The transition from serial to parallel computing in which many operations are performed simultaneously and at tremendous speed, marks a new era in computation. These original essays explore the emerging modalities and potential impact of this technological revolution. Daniel Hillis, inventor of the superfast Connection Machine®, provides a clear explanation of massively parallel computing. The essays that follow investigate the rich possibilities, as well as the constraints, that parallel computation holds for the future. These possibilities include its tremendous potential for simulating currently intractable physical processes and for solving "monster" scientific problems (involving new algorithms and ways of thinking about problem solving that will change the way we think about the world), and its use in the neural sciences (where the biological model for parallel computation is the brain). Essays also address the gap between the promise of this new technology and our current educational system and look at America's technological agenda for the 1990s. Daniel Hillis is Chief Scientist and James Bailey is Director of Marketing, both at Thinking Machines Corporation.
Selected Essays: Preface, Stephen R. Graubard. What is Massively Parallel Computing, and Why Is It Important? W. Daniel Hillis. Complex Adaptive Systems, John H. Holland. Perspectives on Parallel Computing, Yuefan Deng, James Glimm, David H. Sharp. Parallel Billiards and Monster Systems, Brosl Hasslacher. First We Reshape Our Computers, Then Our Computers Reshape Us: The Broader Intellectual Impact of Parallelism, James Bailey. Parallelism in Conscious Experience. Robert Sokolowski. Of Time, Intelligence, and Institutions, Felix E. Browder. Parallel Computing and Education, Geoffrey C. Fox. The Age of Computing: A Personal Memoir, N. Metropolis. What Should the Public Know about Mathematics? Philip J. Davis. America's Economic-Technological Agenda for the 1990s, Jacob T. Schwartz.A Daedalus special issue