Techniques for Transparent Parallelization of Discrete Event Simulation Models

Alessandro Pellegrini



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Abstract:
Simulation is a powerful technique to represent the evolution of real-world phenomena or systems over time. It has been extensively used in different research fields (from medicine to biology, to economy, and to disaster rescue) to study the behaviour of complex systems during their evolution (symbiotic simulation) or before their actual realization (what-if analysis). A traditional way to achieve high performance simulations is the employment of Parallel Discrete Event Simulation (PDES) techniques, which are based on the partitioning of the simulation model into Logical Processes (LPs) that can execute events in parallel on different CPUs and/or different CPU cores, and rely on synchronization mechanisms to achieve causally consistent execution of simulation events. As it is well recognized, the optimistic synchronization approach, namely the Time Warp protocol, which is based on rollback for recovering possible timestamporder violations due to the absence of block-until-safe policies for event processing, is likely to favour speedup in general application/architectural contexts.

However, the optimistic PDES paradigm implicitly relies on a programming model that shifts from traditional sequential-style programming, given that there is no notion of global address space (fully accessible while processing events at any LP). Furthermore, there is the underlying assumption that the code associated with event handlers cannot execute unrecoverable operations given their speculative processing nature. Nevertheless, even though no unrecoverable action is ever executed by event handlers, a means to actually undo the action if requested needs to be devised and implemented within the software stack.

On the other hand, sequential-style programming is an easy paradigm for the development of simulation code, given that it does not require the programmer to reason about memory partitioning (and therefore message passing) and speculative (concurrent) processing of the application. In this thesis, we present methodological and technical innovations which will show how it is possible, by developing innovative runtime mechanisms, to allow a programmer to implement his simulation model in a fully sequential way, and have the underlying simulation framework to execute it in parallel according to speculative processing techniques. Some of the approaches we provide show applicability in either shared- or distributed-memory systems, while others will be specifically tailored to multi/many-core architectures.

We will clearly show, during the development of these supports, what is the effect on performance of these solutions, which will nevertheless be negligible, allowing a fruitful exploitation of the available computing power. In the end, we will highlight which are the clear benefits on the programming model that the model developer will experience by relying on these innovative solutions.

BibTeX Entry:

@phdthesis{tPell14,
author = {Pellegrini, Alessandro},
school = {Sapienza, University of Rome},
title = {Techniques for Transparent Parallelization of Discrete Event Simulation Models},
year = {2014},
type = {phdthesis},
comment = {Supervisor: F. Quaglia}
}