Gut Rumbles

May 11, 2005

hush yo' mouth!

I met this guy at the Jekyll blog-meet and I never heard him talk like THIS, even when he was drunk:

Vector calculation means the performance of a single operation across an array of subjects. When dealing with vectorized data, for example numerical arrays, digital vector processing units are extremely efficient, as the operation itself needs to be performed only once in order to process multiple data points, updating the data registers simultaneously in one processing cycle. Vector computing is used to great effect in the areas of physics and theoretical mathematics. Commercial applications exist, however; the AltiVec technology present in Motorola and IBM's PowerPC series (marketed as Velocity Engine in the Apple G4 and G5 versions) provides significant boosts to vector-based machine instructions in such esoteric areas as video encoding and encryption.

Can somebody tell ME, this poor, computer-dumbass, idiot Cracker.... just what the fuck does THAT mean? I kinda know what a "vector" is, because a lot of wimmen have those areas, where you need to home in with a slow hand and a lot of attention to detail. But once he went into that other technical shit, he lost me. He DID, however, manage to work the word "esoteric" into his babble and I know what THAT means.

Do you computer people REALLY talk that way? I'd rather speak Spanish.


Only in peer-reviewed journals and my thesis :)

Posted by: caltechgirl on May 11, 2005 09:51 PM

"Can somebody tell ME, this poor, computer-dumbass, idiot Cracker.... just what the fuck does THAT mean?"

Sure I could. No problem.
But I'm watching my bball team.

Posted by: Dan Pursel on May 11, 2005 10:17 PM

I'll make this complicated for you so it might look simple.

Most computers do only one thing at a time: add, subtract, multiply, divide, test, jump, load, store ...

In the good old days (60's) when we hand wired computers, some people got fancy and built machines that do parts of equations in one step: multiply and add in one instruction. This made it easier to calculate equations like ax^2 + bx + c using fewer operations.

Some computers got really interesting in that you could multiply two matricies using one instruction. IBM was particularly fancy about this.

Newer computers tend to have simpler instructions and are referred to as Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) machines. The old fancy ones were called Complex Instruction Set Computer (CISC) machines.

The IBM PowerPC is a RISC machine, but AltiVec adds specialized instructions to play with matricies just like in the good old days.

Yes computer people do talk like that. Just don't get them going on Cache, Memory Management Units, Translation Look Aside Buffers, and that crap. It'll make your ears bleed.

Posted by: The Thomas on May 11, 2005 10:38 PM

Management units!? That's got nothing to do with computers, that's a BLM thing! And the Wildlife Management Units are a Fish & Game thing.

Psssh! Computers. Who you think yer foolin'? ;-)

Posted by: McGehee on May 11, 2005 11:17 PM

It means the chip is good and fast.

Posted by: Denny on May 12, 2005 12:00 AM

The Thomas, that might still be too much. "Whats a matrix?" Acidman may ask.

Think of a bingo card. A bingo card is a matrix (or numerical array) of sorts. Think of a vector processing unit as something that could do a single mathematical operation to every number in the bingo card at one time. Like multiply every number by two, for example.

Or better yet, you could multiply every value in one bingo card by the corresponding value in another bingo card, and have the results sent to a third bingo card.

I know less about the video applications, but I do know that a tremendous amount of three-dimensional calculation takes place on the video processor rather than the motherboard processor now. I can see where vector-based calculations can help there.

Posted by: Desert Cat on May 12, 2005 01:49 AM

My eyes are glazing over, time for a beer.

Posted by: Henry Blowfly on May 12, 2005 03:09 AM

Guys, y'all are missing the whole point. It's a conceptual observation, and something you could apply to many things in life. Vector operations: It's not just for Crays and Mac weenies anymore. This, my friends, is the way of the Future..

Posted by: Rube on May 12, 2005 04:19 AM

Christ, you think that's bad??? Express even the vaguest curiosity about ANYTHING computer/physics/math related around my fiance, and he's off explaining... two hours later you'll be either insane or very well educated.

I do love that boy, though. :)

Posted by: Cythen on May 12, 2005 04:36 AM

It means someone is going to pay more money than its worth to do something faster than it needs to be done in the first place.

Posted by: James Old Guy on May 12, 2005 07:45 AM

Simple answer. In certain kinds of math one has to perform a lot of operations (add/subtract/multiply etc) on groups of numbers where each operation is not dependent on the other. in example I have the number 2 and 3 and need to add 5 to both, the answer of 2+5 is not dependent on the answer of 3+5. Vector computing uses an array of simple proccessors to perform each of those operations at the same time. In a normal computer to do 2+5 and 3+5, you have to wait for 2+5 to finish before you do 3+5. In vector computing, they both occur at the same time, which helps increase your speed for that sort of operation. It is not a pancea though, cost considerations and other issues tend to make vector computers rather specialized and not as usefull for less specialized usage.

As for your second question, yes we speak that way...and worse. :)

Posted by: Mythilt on May 12, 2005 10:02 AM

Acidman, every line of work has its own jargon. I remember hearing a flotation plant operator in a phosphate mine briefing the guy coming in for the next shift: "The 1250 is in some high I&A with lots of slimes, and the washer's not getting it out. The coarse rougher's a little brittle at the front end, and the amine circuit's floating rock. We've been running the roughers hot, so you can't push 'em no more. Good luck getting it straightened out and see you tomorrow." That's all I remember. They could go on and on talking about flotation like a couple of wine tasters.

I'll bet you had equally incomprehensible gibberish in the TiO2 plant. Could we have a sample?

Posted by: Ernie G on May 12, 2005 01:20 PM

Translation: Macs rock, buy one.

Posted by: Mr. Lion on May 12, 2005 10:25 PM

"Vector" is being used rather loosely here to mean "a list or array of numbers all being processed at once". Vector processing is doing an operation (multiply, add, whatever) on a vector with one, or perhaps a few, computer instructions. Normally you have to do the operation on each number, one at a time, plus all the overhead of keeping track of which number you're working on. So, vector processing is faster (although it usually takes a while to get things "started up", so it doesn't work out for short vectors).

Traditionally, vector processing has been used the most by physics labs: weather prediction, weapons simulation, particle accelerator calculations, that sort of thing. The article is trying to say that vector processing has real world uses too, such as video encoding and encryption.

No, we don't really talk that way. The sentence structure is way too good, and the first couple sentences actually try to explain stuff. That's for babies.

Posted by: nobody-at-all on May 12, 2005 10:55 PM
Post a comment

*Note: If you are commenting on an older entry, your
comment will not appear until it has been approved.
Do not resubmit it.