Chapel Springs into a Summer of Code

As spring arrives, a number of noteworthy events are taking place around the Chapel™ parallel language project at Cray. Here is a quick rundown of four recent highlights.

Spring Chapel release

The spring 2016 release of Chapel was made available on April 7. Some highlights of the release include:

  • Major improvements to Chapel strings and string-based computations
  • Substantial performance gains due to support for a new jemalloc-based memory allocator along with other optimizations and implementation improvements
  • Initial support for running Chapel programs on Intel’s next-generation Intel® Xeon Phi™ processors, code named Knights Landing (KNL)
  • Significant improvements to the content and organization of Chapel’s online documentation
  • New language features for module namespace management
  • Library enhancements, including module support for reflection, linear algebra and libhdfs3

Notably, this release was composed of more than 900 logical commits to the code base by nearly two dozen developers. For a more complete rundown of the release’s highlights and contents, refer to its CHANGES file. Or download a copy today and give it a try firsthand!

Chapel’s Google Summer of Code

We’re proud to announce that the Chapel project was selected as a Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2016 mentor organization. This program is designed to introduce students to open-source software development by partnering them with mentors on public projects like Chapel. Selected students work on three-month projects of interest during their summer break.

The program starts with a proposal period, during which students survey the mentor organizations in order to understand their technologies and put a proposal together. During this period, a number of prospective students became very active in the Chapel community, asking questions, writing sample computations, blogging about Chapel and contributing bug reports and fixes (several of which went into the spring release). Some students also began laying groundwork for their prospective projects. Notably, a few developed web-based environments for compiling and running Chapel programs, while another wrote a tic-tac-toe game in Chapel with a GUI and an AI to play against.

By the time of the GSoC application deadline, we’d received 46 project proposals from students around the world. Developers on the Chapel team are currently reviewing this competitive pool of applicants to determine who to mentor and work with this summer. We’ll report back on these students’ experiences later in the summer.

CHIUW 2016 program announced

On May 27-28, we’re hosting CHIUW 2016 — the third annual Chapel Implementers and Users Workshop — in Chicago as part of the IEEE IPDPS 2016 conference. Like last year’s CHIUW, the first day will follow a mini-conference format, featuring talks from the Chapel community highlighting their work; the second day features a Chapel code camp in which users and developers can work together on coding and design problems. This year’s CHIUW is notable in that it’s the first time we’ve solicited research papers from the community, where past years have been talk-based only.

A highlight of CHIUW 2016 will be a keynote by Professor Nikhil Padmanabhan of Yale University, who will describe his interest and experiences in applying Chapel to his research in observational cosmology. The program committee received six research paper submissions and accepted four, which will be published in the IEEE IPDPS workshop proceedings. CHIUW will also feature 10 short talks submitted by members of the community. The papers and talks span a wide variety of Chapel-related topics including application studies, data analytics in Chapel, performance evaluation and improvements, tools and resilience. In all, CHIUW’s speakers represent more than a dozen institutions, providing a view of work being done in Chapel across the broad community. For further details about talks and speakers at CHIUW, refer to its online program. We hope to see you there!

Chapel Twitter feed

We’ve recently expanded Chapel’s presence on social media by complementing its Facebook page with a new Twitter Feed. Both of these channels are designed to provide an informal and ongoing peek into the Chapel project to supplement our periodic posts to this blog and the chapel-announce mailing list. If you’re interested in getting a steady stream of Chapel news, follow us there, or just drop by from time to time, as neither site requires an account to view.

Between CHIUW and the Google Summer of Code — to say nothing of our traditional summer interns and visitors, and starting on the fall release — the Chapel team has a busy summer ahead. We hope your summer includes some Chapel coding as well!

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