasks

  • Assignment Task
    Title :
    Parallel architectures - Ass. 1
    Description :

    In this assignment you are asked to research all of the application areas listed in the ass. spec, and

    provide a discussion of how high performance machines are applied to some aspect of each of the problems. You should read sufficient material to give you some understanding of the outcomes for the area, and the underlying computational methods (for example, the numerical methods involved, or the computer science algorithms employed) and how it is solved using a high performance computer.

    Weighting :
    Criteria for assessment :

    Each case study should contain the following sections:

    1. A description of the problem. Things you should address include:

    a. What is the problem?

    b. Why is it important?

    c. What methods are used?

    2. The science or engineering outcomes of the application. Things you should address include:

    a. What did the researchers achieve?

    b. How have the results affected the state of the art or practice in the area?

    c. What is the potential for further research in this area?

    3. How the problem is solved on parallel machines. Things you should address include:

    a. What type of machines that have been used?

    b. How was the problem mapped to the machine(s)?

    The best source of material is likely to be conference and journal proceedings, and the Web.

    Please be very careful about citing appropriate reference material and be careful not to simply cut and paste from electronic sources. You are encouraged to use diagrams where appropriate.

    see assign spec for more details.
    Due date :
    17th aug 2007 5 pm
  • Assignment Task
    Title :
    Parallel architectures - Ass. 2
    Description :

    In this report you are to research multi-core architectures and discuss the design choices and alternatives available in the current commercial products. Specifically, you should:

    1. Present the architecture of the Intel, AMD and Sun devices

    2. Compare and contrast their approach to multi-core

    3. Clearly describe the cache and memory structure on these machines

    4. Comment on the limitations of current products and how these will be addressed

    Weighting :
    Criteria for assessment :

    Your report should not exceed 3000 words (excluding references) and should be prepared using the IEEE Computer Society Press format, which are available at


    You are welcome to use any source materials, how these must be carefully cited. Further, assignments will be scanned to make sure that you have not copied text without attribution.

    You are to submit your assignment electronically in PDF format (or RTF if you cannot generate PDF) via the MUSO web site. You MUST include the following text in your document.

    I, ......, declare that this submission is my own work and has not been copied from any other source without attribution. I acknowledge that severe penalties exist for any copying of material without attribution, including a mark of 0 for this assessment.

    Due date :
    14th sep 2007 5pm
  • Assignment Task
    Title :
    Distributed Systems - Programming Ass.1
    Description :

    Develop an FSP model and Java implementation for demonstrating concurrent programming mechanisms that use shared variables. Assignment spec on MUSO site for the unit.

    Weighting :
    Criteria for assessment :
    Demonstrate through your submission,

    thetheoritical understanding and practical skills in modelling, analysisand realization of mutli-process algorithms with shared memorysynchronisation.

    Due date :
    Thursday Sep 20th 2007 5pm
  • Assignment Task
    Title :
    Distributed Systems - Programming Ass.2
    Description :
    Write parallel programs using message passing. Assignment spec on MUSO site for the unit.
    Weighting :
    Criteria for assessment :
    Demonstrate through your submission, the theoritical understanding and practical skills in distributed programming in which processes communicate and synchronise by means of messages.
    Due date :
    Thursday Oct 18th 2007 5 pm


Assignment submission

Assignments will be submitted by electronic submission to the CSE4333 unit site on MUSO  On-campus Students submit the assignment to the MUSO as per the given due dates above, with the appropriate cover sheet correctly filled out. The due date is the date by which the submission must be received/the date by which the the submission is to be posted.

Assignment coversheets

Electronic cover sheets are provided in MUSO

University and Faculty policy on assessment

Due dates and extensions

The due dates for the submission of assignments are given in the previous section. Please make every effort to submit work by the due dates. It is your responsibility to structure your study program around assignment deadlines, family, work and other commitments. Factors such as normal work pressures, vacations, etc. are seldom regarded as appropriate reasons for granting extensions. Students are advised to NOT assume that granting of an extension is a matter of course.

Procedures and policies on applying for extensions for assignment work:

Requests for extensions must be made to the unit lecturer at your campus at least two days before the due date. You will be asked to forward original medical certificates in cases of illness, and may be asked to provide other forms of documentation where necessary. A copy of the email or other written communication of an extension must be attached to the assignment submission.

