University of Tokyo, Sun Collaborate on Research

The University of Tokyo and Sun Microsystems announced two joint research projects that will focus on high-performance computing and Web-based programming languages. These research projects will be the first international collaboration that comes out of the Proprius21 initiative advocated by U-Tokyo for producing visible results from research collaborations with private enterprises.

One research project will explore development of a library based on skeletal parallel programming in Fortress. A group at U-Tokyo's Graduate School of Information Science and Technology will collaborate with a team at Sun Labs to develop a library based on skeletal parallel programming in Fortress (a programming language designed by Sun for high-performance computing). The collaborative research is expected to significantly enhance the convenience of parallel programming.

Skeletal parallelism is a programming method that uses pre-defined components (skeletons) extracted from general-purpose parallel processing constructs to make parallelization process simpler and more scalable, while shielding programmers from the complexity of parallelism such as task communication and synchronization. In addition, the use of constructive algorithmic is being studied to understand the structure of programs to facilitate program generation and improve the efficiency through program transformation.

Fortress is a new scientific programming language with highly productive programming constructs. Once the theoretical and implementation issues of the programming language are clearly defined, development of a library will be attempted.

The collaborative research is scheduled to continue until the end of March 2009. For the first year, Sun will contribute funding to the research which will be conducted at Sun Labs and at the University of Tokyo. The University will hire a postdoctoral researcher to conduct the research.

Another research project will implement a multiple virtual machine (MVM) environment on Ruby and JRuby. The MVM environment is expected to make Ruby programs run more efficiently than was previously possible. The results of the research are scheduled to be open sourced via the broader community of Ruby developers.

Previously, running more than one application simultaneously on Ruby required multiple interpreters, leading to excessive memory consumption. The proposed MVM environment could generate multiple VM instances on a single interpreter, allowing applications to run more efficiently. The collaborative research aims to clarify such technical issues as the definition of common interfaces for using MVM, parallelization of VM instances and memory sharing, and then to implement technologies that can be used on Ruby and JRuby. The collaborative research is scheduled to continue until the end of September 2009.

U-Tokyo has been advocating Proprius21--a scheme designed to produce visible results from research collaborations with private enterprises--which has proven successful with many private enterprises in Japan. The joint research agreement with Sun was the first instance where the Proprius21 scheme was applied to a foreign enterprise, and the two initial projects represent the first overseas research collaboration.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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