Danny Dig
Danny Dig integrates lectures and labs in his courses on parallel programming for professionals.

Danny Dig, assistant professor of computer science at Oregon State University and Andrew Black, professor of computer science at Portland State University, are hosting a workshop in Portland, Oregon on October 17-19 for software professionals to learn the foundations of multicore programming in Java and JavaScript.

Dig’s research focus for the last 8 years has been on techniques for transforming sequential code into parallel code. He is acutely aware of the need for software developers to learn these techniques now that all new devices from smartphones to desktops use parallel processors. In response, he has organized workshops at Boeing and the Illinois-Intel Parallelism Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to help professional programmers improve the performance of their applications by using parallelism in software.

Dig will instruct the class along with other software experts including Tim Matsson from Intel Corporation who is co-author of the influential book, “Patterns for Parallel Programming,” and Doug Lea, professor at State University of New York at Oswego and the lead architect of Java concurrency libraries.

“I teach it as a unique blend of lectures and labs that are deeply integrated. It’s not theoretical, it’s very hands-on,” Dig said. After 30 minutes of lecture, students work on planned exercises on their own laptops with help from teaching assistants.

Dig said that the very pragmatic approach has been well received by past participants. For example, a Boeing engineer commented: “Excellent course:  relevant, well done, timely.  Well worth the time and effort.  I would recommend this course to all our developers.”

Dig has also made changes to the course over the years based on comments from participants. Previous courses included additional programming languages like C++, but he said covering just Java and JavaScript has allowed him to go more in-depth into the main topics of parallelism.

This is the first time he will offer the class in a compressed format over a weekend instead of a full week, to make it easier for software developers to attend without missing work. The shortened course cannot cover all the same content, so he will offer additional resources for the material not covered, and there is a possibility he would offer a follow-up course based on interest.

Dig is excited to be hosting the class in Portland, a hub of software development, so he can start building relationships with local software practitioners.

“A constant dialogue with practitioners keeps my research centered and very focused on current software development problems,” he said.

But these classes fulfill another need for him as well.

“Fundamentally, I’m a teacher and I love seeing the lights go on — it’s my mission in life to help people develop their full potential,” Dig said.

Visit the Multicore Parallel Programming Summer School website for more details.