Late assignment

Assignments received after the due date will be subject to a penalty for late submission as described in the MUSO site for cse4333 assignments.

Return dates

Students can expect assignments to be returned within two weeks of the submission date or after receipt, whichever is later.

Assessment for the unit as a whole is in accordance with the provisions of the Monash University Education Policy at http://www.policy.monash.edu/policy-bank/academic/education/assessment/

We will aim to have assignment results made available to you within two weeks after assignment receipt.

Please note that as CSE4333 is composed of 2 components, we suggest that you please check the relevant part of the MUSO site for any specific changes to the above requirement.

Plagiarism, cheating and collusion

Plagiarism and cheating are regarded as very serious offences. In cases where cheating  has been confirmed, students have been severely penalised, from losing all marks for an assignment, to facing disciplinary action at the Faculty level. While we would wish that all our students adhere to sound ethical conduct and honesty, I will ask you to acquaint yourself with Student Rights and Responsibilities (http://www.infotech.monash.edu.au/about/committees-groups/facboard/policies/studrights.html) and the Faculty regulations that apply to students detected cheating as these will be applied in all detected cases.

In this University, cheating means seeking to obtain an unfair advantage in any examination or any other written or practical work to be submitted or completed by a student for assessment. It includes the use, or attempted use, of any means to gain an unfair advantage for any assessable work in the unit, where the means is contrary to the instructions for such work. 

When you submit an individual assessment item, such as a program, a report, an essay, assignment or other piece of work, under your name you are understood to be stating that this is your own work. If a submission is identical with, or similar to, someone else's work, an assumption of cheating may arise. If you are planning on working with another student, it is acceptable to undertake research together, and discuss problems, but it is not acceptable to jointly develop or share solutions unless this is specified by your lecturer. 

Intentionally providing students with your solutions to assignments is classified as "assisting to cheat" and students who do this may be subject to disciplinary action. You should take reasonable care that your solution is not accidentally or deliberately obtained by other students. For example, do not leave copies of your work in progress on the hard drives of shared computers, and do not show your work to other students. If you believe this may have happened, please be sure to contact your lecturer as soon as possible.

Cheating also includes taking into an examination any material contrary to the regulations, including any bilingual dictionary, whether or not with the intention of using it to obtain an advantage.

Plagiarism involves the false representation of another person's ideas, or findings, as your own by either copying material or paraphrasing without citing sources. It is both professional and ethical to reference clearly the ideas and information that you have used from another writer. If the source is not identified, then you have plagiarised work of the other author. Plagiarism is a form of dishonesty that is insulting to the reader and grossly unfair to your student colleagues.

Register of counselling about plagiarism

The university requires faculties to keep a simple and confidential register to record counselling to students about plagiarism (e.g. warnings). The register is accessible to Associate Deans Teaching (or nominees) and, where requested, students concerned have access to their own details in the register. The register is to serve as a record of counselling about the nature of plagiarism, not as a record of allegations; and no provision of appeals in relation to the register is necessary or applicable.

Non-discriminatory language

The Faculty of Information Technology is committed to the use of non-discriminatory language in all forms of communication. Discriminatory language is that which refers in abusive terms to gender, race, age, sexual orientation, citizenship or nationality, ethnic or language background, physical or mental ability, or political or religious views, or which stereotypes groups in an adverse manner. This is not meant to preclude or inhibit legitimate academic debate on any issue; however, the language used in such debate should be non-discriminatory and sensitive to these matters. It is important to avoid the use of discriminatory language in your communications and written work. The most common form of discriminatory language in academic work tends to be in the area of gender inclusiveness. You are, therefore, requested to check for this and to ensure your work and communications are non-discriminatory in all respects.

Students with disabilities

Students with disabilities that may disadvantage them in assessment should seek advice from one of the following before completing assessment tasks and examinations:

Deferred assessment and special consideration

Deferred assessment (not to be confused with an extension for submission of an assignment) may be granted in cases of extenuating personal circumstances such as serious personal illness or bereavement. Special consideration in the awarding of grades is also possible in some circumstances. Information and forms for Special Consideration and deferred assessment applications are available at http://www.monash.edu.au/exams/special-consideration.html. Contact the Faculty's Student Services staff at your campus for further information and advice.