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When Better Code Beats Moore's Law

Steve Lohr over at the New York Times writes that performance gains from algorithm improvements often far outpace application speedups from faster processors attributable to Moore’s Law.

There are no such laws in software. But the White House advisory report cited research, including a study of progress over a 15-year span on a benchmark production-planning task. Over that time, the speed of completing the calculations improved by a factor of 43 million. Of the total, a factor of roughly 1,000 was attributable to faster processor speeds, according to the research by Martin Grotschel, a German scientist and mathematician. Yet a factor of 43,000 was due to improvements in the efficiency of software algorithms.

The Presidential Advisory PCAST report mentioned in this story ecommends investment in software as well as supercomputing hardware technologies in order to maintain U.S. competitiveness.

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