Parallelism in Event-Based Computations with Applications in Biology

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Event-based models find frequent usage in fields such as computational physics and biology as they may contain both continuous and discrete state variables and may incorporate both deterministic and stochastic state transitions. If the state transitions are stochastic, computer-generated random numbers are used to obtain the model solution. This type of event-based computations is also known as Monte-Carlo simulation.In this thesis, I study different approaches to execute event-based computations on parallel computers. This ultimately allows users to retrieve their simulation results in a fraction of the original computation time. As system sizes grow continuously or models have to be simulated at longer time scales, this is a necessary approach for current computational tasks.More specifically, I propose several ways to asynchronously simulate such models on parallel shared-memory computers, for example using parallel discrete-event simulation or task-based computing. The particular event-based models studied herein find applications in systems biology, computational epidemiology and computational neuroscience.In the presented studies, the proposed methods allow for high efficiency of the parallel simulation, typically scaling well with the number of used computer cores. As the scaling typically depends on individual model properties, the studies also investigate which quantities have the greatest impact on the simulation performance.Finally, the presented studies include other insights into event-based computations, such as methods how to estimate parameter sensitivity in stochastic models and how to simulate models that include both deterministic and stochastic state transitions.