PD_ParallelFundamentals PD_ParallelDecomposition PD_ParallelAlgorithms PD_ParallelPerformance TCPP_Algorithms TCPP_Programming TCPP_CrossCutting CS0 CS1 CS2 DSA Systems visual movement

This activity was originally proposed by Mary Smith and Srishti Srivastava.

Paper (Srivastava2019) and slides available on-line.


See paper for details. In summary, the goal is to write the statement “More Processors Are Not Always The Best”, along with the indices of each letter.

All together, the activity distinguishes between parallelism and concurrency, and introduces the notion of Amdahl’s law and speedup.

CS2013 Knowledge Unit Coverage

PD/Parallel Fundamentals Core Tier 1

1. Distinguish using computational resources for a faster answer from managing efficient access to a shared resource. [Familiarity]

PD/Parallel Decomposition

Core Tier 1*:

1. Explain why synchronization is necessary in a specific parallel program. [Usage]

2. Identify opportunities to partition a serial program into independent parallel modules. [Familiarity]

Core Tier 2:

4. Parallelize an algorithm by applying task-based decomposition. [Usage]

5. Parallelize an algorithm by applying data-parallel decomposition. [Usage]

PD/Parallel Algorithms, Analysis and Programming

3. Define “speed-up” and explain the notion of an algorithm’s scalability in this regard. [Familiarity]

4. Identify independent tasks in a program that may be parallelized. [Usage]

5. Characterize features of a workload that allow or prevent it from being naturally parallelized. [Familiarity]

PD/Parallel Performance

2. Calculate the implications of Amdahl’s law for a particular parallel algorithm. [Usage]

TCPP Topics Coverage

Programming Topics

Algorithm Topics

Cross Cutting and Advanced Topics


The activity requires vision and potentially some movement. If writing is being done somewhere central, students who have mobility issues may find participating in the writing components difficult.

However, mobility-challenged students may be able to participate by being in the role of the student who times the tasks. A blind student can also fill this role by pressing a stop watch when an instructor says “go”, and stopping the timer when the instructor says “time”. The instructor can then read out-loud how much time had elapsed.


Paper (Srivastava2019) performs assessment on this activity and another activity (FindOldestPenny). For this particular activity, assessment was performed on 102 students (77 male, 25 female) over four institutions. The vast majority (83.3%) were aged 18-22. In addition, 29 students were Freshmen, 29 were sophomores, 26 were juniors, and 18 were seniors. Students were given the ASPECT survey that measures student engagement related to three constructs (value of activity, instructor contribution, and personal effort). Statistial significance was measured using a combination of one-way and two-way ANOVA tests. While no statistical difference was discovered for any of the three constructs over age or gender, Juniors had a statistically greater value of the activity over Freshmen, and Juniors had a statistically significant greater sense of instructor contribution than Freshmen or Sophomores. The authors suggest that that younger students may be more used to active learning strategies from K-12, while it may be more novel for older college students.