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Blue Waters project to offer online course on many-core computing

The Blue Waters project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will offer an online graduate-level course on Algorithmic Techniques for Scalable Many-core Computing in fall 2014 and is seeking university partners who are interested in offering the course for credit to their students.

The course includes online video lectures, quizzes, and homework assignments with access to free accounts on the Blue Waters petascale supercomputer. Partner institutions will need to provide a local instructor that will be responsible for advising the local students and officially assigning grades. Students will complete the online course exams and exercises as part of their grade.

The instructor for the course is Dr. Wen-Mei Hwu, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois. The course website is

Prerequisites for the course include

  • Experience working in a Unix environment
  • Experience developing and running scientific codes written in C or C++
  • Basic knowledge of CUDA (a short online course, Introduction to CUDA, is available to registered students who need assistance in meeting this prerequisite)
  • Although not required, knowledge from the course Applied Parallel Programming is highly recommended. Students who have not taken that course are encouraged to listen to the lectures (available at the course website) and read the textbook before taking this course.

The expectations for students, faculty, and the instruction team are noted below. Interested faculty should contact Steve Gordon at or 614-292-4132.

Expectations for Participants

The expectations of the “collaborating faculty” are that they will:

  • Establish a “collaborating course” (possibly a special topics course) on the spring course catalog
  • Promote this course to students on their own campus
  • View the recorded lectures with their local enrolled students
  • Provide office hours to advise the students on the course content
  • Proctor the course exam
  • Provide regular feedback on behalf of the students to Dr. Hwu throughout the semester

The expectations for Dr. Hwu and the O2PEP team are that they will:

  • Provide an initial live web-cast to introduce the instructor, TAs, support staff, and introduce remote participants and faculty to one another
  • Provide two recorded lectures per week
  • Provide exercises and activities for the students
  • Provide a web space for all course related materials
  • Provide regular quizzes to allow the students to assess their own progress
  • Provide a mid-term exam and a final exam
  • Grade all the quizzes and exams
  • Provide TAs to assist all students with questions about the course content, exercises, quizzes, and other materials covered during the semester
  • Conduct an evaluation of the course with the participants and collaborating faculty

The expectations for the students are that they will:

  • register in a “collaborating course” on their own campus
  • provide their own laptop or desktop systems
  • view the recorded lectures as a group with their local “collaborating faculty” to learn/discuss the content as a group
  • contact the TAs at the University of Illinois for in-depth questions about the content, exercises, or other materials
  • submit quizzes for self-assessment purposes
  • submit a mid-term and a final exam for determining a grade, with a scale applied according to their own campus grading methods

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