# Basic Block Data Decomposition in Perl

I was playing around with the idea of parallelizing something the other day to eke out some performance. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten a bit rusty since writing some MPI code for a parallel computing course a few years back. I got stuck on what should be the simple part of dividing up my input across the threads.

<!--more-->The goal is to divvy things up into continguous blocks of roughly equal size. i.e., if the size of your input is 38 (

n) and you start four threads (p) you don’t want to give the first three threads chunks of 12 and the last thread gets 2. You want slices of 10, 9, 10 and 9.

So I flailed away with loops and the POSIX::floor for little awhile and came pretty close to what I remembered. I had to finally drag out my textbook (and translate from the C Macros) to get it right.

```#!/usr/bin/perl

# Block Data Decomposition:
# Divide array n into p contiguous blocks of roughly equal size

use POSIX qw(floor);
use strict;

sub block_start {
my (\$i, \$p, \$n) = @_;
return floor((\$i * \$n) / \$p);
}

sub block_end {
my (\$i, \$p, \$n) = @_;
return (block_start(\$i + 1, \$p, \$n) - 1);
}

my @input = get_input();
my \$n = scalar @input;
my \$p = 4;

for my \$i (0..\$p-1)
{
my \$start = block_start(\$i, \$p, \$n);
my \$end = block_end(\$i, \$p, \$n);
my @range = @input[\$start..\$end];
do_something(\@range);
}```

The idea is that

do_something(\@range)

sends a slice of input off for processing by one of your threads. A pretty useful algorithm when doing this sort of thing. Certainly not rocket science. Which is why we should all be happy I’m not a rocket scientist.

Written on March 3, 2009