What does my calendar have to do with parallelism?

I have been trying for ages to get together with Steve Maine for lunch. Since I changed groups, it’s almost impossible and since I left building 42, I don’t see him in the corridor for a short chat. Both our schedules are just crazy. His comment today, after we had identified a spot in our calendars for lunch a whole month away, he commented that “Man, you know things are bad when you have to schedule a month out”. Indeed, so very true!!! :-(

This reminded me something that Geoffrey Fox mentioned the other day. We invited him here in Microsoft to give a series of four lectures on the history of Parallel Computing. It was a lot of fun. I even got to go out for dinner with him, Tony Hey, and Burton Smith last night. Listening to all of them talk about the history of parallel/scientific computing and their role in it is a great experience. So many stories, so much experience!

Anyway, Geoffrey used nature and organizations like Microsoft as examples of inherently parallel systems, which is very true if you think about it. Different parts of an organization work in parallel to achieve a common goal. What Geoffrey doesn’t know, however, is the amount of synchronization overheads we have to incur within our organization. I thought that if people in Microsoft are seen as the parallel threads in a system, then the daily meetings in our calendars have to be the barriers; and there are lots of them. We need to find a way to reduce our synchronization points within Microsoft. :-)