pMatlab parallel MATLAB library

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


MATLAB® has emerged as one of the languages most commonly used by scientists and engineers for technical computing, with approximately one million users worldwide. The primary benefits of MATLAB are reduced code development time via high levels of abstractions (e.g. first class multi-dimensional arrays and thousands of built in functions), interpretive, interactive programming, and powerful mathematical graphics. The compute intensive nature of technical computing means that many MATLAB users have codes that can significantly benefit from the increased performance offered by parallel computing. pMatlab provides this capability by implementing parallel global array semantics using standard operator overloading techniques. The core data structure in pMatlab is a distributed numerical array whose distribution onto multiple processors is specified with a "map" construct. Communication operations between distributed arrays are abstracted away from the user and pMatlab transparently supports redistribution between any block-cyclic-overlapped distributions up to four dimensions. pMatlab is built on top of the MatlabMPI communication library and runs on any combination of heterogeneous systems that support MATLAB, which includes Windows, Linux, MacOS X, and SunOS. This paper describes the overall design and architecture of the pMatlab implementation. Performance is validated by implementing the HPC Challenge benchmark suite and comparing pMatlab performance with the equivalent C+MPI codes. These results indicate that pMatlab can often achieve comparable performance to C+MPI, usually at one tenth the code size. Finally, we present implementation data collected from a sample of real pMatlab applications drawn from the approximately one hundred users at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. These data indicate that users are typically able to go from a serial code to an efficient pMatlab code in about 3 hours while changing less than 1% of their code.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-359
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of High Performance Computing Applications
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • HPC challenge
  • Parallel MATLAB
  • Parallel computing
  • Parallel programming models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Hardware and Architecture


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