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9.8.3 The Concurrent Algorithm


The timing results from Figure 9.20 clearly dictate the manner in which the calculations in Munkres algorithm should be distributed among the nodes of a hypercube for concurrent execution. The zero and minimum element searches for Steps 3 and 5 are the most time consuming and should be done concurrently. In contrast, the essentially bookkeeping tasks associated with Steps 2 and 4 require insignificant CPU time and are most naturally done in lockstep (i.e., all nodes of the hypercube perform the same calculations on the same data at the same time). The details of the concurrent algorithm are as follows.

Data Decomposition

The distance matrix is distributed across the nodes of the hypercube, with entire columns assigned to individual nodes. (This assumes, effectively, that , which is always the case for assignment problems which are big enough to be ``interesting.'') The cover and zero locator lists defined in Section 9.8.2 are duplicated on all nodes.

Task Decomposition

The concurrent implementation of Step 5 is particularly trivial. Each node first finds its own minimum uncovered value, setting this value to some ``infinite'' token if all columns assigned to the node are covered. A simple loop on communication channels determines the global minimum among the node-by-node minimum values, and each node then modifies the contents of its local portion of the distance matrix according to Steps 5.2 and 5.3.

The concurrent implementation of Step 3 is just slightly more awkward. On entry to Step 3, each node searches for zeros according to the rules of Section 9.8.2, and fills a three-element status list:

where S is a zero-search status flag,


If the status is nonnegative, the last two entries in the status list specify the location of the found zero. A simple channel loop is used to collect the individual status lists of each node into all nodes, and the action taken next by the program is as follows:

It is worth emphasizing that only the actual searches for zero and minimum entries in Steps 3 and 5 are done concurrently. The updates of the cover and zero locator lists are done in unison.

The concurrent algorithm has been implemented on the Mark III hypercube, and has been tested against random point association tasks for a variety of list sizes. Before examining results of these tests, however, it is worth noting that the concurrent implementation is not particularly dependent on the hypercube topology. The only communication-dependent parts of the algorithm are

  1. Determination of the ensemble-wide minimum value for Step 5;
  2. Collection of the local Step 3 status lists (Equation 9.24),
either of which could be easily done for almost any MIMD architecture.

Table 9.7 presents performance results for the association of random lists of 200 points on the Mark III hypercube for various cube dimensions. (For consistency, of course, the same input lists are used for all runs.) Time values are given in CPU seconds for the total execution time, as well as the time spent in Steps 3 and 5. Also given are the standard concurrent execution efficiencies,


as well as the number of times the Step 3 box of Figure 9.19 is entered during execution of the algorithm. The numbers of entries into the other boxes of Figure 9.19 are independent of the hypercube dimension.

Table 9.7: Concurrent Performance for Random Points. T is time, efficiency, and N[Step 3] the number of times Step 3 is executed.

There is an aspect of the timing results in Table 9.7 which should be noted. Namely, essentially all inefficiencies of the concurrent algorithm are associated with Step 3 for two nodes compared to Step 3 for one node. The times spent in Step 5 are approximately halved for each increase in the dimension of the hypercube. However, the efficiencies associated with the zero searching in Step 3 are rather poorer, particularly for larger numbers of nodes.

At a simple, qualitative level, the inefficiencies associated with Step 3 are readily understood. Consider the task of finding a single zero located somewhere inside an matrix. The mean sequential search time is


since, on average, half of the entries of the matrix will be examined before the zero is found. Now consider the same zero search on two nodes. The node which has the half of the matrix containing the zero will find it in about half the time of Equation 9.26. However, the other node will always search through all of its items before returning a null status for Equation 9.24. Since the node which found the zero must wait for the other node before the (lockstep) modifications of zero locators and cover tags, the node without the zero determines the actual time spent in Step 3, so that


In the full program, the concurrent bottleneck is not as bad as Equation 9.27 would imply. As noted above, the concurrent algorithm can process multiple ``Boring'' Zs in a single pass through Step 3. The frequency of such multiple Zs per step can be estimated by noting the decreasing number of times Step 3 is entered with increasing hypercube dimension, as indicated in Table 9.7. Moreover, each node maintains a counter of the last column searched during Step 3. On subsequent re-entries, columns prior to this marked column are searched for zeros only if they have had their cover tag changed during the prior Step 3 processing. While each of these algorithm elements does diminish the problems associated with Equation 9.27, the fact remains that the search for zero entries in the distributed distance matrix is the least efficient step in concurrent implementations of Munkres algorithm.

The results presented in Table 9.7 demonstrate that an efficient implementation of Munkres algorithm is certainly feasible. Next, we examine how these efficiencies change as the problem size is varied.

The results shown in Tables 9.8 and 9.9 demonstrate an improvement of concurrent efficiencies with increasing problem size-the expected result. For the problem on eight nodes, the efficiency is only about 50%. This problem is too small for eight nodes, with only 12 or 13 columns of the distance matrix assigned to individual nodes.

Table 9.8: Concurrent Performance for Random Points

Table 9.9: Concurrent Performance for Random Points

While the performance results in Tables 9.7 through 9.9 are certainly acceptable, it is nonetheless interesting to investigate possible improvements of efficiency for the zero searches in Step 3. The obvious candidate for an algorithm modification is some sort of checkpointing: At intermediate times during the zero search, the nodes exchange a ``Zero Found Yet?'' status flag, with all nodes breaking out of the zero search loop if any node returns a positive result.

For message-passing machines such as the Mark III, the checkpointing scheme is of little value, as the time spent in individual entries to Step 3 is not enormous compared to the node-to-node communication time. For example, for the two-node solution of the problem, the mean time for a single entry to Step 3 is only about , compared to a typical node-to-node communications time which can be a significant fraction of a millisecond. The time required to perform a single Step 3 calculation is not large compared to node-to-node communications. As a (not unexpected) consequence, all attempts to improve the Step 3 efficiencies through various ``Found Anything?'' schemes were completely unsuccessful.

The checkpointing difficulties for a message-passing machine could disappear, of course, on a shared-memory machine. If the zero-search status flags for the various nodes could be kept in memory locations readily (i.e., rapidly) accessible to all nodes, the problems of the preceding paragraph might be eliminated. It would be interesting to determine whether significant improvements on the (already good) efficiencies of the concurrent Munkres algorithm could be achieved on a shared-memory machine.

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Next: Optimization Methods for Up: 9.8 Munkres Algorithm for Previous: 9.8.2 The Sequential Algorithm

Guy Robinson
Wed Mar 1 10:19:35 EST 1995