March 6 – 11 , 2005, Dagstuhl Seminar 05101

Scheduling for Parallel Architectures: Theory, Applications, Challenges


Erik Altman (IBM TJ Watson Research Center, US)
James Dehnert (Palo Alto, US)
Christoph W. Kessler (Linköping University, SE)
Jens Knoop (TU Wien, AT)

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Scheduling, the task of mapping computation units to time slots on computing resources for execution, is important for the effective use of resources in all kinds of parallel systems, ranging from the level of more coarse­grain tasks in multiprocessors, clusters and computational grids, via medium­grain tasks at the loop level, down to instruction­level parallelism (ILP)

Scheduling issues are of crucial importance in very diverse areas ranging from operating systems and realtime systems to network management to static and dynamic program optimization and code generation. Likewise, they evolve on very different levels of granularity, from coarse grain task and job scheduling over loop scheduling to fine­grain instruction scheduling. Though highly interrelated, these fields are tackled by usually independently working communities. However, emerging processor architectures such as chip multiprocessors will demand effective hybrid scheduling strategies that unify previously separate scopes of scheduling.

In practice, scheduling problems often do not appear in isolation but come with a domain-specific context that---explicitly or implicitly---introduces interdependencies with other optimization problems. For instance, when compiling for parallel execution platforms, decisions made in scheduling depend on and influence other aspects of the problem of generating efficient parallel code, such as resource allocation, clustering, or program transformations, such that scheduling can rarely be considered as an isolated problem. Such interdependences, even though perhaps most apparent for instruction­level parallelism, appear at all levels of parallelism and are solved by various techniques, including heuristics, integer programming, dynamic programming, or genetic programming. Integrated approaches are generally more flexible but suffer from an increased problem complexity.

Interestingly, the research communities for task-level, loop-level and instruction-level scheduling appear to be quite separated from each other. Furthermore, there appears to be a gap between the theoretical foundations of scheduling, formulated in terms of abstract machine models, and the algorithms developed in both academia and industry for concrete scheduling problems in compilers and run-time systems for parallel computer architectures. This gap is exacerbated by requirements that practical schedulers deal with the complexities of irregular architectures.

The purpose of this seminar was therefore to gather leading experts from these scheduling communities, to identify common approaches, techniques, frameworks and tools, and to stimulate cross­fertilization between the various scheduling communities. Moreover, we intended to bridge the gap between scheduling theory and methods currently applied in compilers and run­time systems for parallel architectures. A third goal was to encourage a constructive dialog between scheduling algorithm designers and developers of parallel architectures, specifically in the embedded systems domain.

31 researchers accepted the invitation to the seminar and met 6--11 March 2005 at Schloss Dagstuhl, Germany. The seminar participants represented a broad spectrum of research on scheduling, including instruction scheduling, job scheduling, task scheduling, loop scheduling, parallel computer architecture, and scheduling theory.

With the invitation and the opening address, we provided the following guiding questions:

  • How can we bridge the gap between scheduling theory and practice?
  • Can the practical ILP scheduling problems broaden the theory models?
  • In particular, do recent micro­architectural trends such as clustered architectures add fundamentally different factors to the problem?
  • Is there current theory that can lead to interesting practical algorithms?
  • What are the interference effects between task­level, loop­level and instructionlevel scheduling?
  • Can existing scheduling approaches be transferred to other problem domains, granularities, or architecture models?
  • What are the phase­ordering effects, and the techniques, potential, and limitations of integrating scheduling with other transformations or code generation phases?
  • Can we define generic scheduling approaches for flexible optimization goals (execution time, stack/register space, energy consumption)?

A central goal of this seminar was thus to bring together leading experts of the various communities to foster discussions on the usability and usefulness of approaches developed for specific areas and the impact they may have to others. By means of cross­fertilization and synergy the seminar should contribute to both a better understanding of the key issues of scheduling and to further advancing the state-of-the-art in the various fields. The specific atmosphere of Dagstuhl Seminars, which can be characterized by openness, accessibility and cooperation, and which is supported by Schloss Dagstuhl's architecture, its services and facilities, encourages both formal and informal meetings and discussions and therefore provided a perfect environment to achieve these goals.


In the series Dagstuhl Reports each Dagstuhl Seminar and Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop is documented. The seminar organizers, in cooperation with the collector, prepare a report that includes contributions from the participants' talks together with a summary of the seminar.


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Dagstuhl's Impact

Please inform us when a publication was published as a result from your seminar. These publications are listed in the category Dagstuhl's Impact and are presented on a special shelf on the ground floor of the library.


Furthermore, a comprehensive peer-reviewed collection of research papers can be published in the series Dagstuhl Follow-Ups.