PDC 2009, Day Minus One

This year’s PDC promises to be an exciting one with VS 2010 in Beta2 and lots of other technologies either just shipped or about to ship. I’m in Los Angeles to speak about Axum, as part of a new thing we’re doing this year: talking about topics that are somewhat longer-lead than the usual stuff.

I’m really looking forward to being able to talk more in-depth about it and get lots of feedback from everybody listening in. My presentation is on Thursday morning.

Tomorrow, Monday, is the pre-conference workshops and setting up the booths on the main show floor. The Parallel Computing team has two booths this year, one in the HPC area and one in the Visual Studio area, so it should be really easy to find us.

I’ve been thinking about discrete event simulation a bunch lately; I’ve been fascinated by that particular use for software since way back in college when I used SIMULA and were exposed to object-oriented programming for the first time.

While discrete time is basically a very simple concept, parallelizing discrete event systems is non-trivial, since the introduction of asynchrony leads to all kinds of races between things operating in discrete time and things operating in real time. It seems to me that it should be fairly straight-forward to do it with an actor-based framework, but I have yet to prove that to myself.

The auction sample I posted earlier this year parallelized nicely, but was in many ways a cheat: it used wall clock time throughout the code, not discrete time. That meant that the course of the simulation is impacted by the runtime resources available, with simulation objects competing for processing power and thus being subject to non-determinism. Not being able to repeat simulations is an extremely bad thing.

Anyway, the next few days promise to be exciting, and I’ll keep posting each day of the conference.