[Beowulf] Stroustrup regarding multicore

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Wed Sep 3 04:20:16 PDT 2008

On Wed, 3 Sep 2008, Greg Lindahl wrote:

> The funniest posting in this thread was when rgb failed to notce that
> Perry had compared the difficulty of directing physics research to the
> difficulty of writing a program. Some computer programs are hard. Most
> aren't.  So it's a dumb comparison.

I didn't quite fail to notice;-) I just offered to explain my own
research if anybody was interested.  No takers, of course -- which is
good as it would take me a LONG time as the science is nontrivial:-) I
was also getting a bit tired of the thread as this particular thesis
(that scientists make poor computer programmer and/or must hire
programmers in order to do good science using computers) was so absurd
that -- after writing out a longish response and just throwing up my
hands in disgust and deleting it instead of posting -- I tried to gently
bow out.

> I don't know what to make of Vincent saying that I sound like an
> average guy who watches TV. I haven't watched TV much since 1983, but

It just means that Vincent is a narrowly brilliant wacko.  Narrowly
possibly brilliant -- I never know quite what to make of chess or go
masters who never do anything constructive.  Clearly requires some
serious neurons, but isn't there ANYTHING in the world that they can
turn all that grey matter to to the benefit of humankind?

But you know that.

> I have spent a lot of time as an astronomy graduate student doing
> supercomputing, and then working with scientific programmers.
> This isn't meant to encourage anyone to continue discussing any of
> this. I did want to point out how misinformed most of the "discussion"
> was. That's in addition to being pointless.

I still don't think it was originally pointless.  People read the list
and then go write proposals.  Twenty proposals budgeting one grad
student and a computer programmer are twenty proposals that won't get
funded.  So who knows, MAYBE it saved some poor soul's research program.
But probably not -- people aren't that stupid.

> Yeah, I'm probably a bit grouchy because my car's parking lights don't
> turn off anymore after the final dust storm at Burning Man. The
> owner's manual says it can't happen. Must have been written by a
> computer scientist :-)

Or Murphy.

I just like to think of matter as being, y'know, this collection of
spinning clouds of "stuff" that is all really soft, ultimately, and
fails to hold its shape, structure, form, and purpose a whole lot faster
than people realize.  The key cylinder in my son's junker jaguar ('92)
decided yesterday to ignore the jag's bizarre key for the same reason.
I'm sure it will cost me a bunch of money, sigh.


> -- greg
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Robert G. Brown                            Phone(cell): 1-919-280-8443
Duke University Physics Dept, Box 90305
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Web: http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb
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