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The Computer Science Theory Laboratory (LITH) has been involved for more than twenty years in the field of parallel processing. Research has been first concentrated on parallelization of combinatorial optimization and problem solving algorithms, such as a/b, SSS* or Branch and Bound. It led to four Ph.D. theses and to numerous publications. Several approaches have been studied for an implementation of such algorithms on MIMD-DM computers: master-slave, distributed controllers, with synchronization phases and asynchronous mode. For this purpose, research was conducted both in the development of parallel programming languages and in the analysis of combinatorial and heuristic algorithms.

The ground for a coordinating effort was laid with a postgarduate course on parallelism, run by Prof. Giovanni Coray and Dr Marc Gengler in 1989, for two years, where EPFL bought our experimental (hyper)cube: an iPSC2 with 8 processors ! This program was an encouraging opportunity to have visitors of international notoriety as well as student exchange.

Creation of the GRIP (Parallel Computing Research Group)
At the beginning of 1995, the Computer Science Department created a group of interest in the field of parallel computing. "GRIP", the name given to this group stands for: "Groupe de Recherche en Informatique Parallèle". Due to its long standing involvement in parallel computing, the LITH was naturally chosen as the host laboratory inside the Computer Science Department for the GRIP. Members of other existing projects in the field of parallel computing also joined the GRIP in order to set up a competence centre at the Computer Science Department. Namely, the PARCEL project (in collaboration with two French Universities), as well as the ADD, PAC and SCOOP project, initiated by Dr Marc Gengler, became part of the GRIP. The group was originally created and managed by Dr. T. Cornu and Dr. P. Kuonen. At the beginning of 1997, T. Cornu joined the French private company Simulog. Since then the GRIP has been managed by Dr. P. Kuonen.

The main goal of the GRIP was to promote new research and applied projects in the field of parallel computing. It thus actively contributed to the CAPA (Centre for Advanced and parallel Applications, created in 1996) organisation on the EPFL-level. To achieve this goal the GRIP activities were threefold:

  • First of all the GRIP initiated new projects hereby encouraging the collaboration between different laboratories, schools or with industrial partners. Thanks to the activity of the GRIP members, new fundings have rapidly been found to launch new projects; the most notable are:

    • the STORMS project (a project of the 4th European ACTS program, on the optimization of resources in mobile communication systems)

    • the PERFO project (an FNRS project on performance modeling of multiprocessor architectures, in collaboration with the Micro-computing Laboratory of the Computer Science Department)

    • the LEOPARD project (an FNRS project on the parallelization of genetic algorithms and combinatorial optimization algorithm, in collaboration with the Operations Research Laboratory of the Mathematics Department of EPFL)

    • the EuroTOPS-RiskPro project (Financial Market Simulation on Massively Parallel Computers, funded by the CTI and part of the European Eureka-EuroTOPS project. Implies the collaboration of the GRIP with the Swiss private company LinkVest)

    • the PARCEL-2 project (A synchronous cellular parallel language and its computing model, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation )

    • the SwissTx project (The swiss teraflop supercomputer, funded by CTI in collaboration with CAPA:Center for Parallel and Advanced Applications, at EPFL) - see web site and the final report of the SwissTx project.

    • the ADOOC project (Asynchronous Distributed Object Oriented Computing, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation in the framework of the european association ERCIM)

  • Secondly, the GRIP has organized seminars to stimulate research activities, in the field of parallel computing, inside french-speaking Switzerland and its neighboring regions. Large seminars have been organized two or three times a year. In addition, brainstorming seminars have been organized more frequently on specific technical topics, depending on the needs of GRIP members. Members of the GRIP were active in teaching the postgraduates course organised by CAPA on numerical computing and by the department of mathematics on "ingénierie mathématique".

  • Finally the GRIP has provided competence and acted as a consulting centre for researchers at EPFL (or elsewhere) having difficulties with parallel programming. As such, it was the natural interlocutor at the Computer Science Department for launching larger initiatives, such as the CAPA organization and the Swiss-Tx project, at the level of the EPFL and beyond.
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In 1990/91, setting up a two year postgraduate program in the field of parallel computing. Since 1993, graduate course on parallel computing in the CS curriculum.
On February 1996, the GRIP organized a 5-days course on Advanced Parallel Computing, in the framework of the COSMASE course cycle. This course was taught by internationally known lecturers like Prof. J. J. Dongarra from the University of Tennessee/ORNL and Prof. P. Kropf from Laval University in Quebec and lecturers from the Swiss Super-computing Centre in Manno. This course was very successful and contributed to strengthening the links of EPFL with these other academic organizations.
In 1998 and 99, (within CAPA) teaching at the postgraduate cours "Ingéniérie mathématique" organized by EPFL in collaboration with Ecole Polytechnique de Paris.
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Since its creation, the GRIP has been organizing periodical seminars on parallel computation, addressed participants from French Switzerland and its neighboring regions.

  • February 3rd, 1995 at EPFL: "Quel parallélisme pour quelle application?" with speakers from LINKVEST SA, Universities of Fribourg and Geneva, as well as from the CEA in Limeil (France) and from the PATP Centre of EPFL.

  • July 13th, 1995 at University of Neuchatel: "Outils pour la programmation parallèle" with the participation of Prof. Ron Perrott from University of Belfast and speakers from the Manno Supercomputing Center, as well as from the universities of Besançon and Neuchatel.

  • March 7th, 1996 at EPFL: "Quelques applications du calcul parallèle en électromagnétisme" with speakers from several departments of EPFL and ETHZ. LIP ******* (GC)

  • September 18th and 19th, 1997 at EPFL: "TelePar’97: Parallelism & Telecommunication", hosted by the GRIP, and organized jointly by the SPEEDUP and SIPAR societies.

  • In the framework of CAPA organization of the "Workshop SOS" (Sandia, Oak Ridge, Switzerland), 22-24.3.1999, Villars, Switzerland.
As a result, a software license agreement with Wavecall S.A., PSE, Ecublens, has recently been signed based on previous research and development done at LITH (software for mobile telephony).

Moreover a spin-off companiy is presently benefiting from LITH's participation in earlier projects on parallelism: Clustersolutions S.A., Corporate headquaters in Lausanne (high performance parallel computing, commodity component network computers), is an outgrow of the CTI project SwissTx.
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