Parameter Space

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This tutorial will walk you through an investigation of parallel computing using a parameter space example. For instructions on how to compile and run MPI programs, please see Compiling and Running. This tutorial assumes that you have booted up the BCCD and have X running (the blue screen with the blue and black terminals). It uses mpirun, which means you need an implementation of MPI installed; the BCCD comes with both OpenMPI and MPICH, with OpenMPI running by default. For more information, see Running MPICH and Running Open MPI).

Parameter Space Example: Scoring Well in 301


The parameter space model is a study of the dart game “301” In the game of 301, you start at 301 points and work your way down to zero. The board is divided into 20 wedges, with the bull’s-eye in the middle worth 25 points. The ring around the outer edge is a double score, the inner ring is a triple score, and the exact center of the bull’s-eye is a double score. You get three darts per turn, and except for the beginning and end of the game (which require hitting the “double” ring) the goal is to score as high as possible.

The origin of this model began in the dart league at Eammon's in Loudonville, New York. It was a friendly league, with lots of beginners, and lots of free advice for beginners. One piece of advice often given to players was that if you missed a lot, then you should aim at the 1, so that when you miss you will hit either the 20 or the 18. This advice seems suspicious, so we need to make the following assumption before going further: Typical dart throws will have a random direction from some 'aim point' and a normal distance from some 'aim point.'

We set up a Monte Carlo model to test each spot on the board to determine the average score of a three dart throw if we aimed at that point, and we ran it with different accuracy levels, where the accuracy level was defined as the standard deviation of the normal distribution in distance from the “aim point.”

And then we wait. Monte Carlo models work by running random events multiple times and averaging the results. If you want high accuracy, you may have to run the model many times.

The code here is a reproduction of that model, designed to allow the user to visualize the solution as it progresses. It is also designed to break the model up into pieces that can be solved in parallel by different computers.

Running Parameter Space on the BCCD

To run the program, first move into the Param_space directory by entering (on a Terminal) cd ~/Param_space. Next the executable needs to be "made" (compiled) by running make. This will create the executable Param_space.

Next we need to copy this executable to all the nodes that will be running it (If you have not yet set up your nodes for remote access, run bccd-snarfhosts. You must do this before continuing.) An automated BCCD command exists to successfully copy executables across BCCD nodes without compromising other user's runs. It is called 'bccd-syncdir', and is run with the following command:

bccd-syncdir ~/Param_space ~/machines

where ~/Param_space is the directory which holds the executable, and ~/machines is the machinefile created previously with 'bccd-snarfhosts', which contains a list of all the nodes in your cluster. This creates a unique directory in /tmp which holds your executable directory across all nodes. The name of this directory is unique and follows the pattern /tmp/hostname-user (so yours could be /tmp/node009-bccd). Make note of this directory and move into with cd <your directory>.

Now run it using the mpirun command. To run the program on 1 processor with a grid of 100 radial values and 100 angular values, averaging 200 times and displaying the results on the screen as a graph while keeping track of the running time, type the following:

time mpirun -np 1 -machinefile ~/machines ./Param_space     101       101        200
              #cpus                                       #radial+1 #angular+1 #averages

Run the model with 1 processor, and then increase the number of processors (-np). What happens to the running time as you increase the number of processors? Is this what you expected?

(efficiency can be measured in many ways, but typically can be expressed by taking the running time with 1 processor, and dividing it by the running time with P processors *P)

efficiency = time(1)/(time(P)*P)

Increase the size of the model by either using more grid points or averaging more times. What happens to the efficiency?

Does this model allow you to answer the question of where to aim on the board?

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