Parallel Programming: Threads

A thread is a unit (or sequence of code) that can be executed by a scheduler, essentially a task (Sanden, 2011). A single thread (task) will have one program counter and a sequence of code. Multi-threading occurs when one program counter shares a common code. Thus, the counter in multi-threading has many sequences of code that can be assigned to different processors to run in parallel (simultaneously) to speed up a task. Another way for multi-threading is to have the counter execute the same code on different processors with different inputs. If data is shared between the threads, there is a need for a “safe” object through synchronization, where one thread can access the data stored in a “safe” object at one time. It is through these “safe” objects that a thread can communicate with another thread.

An additional example that may help illustrate the material: 

Maybe we would like to know the average of the sum of all the credits and the average of the sum of all the debits made in personal checking accounts in December in Suntrust Bank. After Map-Reduce techniques using multiple threading, we can go through their entire database system to find accounts and timestamp transactions, map out all the data and reduce it to what we need to return the two numbers in our query. 


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