Electronic Newsletter Covers Latest in Parallel Software Technology Developments

A monthly electronic newsletter called PT Digest is now being published for the parallel software community as part of the National High Performance Software Exchange (NHSE)-sponsored Parallel Tools Library (PTLib).

A joint project of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, PTLib is a new software repository for parallel programming tools. Organized by PT Digest Editor James Kohl, PTLib provides information about the tools that are available to assist in parallel software development, and acts as a clearinghouse for distributing these tools to the programmers.

Ultimately, PTLib will provide support for a variety of communication libraries, compilers, performance tools, and debuggers, with the initial focus emphasizing performance tools for parallel software. The software tool catalog in PTLib currently contains more than 130 entries. In addition to the tools themselves, PTLib will offer on-line services, including tool discussion forums, documentation and tutorials, tool testing facilities with evaluation results, and packaged binary distributions.

Within the scope of the NHSE software evaluation work, PTLib also provides an evaluation service for parallel software systems and tools. Using the levels of evaluation set forth by NHSE, software packages are characterized as being either "checked" for certain basic criteria, such as completeness or documentation, or "reviewed" by an expert for correctness and usability. More details of these procedures can be found at http://www.nhse.org/submit/review.html. The PTLib software catalog currently contains several dozen checked and reviewed parallel software packages.

PT Digest allows users to stay up-to-date on the latest releases, developments, and breakthroughs in parallel software technology. The newsletter is a forum for sharing ideas and announcements about parallel tools, with the goal of bringing the parallel software community closer together. Parallel programmers can use the digest to help find the right tool for the job, or to be made aware of new tools as they become available. In addition, tool developers in industry, government, or academic research can obtain feedback to evaluate the effectiveness of their tools and explore the real needs of tool users. PT Digest is also a convenient source for information on upcoming meetings or conferences.

"It is hoped that tool users and tool developers alike will use the PT Digest as a sounding board to explore the challenges in developing good parallel software. Too often, neither developers nor users take the opportunity to share their differing views," says Kohl. "The result is that tools can be frustrating to use or can fail to meet the user's needs. Moreover, tool developers are sometimes perplexed, not understanding why their tools go unused." Kohl believes that by using PT Digest as a discussion forum, communication gaps can be bridged and controversial issues exposed. "There are certainly some innovative ideas that could be presented for discussion by the community as a whole to help direct the course of future work in this area," he says.

PT Digest is presented in the spirit of the successful NA Digest for Numerical Analysis, edited by Cleve Moler, which now boasts more than 6500 subscribers. While PT Digest is relatively new, there were more than 140 subscribers for the first few issues and membership continues to grow. The digest is delivered to each subscriber via email each month.

To subscribe to PT Digest, please send an email message to:

with any Subject line and the following 3 lines (in any order) in the message body:

Article submissions should be sent via email to:

Problems will be addressed by sending an email to:

For more information, see http://www.nhse.org/ptlib/.

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