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Computer science from A to Z

G is for Grid

© INRIA Sophie Auvin - G comme Grille

A bicycle manufacturer may spread the manufacturing of its bicycles' constituent parts among several plants.

Computer scientists do the same when faced with some complex calculations: they break them down into multiple tasks, which are then assigned to different computers, which perform them simultaneously.

Together, all of these machines form a computing grid. The computing power generated is enormous, but difficult to control. Computers that are sometimes very far apart, and which operate in different modes and at different rates, must be linked efficiently.

To make the most of this tool, researchers are designing new programming methods capable of showing clearly the diversity of hardware involved. And specific software constantly analyses the information flows in order to achieve an optimal distribution of the workload between computers.

These computing grids are therefore performing a constant balancing act... just like the best bicycle acrobats!

Did you know...?

© INRIA / Sophie Chauvin - Grille

Scientists use the power of computing grids for all sorts of complex problems: determining very large prime numbers, studying blood flow in our arteries, understanding the impacts of climate change or searching for signals sent by extraterrestrials...

Keywords: Computer science from A to Z Science awareness