PD_ParallelArchitecture TCPP_Architecture TCPP_Programming oo_course systems accessible

Originally described by Nasser Giacaman (Giacaman2012). General Question presented by Steve Bogaerts (Bogaerts2014).

No web-link to independent description available. See paper (Giacaman2012) for details.


The company analogy is used to introduce multicore systems:

To illustrate (under)utilization and resource contention/context switching:

To introduce static vs dynamic scheduling:

Alternatively, the activity can be actually acted out with job cards, desks, and students.

The company analogy can also be introduced with a question (from Bogaerts2014):

“If I ran a company by myself working 100 hours per week, how much time will I need if I hire an assistant?”

The question can be used to introduce the boss-worker pattern.

Note that this can stay an analogy, or be dramatized with students in a classroom setting.

CS2013 Knowledge Unit Coverage

Parallel Architecture (Core Tier 2)

2. Describe the SMP architecture and note its key features. [Familiarity]

TCPP Topics Coverage

Architecture Topics

Programming Topics

Algorithm Topics


As an analogy, this is generally accessible, though care must be taken to ensure that those who are blind have an understanding of the components of a company so that they can visualize what is going on inside their heads.


Giacaman presented the analogies as a way of introducing programming concepts in a object oriented programming course. Of the 218 students in the course, 105 completed survey. 93% of the students reported liking the way material was presented (47% strongly agree, 46% agree). Of the 105 respondents, 16 specifically mentioned the use of the analogies as being “most helpful” to their learning.

(Bogaerts2014) used the question component of the company analogy as part of a larger unit in parallelism in a CS1 course. He mentions that the total amount of time spent on parallelism was larger in the section that used analogies and hands-on activities compared to the one that presented the topics in a traditional lecture-style format (4 hours vs 90 minutes). However, the section that used analogies and hands-on activities performed better than those who received the information in a traditional lecture-format. Bogaerts argues that it is much better to spend more time on fewer parallel concepts in a hands-on way in an introductory course, rather than covering a variety of parallel concepts in a non-hands-on way. The final conclusion drawn is that analogies and hands-on activities enabled students to learn better and stimulated greater interest in the subject than a course that delivered the material in a typical lecture-style fashion. (Bogaerts2017) extends the assessment of the original paper, but found that while student interest increased, the desire to learn more decreased. The authors theorize that this is because most of the students in the course were non-majors who will not be pursuing computing in the future.