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Language peer sets for Alpha:
Designed 1989
1980s languages
Fifth generation
Late Cold War


Functional Data Parallel Language Based on Polyhedra 

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Country: France
Designed 1989
Published: 1989

Alpha: A Functional Data Parallel Language Based on Polyhedra

Alpha was originally designed by Christophe Mauras (1989) to serve as a tool for manipulating and transforming systems of affine recurrence equations in the context of systolic array synthesis. In this talk, I present the basic language, discuss the motivations behind its design and describe how affine dependency functions, polyhedral domains and unimodular transformations interact in a coherent manner an empower two important properties of the language: normalization and change-of-basis.

Recent work on Alpha involves the addition of reductions to the language, the development of subsystems so that computations can be expressed in a modular and hierarchical manner, definition of a (proper) subset called AlpHard for defining regular VLSI (systolic) arrays, development of a transformation system based on the Mathematica system, tools for static analysis of Alpha programs, compilation of Alpha to sequential and parallel general purpose machines, extensions of the language to sparse domains (domains which are defined as the intersections of lattices and polyhedra), and some ongoing work on verification.

Related languages
Alpha AlpHard   Subset

  • Le Verge, H. (1991) Le Verge, H. ; C. Mauras, and P. Quinton. The ALPHA language and its use for the design of systolic arrays. Journal of VLSI Signal Processing, 3:173--182, 1991.
  • De Dinechin, F., Quinton, P., and Risset, T. (1995) De Dinechin, F., Quinton, P., and Risset, T. "Structuration of the ALPHA language" in Massively Parallel Programming Models (Berlin, Oct.), IEEE Computer Society Press, Los Alamitos, CA, 1995 pp18-24 Abstract Online at Citeseer
  • Skillicorn, David B. and Talia, Domenico (1998) Skillicorn, David B. and Talia, Domenico "Models and languages for parallel computation" pp123-169
          in [ACM] (1998) [ACM] ACM Computing Surveys (CSUR) 30(2) June 1998
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