, 6:479 | Cite as

Large parallel machines can be extremely slow for small problems

  • Vince Grolmusz


We consider concurrent-write PRAMs with a large number of processors of unlimited computational power and an infinite shared memory. Our adversary chooses a small number of our processors and gives them a 0–1 input sequence (each chosen processor gets a bit, and each bit is given to one processor). The chosen processors are required to compute thePARITY of their input, while the others do not take part in the computation. Ifat most q processors are chosen andq ≤1/2 log logn, then we show that computing PARITY needsq steps in the worst case. On the other hand, there exists an algorithm which computes PARITY inq steps (for anyq <n) in this model, thus our result is sharp. Surprisingly, if our adversary choosesexactly q of our processors, then they can compute PARITY in [q/2] + 2 steps, and in this case we show that it needs at least [q2] steps. Our result implies that large parallel machines which are efficient when only a small number of their processors are active cannot be constructed. On the other hand, a result of Ajtai and Ben-Or [1] shows that if we haven input bits which contain at most polylogn 1's and polynomially many processors which are all allowed to work, then thePARITY can be solved inconstant time.

Key words

Parallel computation Lower bounds Fault tolerant computation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vince Grolmusz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceEötvös UniversityBudapestHungary

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