Carnegie Mellon University
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Prefix sums and their applications

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journal contribution
posted on 2004-05-01, 00:00 authored by Guy E. Blelloch
Abstract: "Experienced algorithm designers rely heavily on a set of building blocks and on the tools needed to put the blocks together into an algorithm. The understanding of these basic blocks and tools is therefore critical to the understanding of algorithms. Many of the blocks and tools needed for parallel algorithms extend from sequential algorithms, such as dynamic-programming and divide-and-conquer, but others are new. This paper introduces one of the simplest and most useful building blocks for parallel algorithms: the all-prefix-sums operation. The paper defines the operation, shows how to implement it on a P-RAM and illustrates many applications of the operation.In addition to being a useful building block, the all-prefix-sums operation is a good example of a computation that seems inherently sequential, but for which there is an efficient parallel algorithm."